Monday, October 31, 2005

Spanish Influenza and Egon Schiele

The Spanish Influenza killed not only hockey players but the Viennese painter Egon Schiele. Schiele has a new show at Neue Galerie. I usually avoid Klimt and Schiele because of their overpowering and unsalutary eroticism. This show made me think again. Schiele was born in 1890. As an adolescent, he attended art school in Vienna, and was soon a precocious art star, recognized by the older Klimt, for instance, as a greater draughtsman. His is a tale of Bohemia. In his early twenties, he was arrested and jailed, charged with using underage girls as nude models. Eventually this was found to be false, but he was kept in jail because he allowed them into a studio filled with what the judge considered to be pornography. He did have a favorite model and girlfriend who had been Klimt’s model and girlfriend and was indeed very young. He left her for a more middle class woman, whom he married. World War I arrived and he joined the Austrian army. He served in Vienna and continued to paint. His country was losing the war. But he had a show which received transcendent reviews in the spring of 1918. In October 1918, his wife was six months pregnant when, despite elaborate precautions, she succumbed suddenly to Spanish Influenza. Schiele died three days later, the day of his wife’s funeral. He was 28.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Birds and Bruins

As a Canadian I know how hockey trumps baseball. The Boston Red Sox, for instance, can only win the World Series when there’s no NHL. In 2004, the NHL was on strike. In 1918, a sizable portion of the NHL died from bird flu.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Albinio birds in the wild are often harassed by their own kind. Nero (1954) cited a completely white red-winged blackbird in an immense Sept. flock that was chased repeatedly by its companions, yet it always returned to the flock. In Ore., an albino barn swallow was constantly chased by others of its kind, and another near Stone Dam, NY, all-white but with dark eyes (incomplete albinism), was chased by other barn swallows whenever it flew. Cherry Kearton (1931) British ornithologist, in his studies of S. African penguins, wrote that three freakish young in a nesting colony (one had an entirely black head, another a white head, the third was completely albino) were friendless, shunned, and generally abused by their companions.
--The Audubon Society Encyclopdia of North American Birds