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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Young Woman Drawing


File:Villers Young Woman Drawing.jpg

Portrait of Young Woman Drawing [thought to be a self-portrait]
: Marie-Denise Villers (1774-1821), 1801, oil on canvas, 161.3 x 126.6 cm (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

Still the fact she's looking
at you at all from
there in that dark room

when out the window
the lovers on the bridge
have other things to do

as though you were not
merely an invisible screen
concealing the future

but an almost actual
element in its as yet
undetermined development

for those present
must mean something
after all


Nin Andrews said...

I love that, esp, the last line. I do find that drawing or writing --make me both feel as if I have really been here for at least a moment,
and the opposite. I have really been so absorbed
that I have not been here.

Days when I don't write or draw or sit in some kind of contemplative way, I feel like life is being sucked away too quickly. I want to slow it down.

But then there's today --when I am preparing to go to AWP tomorrow AM (snow predicted), a conference that I dread and wonder why I sign up for whenever I do, I only wish time would fast-forward. I think this will be my last stint at such an event. I feel nauseous in anticipation.

TC said...


Perhaps the best way to reckon with the nausea and the dread of the AWP conference would be to regard the visit as an undercover assignment and make many surreptitious sketches for AWP Comics.



an almost actual
element in its as yet
undetermined development


light coming into cloud above blackness
of ridge, crow calling from pine branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

space, determined by matter
and in this case only

which is equal to different
relation, which, thus

grey white cloud against top of ridge,
pelican gliding to the left toward it


yes, Nin, you can be an undercover agent scoping out AWP for comics. keep your collar up and head down.

Wooden Boy said...

This is fascinating when seen in relation to the Mydans post just gone.

TC said...

This has to be one of the more arresting paintings ever made. The gaze of the woman may be seen as -- what? Open, vague, amused... or simply absent, even perhaps deeply "elsewhere"?

The speculation that this is a mirror self-portrait is of course something outside the work itself. The work itself seems to look toward the viewer at least as much as it does invite the viewer to look toward it. This creates an eerie, unsettling sensation.

As you suggest, WB, one has then an experience of doubleness comparable in some ways with the situation in Blight -- where the Mydans images were rejected for circulation because the photographer's shadow in the picture had provoked in someone who saw the negatives that queasy, almost ghostly "double"-like here-but-not-here feeling.

Wooden Boy said...

The light touching the hair and the face caught in the barest shade adds to that elusive look.

TC said...

The light touching the hair seems to be loosening it, and the shade across the countenance works as the shadow of a doubt.

Anonymous said...

She has the facial expression that I associate with listening more than looking, which lends itself to a hand-wavily poetic description of painting -- but I note her strokes have paused, if they've begun at all. Is she waiting for me, I wonder? Should I stop fidgeting? Is my attempt at levity falling on the deaf ears of one who hears such things better than I?

Oh, this is a lovely painting & poem, Tom. (& yes, Nin, I agree that an undercover mission would be perfect.)