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June 02, 2005

The Flower Carrier

Diego Rivera's "The Flower Carrier" at SFMOMA:

The guide said, "You have to be able to think like a communist--or at least an economist--to understand this painting."

It's true. You have to note:

  1. That in reality it's not the big basket of flowers that is bone-crushingly heavy--but the burden of being an unskilled worker under modern capitalism is very heavy.
  2. That flowers are and are a symbol of pleasant luxury--but the flower carrier never sees them: for him they are not pleasant use values, but only exchange values.

It is, I think, my favorite painting at SFMOMA.

But I also found William Kentridge's "Tide Table" to be very, very good as well:

artblog: Upstairs... we wound our way... into the permanent collection where we found the Kentridge piece, 'Tide Table' (2003).... The piece, like other Kentridge works, intertwines the character Soho Eckstein, a white industrialist who is the stand-in for the artist, with the lives of black South Africans. Here, Soho vacations at the beach and quickly the beach scene dissolves into one of hospital-dormitories with people dying of AIDS. The tide comes in, the tide goes out like the lives ebbing and flowing...

Posted by DeLong at June 2, 2005 10:53 AM