Over the years I have written four letters to The New York Times.Two of them were published which shows that my view points were taken into consideration.

Friday, March 31, 2006

WHO WAS THE WICKED ONE? Herodias or Salome?

If we talk about wicked women portrayed in art, painting , opera or movies, the Bible offers a bonanza of them. Who asked for the head of John the Baptist? Herodias or Salome? In the Hollywood version, Salome (played by Rita Hayworth who played two wicked women before: Gilda and Carmen ) didn’t ask for the head of John . It was her mother Herodias portrayed by Judith Anderson ( who played the wicked Mrs Danvers in Hitchcock’s “Rebecca”). We should not forget about another gore-obsessed lady, Judith , who was immortalized in canvas by the female artist Arthemisia Gentileschi who did many versions of this subject. What would Freud say? We also should not forget about the temptress Delilah ( played in the movies by Hedy Lamarr) who just decided that Samson would look better with a crew cut. Delilah was immortalized also by several artists. Leaving the Bible and moving to the Roman Empire, Livia, wife of Emperor Augustus is a tough act to follow, except for Messalina painted by Gustave Moreau, Aubrey Beardsley and Henrique Bernadelli. During the Renaissance Lucrecia Borgia was high on the wicked hit parade and inspired many painters. I don’t think that in modern times Evita Peron or the Duchess of Windsor was immortalized by a great artist. Sorry ladies, you don’t make the list.
Painting: Salome by Caravaggio

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Many thanks for the link to your interesting blog. Iwill keep reading it. What you say about art in America is very true for my country, Australia, also. As an Australian artist born in very poor circumstances, even though I do have a good universtiy degree, I find it very hard, or impossible to find a place in art world here, where everything is based on snob value, and class....and certainly not talent. Even though while I lived in London, England, I both exhibited and taught art in one of the best adult colleges, and even mixed with the aristocracy. I knew that upon my return to Australia, that owing to the class system here, there would be nothing for me in my own country. This turned out to be true. How do working class (and below) artists fare in America? Is thier lot any better? Or it is the same misguided class system here in Australia that rules the art scene there? The one that believes that only the wealthy and powerful can appreciate art? A view that is based on false ideas of what they think happens in the class system in England. The class systems to which all snobs ultimately aspire. I could not help notice what you say about your cleaning lady. This seems to be a self fulfilling expection of those who are denyed a good education ,or exposure to good art because of thier class. I notice that this lack of awareness in Australia andAmerica extends to Science as well....all coming from the same dismantling of education. But keep up and the good work, and keep thinking Helen
Helen Duley

Monday, March 27, 2006


Are we going back to the time of covering the genitals of a statue with a fig leaf, afraid of offend the prudes and puritans? Are we living in a state of fear afraid of creating an art which can be seen as offensive? In the last few years we have seen the climbing of the self censorship which sometimes comes in the shape of boycotts and which can lead to open censorship. Some time ago the Brooklyn Museum was threatened by the then administration of the city for exhibiting “Sensation” an avan-garde British show.” Boycott the Brooklyn Museum!” cried the puritans and conservatives. Mapplethorpe was threatened by the National Endowment for the Arts for depicting nude photos of men and women sometimes engaged into sex. More recently a theater in New York City withdrew a play named “My Name is Rachel Corrie” afraid of people who were already making threats to boycott it. This attitude curbs the creativity of an artist and leads to stagnation. If one don’t like provocative art, do not go to see it, but a call for a boycott is taking away the rights of others who appreciate freedom of expression. Remember how many artists suffered the consequences of self censorship in countries like Spain, Portugal and Russia. How many talents could not unleash their creativity, afraid of reprisals and even jail. Luckily Max Ernst ( 1891/1976) the dadaist and surrealist artist , escaped the latest attacks on art when he created “The Blessed Virgin Chastises the Infant Jesus... illustrated at the left.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

THE VICE AMERICA NEEDS MOST ( and I don't mean Cheney)

Snobbism is commonly considered a vice, but I believe that America could sure use a healthy dose these days. The Yahoos ...cultural, political and social..have been ruling the roost for the last few years, with disastrous results. Americans have always been phobic about admitting class distinctions exist in our country, not understanding that the difference between the U.S. and the öld world” is that one can more easily change class here, move up or down according to one’s education, deportment and yes, of course, income. It used to be that lower and lower middle class people observed and tried to emulate upper-middle and upper class people. No longer is this true.
Take the style of dressing one observes, for example. Well-bought up people know and enjoy that there are many, many gradations between the two poles of casual and formal. This distinction is lost on the masses today. For example, Richard Nixon walking on the beach in a dark suit, white shirt and tie is a bit ludicrous...but so are the hordes of people who board airplanes in shorts, the ubiquitous T-shirts and flip-flops. This is expected from lower-class people, but not acceptable from educated persons, or from college students (at least those attending real colleges, where the college president is paid more than the football coach).
Other areas of triumph for the lower classes are spoken English, where supposedly educated folk say “like” and “you know” every five seconds....and tattoos, now seen almost as frequently on women as on men.
One possible solution: a television show hosted by a qualified snob. Each week our urbane and madly superior host or hostess will highlight some new outrage by overpaid, oversexed underclass idiot pop stars, athletes or attention-loving fools. The fear of snobs may account for many Americans dislike of the French, who have not completely abandoned respect for proper behavior.
Vive les snobs! Long live the snobs!
Herbert Zohn

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Animals have rights too and since they don’t have a voice...we have to speak out for them. The great actress Brigitte Bardot said once: “When I was young I gave my youth and beauty to men. Now I give to the animals what is left of me”. She is very active in animal causes as are Doris Day, Betty White and Calvin Trillin .
Pets give us unconditional love in exchange for what: three walks a day and a meal usually made of horrible and tasteless food. No human food come slightly close to what is sold for dogs...except rice cakes. I can tell. I ate a dog biscuit! They taste like ground paper with an off flavor. When I can, I bake my own dog biscuit which recipe I want to share:
1 cup of flower
1 egg
2 tablespoons of minced parsley ( prevents bad breath)
3 tablespoons of milk
Mix everything to make a very stiff dough, pat it down to about 1/2 inch, cut it in squares about 1 1/2 x 2 l/12 inches and bake for 12 minutes in a 450 oven.
Photo: Coco

Picasso and my cleaning lady

I love my cleaning lady.She is not a stupid woman, but her education did not go beyond the fourth grade. One day she brought me beautiful book called "Picass and his Women". She told me she found it in the garbage and thought that since I was an artist, I would like to have it. She did not have a clue about who Picasso was. She stayed by my side while I went through the book, looking at the portraits of Dora Maar, Marie Thèrése, Maia and others. She would ask..."that is a portrait of a woman? One eye and the nose in the place of the mouth? "I tried to explain that Picasso was one of the greatest artists of the last century and that his work worth millions of dollars. I told her that I could give her a poster of Picasso as thanks for that book. She said: "no thanks, I would not hang this in my house at all. A woman with just one eye and a nose in place of the mouth...no thanks."
Other remarks followed by the cleaning lady when she was going to my art books.Venus de Milo for her became a handicapped lady and the Winged Victory a headless woman.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Bitch who hit the Beach

The great photographer Cartier Bresson once said that a photographer never should leave the house without a camera. He was absolutely right. I am not a professional photographer, but I take a lot of photos as reference for my work. I lost a lot of opportunities to photograph interesting things because I didn't have my camera with me. Once I saw a beautiful pheasant in Central Park, in New York City. Also, a man carrying a huge cross on his back a la Jesus Christ in Fort Lauderdale and counteless interesting scenes which could make great photos. Then I started to carry my camera all the times. When I arrived in Fort Lauderdale after Hurricane Wilma the first thing I saw was a Shell gas station which lost the S and become "hell". That was a true sommation of Fort Lauderdale after it was hit by the hurricane.