David Bruce: The Coolest People in Art — Mishaps


• Many of Alexander Rodchenko’s 3D sculptures are replicas because he and his wife were forced to burn the originals during a very cold winter in 1943 in Moscow. According to Alexander Lavrentiev, his grandson, “They had a small iron furnace in their flat. The temperature outside was -30C. By burning wood, they could raise the temperature inside to just under freezing.” Mr. Rodchenko spent most of his life in Russia, and he could speak only Russian. Of course, these facts limited his contact with European artists. In 1925, he visited Paris, where he met Pablo Picasso. Unfortunately, they did not speak each other’s language, and so all they could do was to bow their heads to each other.

• Edward Lear, author/illustrator of A Book of Nonsense, traveled widely in the 19thcentury in order to paint landscapes of lands not then frequently visited by Europeans. In Albania, he was sketching a castle when a shepherd visited him. Seeing the sketch, the shepherd immediately began shouting, “SHAITAN!” — a word that means “DEVIL!” The shepherd had never seen anyone create such a work of art before, and he thought that it had to be the work of the devil. The news of the presence of the “devil” spread, and many villagers shut their doors when Mr. Lear approached, and other villagers threw stones at him. Near Jerusalem, Mr. Lear drew some Arabs, not realizing that Islam forbids such images. When the Arabs saw what he had done, they pulled his beard and robbed him of his money, his handkerchiefs, and his hard-boiled eggs.

• When President George W. Bush moved into the White House, he hung his favorite painting in the Oval Office. The painting depicts two horsemen following a cowboy charging up a steep trail. President Bush has said that the painting depicts a Methodist circuit rider charging ahead to spread the word of God. Unfortunately, that is incorrect, but at least the truth is funnier than the untruth. W.H.D. Koerner painted the scene for the Saturday Evening Post in 1916 to illustrate a story titled “The Slipper Tongue” about a smooth-talking horse thief. The painting really depicts the horse thief fleeing from a mob of people who want to lynch him.

• Works of art can become lost, and not just in the usual way. For example, a bust of William Shakespeare is thought to have been on exhibit in the outdoors on Lookout Mountain at the Lookout Mountain National Military Park near Chattanooga, TN. Officials searched for the bust, but they were unable to find it. Apparently, it is still there — hidden under vegetation such as poison ivy. Susan Nichols of Save Outdoor Sculpture! says, “I call outdoor sculpture ‘orphans of the cultural community.’ Outdoor sculpture often suffers from benign neglect, as well as from the environment. We need to become more active and vigilant in caring for them.”

• When famed portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh was a young man, he arranged to take the portrait of the great photography pioneer Edward Steichen, but he was so in awe of the great man that the photography session was a failure, and he had to ask Mr. Steichen to reschedule another session. Mr. Streichen was gracious and did so, and at the second session he told Mr. Karsh that he had also been in awe as a young photographer. One hot day he had carried heavy photography equipment to the gateway of Monet’s château. Unfortunately, as he said, “I was too in awe of the great artist to ring the bell.”

• Early in his adult life, independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch had a job in Paris delivering paintings from a gallery to other galleries or to the homes of people who had purchased the paintings. Once, he and a co-worker had to deliver approximately 100 pieces of an artwork that was a huge painting with holes torn in it so that the artist could paint on different surfaces. Unfortunately, Mr. Jarmusch and his co-worker accidentally ran over the painting, leaving tire marks on it. Fortunately, the private collector who had bought the painting did not notice anything wrong with it.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved



Buy the Paperback


Buy in Other Formats, Including PDF


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: