MARY RYAN GALLERY | APRIL 9 – MAY 9, 2015
Who would mock the pretensions of Lavater’s new science of physiognomy
But Georg Lichtenberg in his witty essay “Fragment On Tails.”
It was a series of drawings of dogs’ tails made as an exercise for the readers,
“If Goethe had a tail, which one of these would it be?”
It’d be hard to march down Baron Haussmann’s extravagant boulevards
Without being photographed frontally by a famed photographer.
While her left leg is gently suspended in “Variegated #2”
The right one stands firm in classic, humanistic contrapposto.
“White #27” is for stout men like Théophile Gautier or Honoré de Balzac
Who prefer quarter-profile with one of their hands at rest above the chest,
Or tucked under a pocket.
“Variegated #10” finally swings us back to
A whole host of dignified personages.
Indeed they were dressed for a few significant occasions.
Would you say the venerable Felix Nadar did something similar?
“White #22” recalls his Sarah Bernhardt in a Pierrot costume;
“Black #9” eludes to the great dandy Delacroix;
“Lavender #1” dials the exceptional Madame Jeanne Weil,
Long before the birth of Proust!
Fashion. Beauty. What’s your desire?
Bravi! Bravissimi! It’s important to hear the appraisals from
The lofty uncensored observers.
I’m here. You’re there. We’re here. They’re there.
It’s unwise therefore to disrupt the space in between.
In “Variegated #10,” someone has declared the calligraphy of
Dissimilar lines conspiratorial against all gray tones.
They just know it’s a good thing to submit to the non-negotiable
Dominance of “the negative space.”
It’s one way to please her majesty, as some of us remember!
Sing it out loud with pride and joy.
Sing it out loud to impress the crowd.
Who parades down the boulevard of crime in Les Enfants du Paradis
Before disappearing into the old and new masses?
Some of them are looking at us, have you noticed?
Salut! Je vais vous revoir bientôt.
PHONG BUI is the Publisher and Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Rail.