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Last weekend while in Wisconsin I saw a painting of a historical nature that resembles one I saw in Ottawa. I was pleased as punch I was correct it was a painting by Benjamin West. The one in WI shows Charles II arriving at Dover; the other one (in Ottawa) is The death of General Wolfe.  Both paintings are examples of ‘photo shopping”: some if not most of the people in them were not present at the times of the events. Mostly likely Mr. West was paid by patrons to do so.

west death of general wolfe

I still don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I see history repeating itself. It supports the notion people don’t change which is both alarming and a comfort. People nowadays are all up in arms about fake photos and such but artwork has been putting up ‘fake news’ from the get-go. I don’t know if paintings like Mr. West’s were taken as literally truth. Did people believe the contents of paintings are how things actually happened? I remember as a boy going to art museums in which I saw Biblical characters dressed in 15th-18th century attire (usually Flemish) and smelling a rat. I guess even then I was looking for proper representation in the media!

Although I know Mr. West’s painting contents are BS I suppose historical representation is not the point. As I sit at my office desk I look across the desk to a print of Wolfe. It hangs there as I like it and it reminds me of the good times I had in Ottawa to finally see the real McCoy.

Art isn’t the news but something else. As I type this out I realize in my youth one of the reasons I liked ‘proper paintings’ was they are told a specific story. I don’t have to think much. In contrast I found modern art infuriating as “I don’t know what it is supposed to be about, will someone tell me what it means?”.  Nowadays I am leaning away from The Old Masters whom I suspect were as dastardly as present day pharmaceutical representatives towards the abstract. Abstract/modern art allows me my own thoughts and emotions. Who would have thunk it?

Ginseng root


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June 2019

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018