The grandstands for the Tournament of Roses Parade are set up on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena, CA right in front of a building with the name Norton Simon on the wall. That unremarkable building is full of remarkable art.
VanGogh, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, old, new (ish), Europe, Asia, and American.
But mostly they have Degas.
I’ve seen the Little Dancer Aged 14 many times in several places, but I hadn’t previously seen her with all of her class, instructors, the corps de ballet and a bunch of ladies in bathtubs. The Norton Simon Museum has three rooms of Degas and ballet.
I didn’t know they had these there.
I often joke that I spend the majority of my life driving and the majority of that driving is to ballet classes. I don’t dance, but I have a little dancer not yet aged 14, and even when I left her home, I cannot escape.
So to balance out the lady dancey dance I ventured out on a personal quest to find artistic depictions of true manliness.
The European artists had quite the offering in every period and across several genre but when it comes to athletic fopishness and swagger, the Asian artists were the clear winners.
The French did not take the loss well.
But in my search for artistic manliness, meaning a little bit of stylish swagger expertly and intentionally executed in oil marble or ink, I found a little extra bit of manliness that wasn’t so pretty.
Like how the painting below done in the 1500s features two older men plotting the “seduction” (word on the placard) of a younger woman and after failing, accuse her of adultery for which she is condemned to death, only to be saved at the last moment.
Then, in another room, where I see Adam and Eve portrayed as the original man and women together, I turn around and see the natural next step where the man is sexually assaulting a woman.
There were additional depictions of assault that I have chosen not to post.
I will add that the Asian artists scupltures while much more explicit also appeared much more consenting.
But most of this art was old- from the past, and art museums aren’t just about what is on the walls.