I’ve had the Caduceus on my mind lately. Maybe I’ll explain why soon, but in the mean time I thought I’d post pictures of a couple of sculpture showing Mercury (Hermes) inventing the Caduceus. Both are exceptional. I especially like the sculpture by Antonin Idrac (images above), but I also love Henri Chapu‘s interpretation (below) too!
It’s pretty well established that I love mythology. I also love history and follow archaeology too.
Earlier last week I came across some news out of Greece about a tomb that was discovered dating back to 300-325 BC. The archaeologists haven’t actually gotten inside of the tomb yet, but they have cleared up to the entrance, where two giant sphinx sat guarding whomever rested inside. I’m excited to learn more as the news about this dig unfolds.
This news triggered my imagination though, because I am fascinated by ancient Greek culture, their artwork and sculpture, and I the Sphinx. I guess I should say that even though I would absolutely love to visit The Great Sphinx in Egypt someday soon, it is the mythology behind the Grecian Sphinx that inspires me the most. The stories are great, where she brings destruction and death to all of those who cannot solve her riddle.
I’ve drawn her a few times over the years, and have made a quick painting of her once or twice (which I have uploaded to the bottom of this post). Like I say though, my mind and imagination has been triggered though, so I have spent a bit of time looking through sphinx related images. And I have included some of those in this post as well.
What goes on four legs at dawn, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?
I’ve been thinking a lot about plant people and will probably sit down to draw them soon. One of my favorite plant buddies would have to be the Green Man, god of the forest. I’ve already painted him a few times over the years, but yeah, he is starting to play in my imagination once again. This week, I’ve decided to post a few pictures of him throughout history.
I’ve read that the first incarnation of the Green Man (that we know of) may have been the Egyptian god Osiris. His body representing the land of Egypt as it goes through the winter months when he is murdered, dismembered, planted in the ground, only to rise again for harvest (with his skin a nice shade of green). The Green Man has certainly evolved since then, and has been represented throughout Europe, and even India and Asia to represent the guardian of Nature. Even the Catholic church couldn’t get rid of the Green Man, and his image can be found inside and incorporated into their medieval cathedral’s architecture, columns and stained glass.
I remember being very happy as a kid if he’d show up in one of the books I’d be reading. I may have initially encountered the Green Man the first time I read Tolkien, where the he was embodied by the Ent, Treebeard. I’ve come across him many times since, in comics (Yay Swamp Thing!), literature, artwork, sculpture, and out in the wild wood. He shows up all over the place, and if you keep your eyes open you will see him everywhere!
Some books and things:
I think the sculpture of Apollo and Daphne by Bernini may have been the very first piece of artwork that I ever really noticed. It was the first piece to really register, if that makes sense. And I didn’t even see the sculpture in person, but watched a film that featured the sculpture in it. I’m not sure, but I imagine I must have been in maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. I don’t know why I was even watching the film, but I did like reading the Greek myths especially back then.
The film portrayed the story of Daphne running away from Apollo, praying to the gods that she can somehow escape. Then it showed her skin becoming bark, branches growing from her fingers and hair, until finally she turned into a tree. Then the show ended with this sculpture. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that the piece I saw in that film was this sculpture by Bernini. I do know that seeing the transformation played out on screen really disturbed me. Or maybe that’s the wrong word… it fascinated me.
I think about it from time to time. I also have drawn a number of dryads and other plant people over the years. Maybe this is why. Even now I see dryads and human forms playing in the trees.
I’m starting to think I might want to draw a few plant people again.
Another cool ancient burial site is Mount Nemrut. This is thought to be where King Antiochus I was buried. He was a Greek King and the statues at the site show the Greek and Persian gods of his ancestors.
I love looking at photos of this site. I want to have them here on ArtDuh so I can look at them whenever I like. I find old and weathered sculptures where you can see the passage of time to be so beautiful. The sculptures from this particular site are amazing. When I look at them that line from T S Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men comes to mind…
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.
I’m not the biggest fan of Pop Art in general, but there are a few Pop artists that I do like a whole lot. My very favorite is easily Claes Oldenburg. Seeing his work always makes my day and puts me in a good mood. There is something nice about walking up to a monumental safety pin or giant hose emptying out into a pond. They make me happy!
I really like the store-fronts Oldenburg put together in the ’60s. He would make sculpted plaster cakes, bags of potato chips, or plaster lingerie and have them for sale in a space he’d rented. I think that is such a cool idea.
My favorite pieces have always been his soft sculptures. His solid object made out of fabric and vinyl that have been stuffed and sewn together. There is something very special about those… Checkity-check them out!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the ancient Greek sculpture the Horse and Jockey of Artemision. This rare sculpture is one of the few original Greek bronze to survive being melted down, and that is probably only because it went down in a shipwreck. Like a catchy tune, the sculpture has been running through my mind’s eye and I cannot shake it… so here it is! Take a look :)