Monday, February 13, 2012

Museum T-Shirts and Onesies

British Museum T-Shirt with tondo of Epiktetos's early red-figure cup: Youth and Dancing Girl
I had wanted to post a note on the cup-painter Epiktetos (his own signature: it may mean that he was a slave or the son of one or for some other reason had the nickname), who was the artist, in fact, of whom Sir John Beazley wrote that you can draw differently but not better.
But unless I went back to reproductions of pre-photographic drawings, I couldn't find good images out of copyright.
I resorted to taking a snapshot of the British Museum's T-shirt that a friend had brought to me (above).  Subtlety may be lost, but Epiktetos's elegant style actually is a great designer's choice for a T-shirt.  It even makes plain why Beazley admired it so much.  Note, too, that Beazley's appreciations were, in part, grounded in his own practice of making drawings of the artists he was studying, and his are among the very best.  I know of no better way to learn a style of drawing.
But last week I saw this year's first prize winning news photo, by Samuel Aranda, in a favorite blog, Thesprotia News.  It is a truly great photograph: unforgettable and beautiful.  The blog also provides a link to the competition page.  Click on edô at the end of their article.  Some of the other winners are great, too, but this one has the finality of the greatest images.
It reminded me of a very great painting, the Avignon Pietà, which I found very well represented in a Google Images page.  In comparison, even other famous Pietàs seem rather stylistic virtuoso images.
But then I saw something (the 34th image on my screen in the array that the link provides) that makes the British Museum T-shirt itself seem reverent, the Avignon Pietà reproduced on one of those infant garments (an undershirt with a crotch) that young mothers call onesies.
Considering some of the appropriations of this and other Pietà, I do not want to object to trafficking this one on baby clothes, but I don't know why!