two eds

March 26, 2010

Ed Ruscha, ‘History Kids’.

Sir Edwin Landseer, ‘Man proposes, God disposes’ 1864.

Landseer’s oil painting really is one of the most curious things I’ve come across this week so far.

What is so striking about this painting is not only the title – a bold remark on the futility of ‘man’s vain efforts‘ in planning for a future who’s outcome is ultimately determined by God, but also the juxtaposition of delicate colouring and composition in a raw and brutal scene; powerful polar bears -one tearing at the ship’s flag, the other crushing a small human bone in it’s jaw and both surrounded by blood and broken equipment in a freezing landscape. The wreck depicted is that from the ill-fated expedition of Sir John Franklin.

I am reminded of a proverb often quoted to me by my darling:

When men speak of the future, the Gods laugh.


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