Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Statue-tory Matters

Horsemanship through the history of all nations has been considered one of the highest accomplishments. You can't pass a park without seeing a statue of some old codger on a horse. ~ Will Rogers

People have weird attitudes toward statues. For instance, when I was going to school in Cleveland, I used to regularly pass by a statue of Some Great Man which portrayed him with arm upraised. He may have had something in that hand once upon a time, but, when I was there, it was empty. Well, it was empty most of the time. Sometimes he held a beer can aloft, until the city maintenance people spotted it and removed it.

At the other extreme, people take out their frustrations on statues. The Cleveland Museum of Art has a casting of Rodin's Thinker, originally cast by the sculptor, at the main entrance. In 1970, some loon or loons decided that, as a sign of protest, to place a bomb at the base of the statue. No one was injured by the late-night blast, but the statue was irreparably damaged. After some agonizing about what to do, the Museum put the statue back, blasted base and all, as a symbol of the endurance of art and the stupidity of man.

Then there's the Rodin figure, Jean d'Aire, Nu, a copy of which resides at the Birmingham Museum of Art. He stands in an enclosed exterior place and is an impressive work (as you can see from this image from a copy in Dallas), especially given that it was created as a study to be used to develop figures for a more famous work, called The Burghers of Calais. For some reason, there were some complaints about his anatomical correctness. It seems that some women were caressing his privates (which based on the above image, were not particularly impressive). Other women were distressed by this and demanded that Jean be, well, neutered. So he was, sort of. He still has testicles but is missing his other equipment.

Interestingly, the same women who so objected to the nude male figure had no problem with a rather corpulent reclining nude female figure in the same area. Draw your own conclusions.

In San Diego recently, a statue of a surfer was unveiled, which, for reasons which are not entirely clear based on the one picture I've seen, was considered an eyesore. Some of the citizenry decided to "improve" Surfer Dude by dressing him in a pink skirt and pink-and-white bikini top. Logically enough, realizing how embarrassing this would be to the statue, they decided to hide his true identity by adding a one of those "masked marvel" wrestling masks. You can see the result here.

Poor defenseless statue.

However, the prize for best statue dressing has to go to the phantom statue draper in Marion, Alabama. Seems that a local convenience store owner decided that a statue of Venus Di Milo would spruce up his gas pumps. So he went to his local statuary seller and found amongst the gnomes, angels, and gargoyles a copy of the classic Venus, complete with no arms and not much in the way of clothing. He placed her out front between a couple of the aforementioned gas pumps. That's when the fun started.

After the statue had been up a while, someone started coming by at night and dressing the statue up. It started modestly enough with a feather boa, but it escalated into a fully clothed Venus. About the only thing Venus didn't wear was blue jeans (there was a song Venus in Blue Jeans; very clever those reporters).Then it got weird.

Venus got pregnant.

One day, she was found to be in maternity dress, with a pillow to simulate her condition. As the days passed, the pillow grew. Recently, Venus was delivered of a bouncing baby Cabbage Patch Kid (or something similar to those creepy things), perched in a child carrier hanging on Venus' back.

Someone is spending a lot of money here. No one knows who that someone is; the owner claims it isn't he, although he certainly gets some drop-in business thanks to Venus' ever-changing wardrobe. One witness claimed to have seen a woman come by in the night to do the deed but couldn't provide any identification.

Now Marion is a small town, so it seems hard to believe that the phantom dresser could remain anonymous. She does seem to be clever about avoiding detection, though.

I'm not sure if statue dressing is about to become a new fad. Lord knows, now that the Internet has got hold of the idea, it may become the Next Big Thing. Apparently wanting to be on top the wave, the guy who sold the Venus did want everyone to know that he had another classical statue, a small copy of Michaelangelo's David, available for just $125.

You know, just in case you want to have a statue-dressing flash mob.

No comments:

Post a Comment