A history of the Heart – Pt II

Francesco Clemente, A History of the Heart in Three Rainbows

Francesco Clemente, A History of the Heart in Three Rainbows (I), 2009

In a gallery far far away. . .

HERS: Need I explain a heart surrounded in darkness? Dark knot of isolation. A heart in safe surround, in pearl white hermitage?

HIS: This looks like pretty much like guts to me. A heart stuck in a white gumball in outer space. Simple.

HERS: Are you kidding? This heart is asking BIG questions– motheaten through heart — has decisions.

HIS: Those are holes? Naw, those are bits of shaving cream left over from a dull razor. Or maybe blind spots.

HERS: Will the blackness be a self-grown cancer that tightens in the belly of this relationship? Refusing to nourish? Feeding only.

HIS: Oh God I’m hungry — how long before our table’s ready (checks his phone for a text message from the restaurant, looks up) You are missing the heart-shaped skittles everywhere.

HERS: Or is the dark slowly being broken, digested by compassion, melting in its multi-hued warmth? Multitudes of  heart shaped cells of care. Kind words, kind actions, a little kiss, a full on hug, a compliment, a cup of coffee, a belly laugh.

HIS: Ugh sounds like too much work. This is inside a belly isn’t it? Get in my BELLY! Ha!

HERS: (Rolls eyes) The reasons for this heart’s self enforced privacy are probably pretty good. Protection. Survival even.

HIS: Survive? Who survives love?

A history of the Heart – Pt 1

 in Three Rainbows (I) 2009

Francesco Clemente, A History of the Heart in Three Rainbows (II), 2009

Recently the question “what is love” google-ranked into the top ten question searches. Who’s asking? Who isn’t?

What is love? That depends on what time it is.

Is it the time when the great noise parted — the only sound — the breathing of you and another? Whose dilate eyes held in them all your healing and possible death. Who captured your soul with their fingers?

Is it the time — fifteen years in, goldfish crackers crunched to floor, high on exhaustion, child echo in your ears, when you look to your partner and feel a sense of long-lived loyalty.

Is it the time after you’ve thrown a rose down an earthen box, heard it soft thump. Tasted your tears and groped around to find some feeling to name? A duty — and still is love.

The truth is — love grows and dies on the same tree — our lives. We have a myriad hearts we’ve encaged to many people and things. And our several loves, delicate hued, have a variable shelf life. Your limited number of hearts, your time-limited love. To lavish on others, to lavish on ourselves.

We want to be free, but we want to be loved. One condition opposes the other. And the struggle between the restrictions of love and the care of self are paid in seconds ticking by. We make choices. So the cage door closes and the cage door opens. The joy close. The sorrow open.

These intricate economies of time and passion we call love.

I love you this much. . .

So what can you get your sweetie this Vday to show him how much you care? How about a $23.6 million dollar, 9 foot high stainless steel heart pendant? Complete with bow.  Sorry no gift wrap for this baby.  This is Jeff Koons’ Hanging Heart in Magenta (there are five others in different colorways).  A little above your budget perhaps?  Well that’s because this piece garnered the highest price paid for art by a living artist in 2007. The next year his magenta balloon flower sold for a cool $25.7M.

 “I realized you don’t have to know anything and I think my work always lets the viewer know that. I just try to do work that makes people feel good about themselves, their history, and their potential.”  Jeff Koons

Some think he’s a high price manufacturer of artsy kitsch. Each time his art changed hands, the prices skyrocketed.  A Koons “art bubble”.  Art as commodity.  (Koons is a former stockbroker) Now the recession has hit, his violet heart sold for only $11 million. Look honey, its 50% off!

As a former machine shop owner who knows a little about stainless steel, I can tell you this work is fascinating for its sheer perfection. The balloon-like heart is a 3D mirror that reflects you, the viewer. However, as in a fun house mirror, your image distorts into various shapes as you move around it, following its curvatures. Light refracting. Images bending.  Now, I don’t know whether Koons will last as a cultural icon like Warhol, but I do think this is very clever.  What reaches our hearts without a little distortion? The play of light on the heart’s surface, the play of love – – an ever changing game of desire and perception. Reality curves as it bounces through our various colored consciousness.

Still, I’ll leave the chromium plated psychoanalysis to the people who can afford it and opt for the plebeian (but tasty) standby Godiva chocolate this V-day.  Cheers!