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George Tooker
The Subway
1950

This painting always stirred something in me, but I really never could put a finger on it. How does it make you feel? What could this mean?
The lighting in this painting is interesting, because it's almost like it's coming from every direction, which feels a bit overwhelming. Like look at the shadow at her feet.

Similarly, she's in the center of the painting--she's like at the center of view and seems more exposed than anyone else.

People are also sort of 'coming from every direction' or they could see her--some are looking and some are not, but they could look at her.

The men are much more physically covered too, and not exposed. They are wearing hats and their coats are closed, and pants covering their legs.

She is wearing a long coat too, but it shows a colorful red dress, and a hand that is reaching out perhaps in search of someone else's hand, or to cover her abdomen. She also shows much more emotion, whereas the men around her in every direction appear more guarded and as if they are only showing they are looking at her at times.

So it looks lonely, and it looks overwhelming.

Red was also a color that signified scandal in the past, or passion--red like the blood that supposedly came from the hymen after loss of virginity. Red takes on an extra sexual meaning for women, though in general it's somewhat linked to passion and blood in general.

So again, she's wearing this bright red, and the people everywhere, overwhelming her with their neutral, heavily armored staring. Idk

She also just looks like how I feel in busy places like that! lol I am not a fan of busy train stations and city subways. Maybe it's a comment about urbanism and how lonely cities can feel, even though there are more people packed into them.
 

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HENRY FUSELI, THE NIGHTMARE, 1781

879405f4da1b827696ec823f5683e8d7be1abc07.jpg

The first thought that pops up in my mind after seeing this is: sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis makes one feel a weight upon their chest, and makes them see figures in their peripheral vision.

It could be something else: the incubus. The stark lighting, the red drapes in the background, the white innocence emanating from the supine lady and the dark and sick pallor of the apelike figure atop her chest implies something sexual and taboo, and is supposed to disgust the viewer too.

What is your interpretation of this?
 

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Discussion Starter #184
HENRY FUSELI, THE NIGHTMARE, 1781

View attachment 837483

The first thought that pops up in my mind after seeing this is: sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis makes one feel a weight upon their chest, and makes them see figures in their peripheral vision.

It could be something else: the incubus. The stark lighting, the red drapes in the background, the white innocence emanating from the supine lady and the dark and sick pallor of the apelike figure atop her chest implies something sexual and taboo, and is supposed to disgust the viewer too.

What is your interpretation of this?
Hahaha!!! Now YOU read MY mind it seems :proud:
 

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Maybe she is eighter pregnant or in love.
Red is also often associated with love.

Hm... I don't know, I get the feeling there is someting going over my head about context here. But I wonder about the environment, the roof is so low, and there is that kind of halfway up the wall paint that is common in industrial buildings. I wonder if it might be some underground factory perhaps? Then there is her hand, it is too big, it could be to show importance or too get attention, or perhaps it is a transvestite and that is why he looks around nervously... but I get more the feeling that she is scared, the person just behind her looks a bit scary, and the whole place, it is like a prison of sorts, bars, no windows. There is a... lack, like the modernist lack of... life, everyone looks like they are hiding in their booths or coats in this lifeless environment.

HENRY FUSELI, THE NIGHTMARE, 1781

View attachment 837483

The first thought that pops up in my mind after seeing this is: sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis makes one feel a weight upon their chest, and makes them see figures in their peripheral vision.

It could be something else: the incubus. The stark lighting, the red drapes in the background, the white innocence emanating from the supine lady and the dark and sick pallor of the apelike figure atop her chest implies something sexual and taboo, and is supposed to disgust the viewer too.

What is your interpretation of this?
What I find a bit odd is that she doesn't look asleep, she looks dead. And sleep paralysis or wakeupdreams seem likely inspiration as you say. At first I didn't see the scary horse in the background, it seems like the kind of shapes you can see when waking up, and then try to make sense of into some kind of face. The incubus or troll or what is might be on her chest seems like something to show that feeling of not being able to breath properly, but there is something passive about him, like he sat down there and now don't know what to do...
 

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Discussion Starter #191
Hm... I don't know, I get the feeling there is someting going over my head about context here. But I wonder about the environment, the roof is so low, and there is that kind of halfway up the wall paint that is common in industrial buildings. I wonder if it might be some underground factory perhaps? Then there is her hand, it is too big, it could be to show importance or too get attention, or perhaps it is a transvestite and that is why he looks around nervously... but I get more the feeling that she is scared, the person just behind her looks a bit scary, and the whole place, it is like a prison of sorts, bars, no windows. There is a... lack, like the modernist lack of... life, everyone looks like they are hiding in their booths or coats in this lifeless environment.



What I find a bit odd is that she doesn't look asleep, she looks dead. And sleep paralysis or wakeupdreams seem likely inspiration as you say. At first I didn't see the scary horse in the background, it seems like the kind of shapes you can see when waking up, and then try to make sense of into some kind of face. The incubus or troll or what is might be on her chest seems like something to show that feeling of not being able to breath properly, but there is something passive about him, like he sat down there and now don't know what to do...

Yess!! Exactly. You nailed it
 

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Have been looking around at murals outdoors, what do you think about these?
(first reads "we will never be as before")

Wow!This is interesting. Here is my take on it.
1.The first picture is a couple and they have ad something that glued them together but now that that glue is gone, everything just floats out, or it could be that something has come between them, that holds one of the partners back, restraining them and they can't communicate properly so....yeah. It seems like the female longs for the man but can't reach him, there is an invisible hindering, well it could have been invisible for others, but we can barely see that it is a window. She is wearing blue and white, maybe that is a symbol of sadness and innocence?
2.This is a woman who seems cold on the outside, but she shields her mouth, maybe she doesn't communicate her feelings, so that she seems to be somewhat of a mystery (represented by the triangles). It could also be that she is trying to figure out life's secrets without emotional imput but trying to think logical and clear without getting too personally biased, seeing things from a more objective viewpoint?
3.Softness has the key - but it has lost it's vibrant colors, and become too black and white in it's judegement and hence life becomes rather dull - Color is what softness need to liven up
4.This guy longs for his old life on the coast, possibly in Nordnorge, where he used to make a buisness (represented by the buisness suit) thanks to fish. But this buisness has made him rather cold so he uses a pipe (symbolic of whatever he needs) to warm him self and liven things up a bit. Smoking his pipe (at work?) brings his memories back...?
I dunno, I'm just guessing.
 

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Have been looking around at murals outdoors, what do you think about these?
(first reads "we will never be as before")
This one reminds me of a human connection--and maybe a connection between generations. The girl inside seems young, while the hand pressed against the window could be an older woman. So "we will never be as before" sounds a little ominous, but it's also optimistic, when you think of the possibilities of youth and how they could live a different life. I'm not sure what the hand on the upper left part of the window means, as it is larger than the others and closed. The other two are more expressive and mirroring each other, which suggests connection, while the hand above is just kind of sitting there and huge.

Unless the hand is to belong to the girl inside, and the mural artist purposefully made it really big because it'd be on the top of the house, so people would have to look up at it, changing the perspective, and because it was higher up, it would look smaller. I know painting large scale murals sometimes requires thinking of that change of perspective that comes with looking high up a wall. So perhaps when you look at the painting from down below, the hand looks like it belongs to the girl.



[/quote]

Looks like a pretty figurative drawing of a girl with expressive eyes. I imagine her emotionally expressive eyes that are looking towards the viewer evokes a human intimacy that is sort of juxtaposed with the industrial and public landscape (with the public street and metal door) where people don't really know each other or necessarily look each other in the eye. So it sort of forces you to regard the humanity there in a way that is safe, since you know it's a painting.

The top one looks like a mysterious owl creature with a key, which again contrasts with the sort of public, monotonous landscape it's painted on. It makes it more magical looking. Like you have a friendly spirit who's giving you the key to looking at the city in a different way than you're used to. I imagine it feels sort of comforting too at night or when alone.

Bottom one is interesting--it looks a little more intimidating to me, and I don't really know about the fishbones. Tbh to me it reminds me of homeless who live here, who make their homes in the forests and so to me it looks like while we usually try to ignore or even erase the homeless from our landscapes here, he is like 'this is my home and my wilderness here.'

I guess maybe also he could represent the fish bones--like perhaps he looks old and jagged, but he was nourishing society--he was a part of what nourished the village or the city, and now he is like the fish--a skeliton of his self when he was younger and full of energy, and perhaps had family and friends to support him. But that he is somehow also very connected to nature, with the trees and lake behind him.

But I imagine that culture might be different there and that's just my perspective as an American.
 

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Edit: (Can't edit above so posting here)

But both the bottom two murals remind me of homelessness, only in that the presence of humanity on the streets here is so often in the form of the homeless.

The own creature reminds me of something comforting for a homeless, like his own personal art on his wall. It's something you can enjoy when you are walking alone at night, or even trying to settle down to sleep on the street at night.

But I know the US has a lot of homeless people compared to some other countries, and so I don't really know if that'd be on the mind of artists--but it does remind me of such in the last couple paintings.

They are almost like mythological creatures, magical beings, or deities in a town or city--difficult to understand but powerful. Whereas the first two murals seem distinctly human, maybe because they are so figurative.

The first two remind me more of what a child might see or experience.

It's interesting how the environment plays such a big role in the interpretation of the mural--like you can't really separate them.

My favorite is the first though--it's so expressive.

I think the upper hand is the girl's so it is clinging to the window like it wants to be able to open it or grasp. The hands are pushed together as if they want to connect. But they can't.

It reminds me of immigration or seeking asylum because when you immigrate to a new country you change, and you also change when you experience a traumatic event (such as many traumatic events that cause immigration).

And you also lose people sometimes, because sometimes you are separated at the border or they are deported (happens a lot in the US), so there is always this desperate clinging to family that tends to happen, where they are still torn apart. Or your family has simply died in the process of fleeing (or before).

It's only the children who really understand what it means, because they can fully accept how painful it is to lose a loved one, and they can see that person simply for who they are, which is the loved one that means so much to them. They don't see the politics or whatever.

Edit again: But it could just be a woman and a man, and not even related to children getting split from their parents, as that's probably more of an American issue at the border right now. lol I guess art can be interpreted in so many ways--but still, I think it's about human connection and bond, and change and fear, so that's similar.
 

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HENRY FUSELI, THE NIGHTMARE, 1781

View attachment 837483

The first thought that pops up in my mind after seeing this is: sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis makes one feel a weight upon their chest, and makes them see figures in their peripheral vision.

It could be something else: the incubus. The stark lighting, the red drapes in the background, the white innocence emanating from the supine lady and the dark and sick pallor of the apelike figure atop her chest implies something sexual and taboo, and is supposed to disgust the viewer too.

What is your interpretation of this?
My boyfriend took a pic when I slept. Love him :joyous::joyous:
 

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^Looks like a mountain of Christ? I guess it suggests mass production and instead of the symbolic meaning of mountain, suggests more of a literal, concrete idea of a mountain of Christ's body, which is a little more disturbing.

Here's a painting by Timothy Robert Smith called "Any Road."



 

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I couldn't see it in your post, but googled, it is this isn't it?

865596


I am thinking life choices. It reminds me of dreams, how things can be in them, with unclear dimensions, often in mine there are also corridors or mineshafts or similar, tunnels, in different directions, and you are to choose. and everything seems in flux, like this image is in the moment, a second later, the crossroads might show other options. There is the downstairs door, the exit, it seems most interesting somehow, but also scary, instinctively it seems more dangerous to go further down in an unknown place, there is also signs warning, saying restricted area or something, the "wide path" seems to be going into a grocery store of some kind, or some other store, with packaged goods, looking almost endless, making me think of the consumer life, and that kind of environment, where there is so many choices, but it seems so lifeless often, no windows, and just row after row of stuff. I don't know what the pipes are about, with their "don't"-signs, perhaps it is about learning to control the place, how the machinery works, but you are not allowed to. At the moment, she faces the door to the seemingly free place, with a welcoming person inviting to get on board the lift... but it seems untrustworthy somehow, perhaps it is how you cant see an end, so where does it lead? is there something out there at all or is it just empty bliss? like opting out sort of, and also the clouds he stands on, there is a hole there, like a small black hole. The airplanes I think are maps, but they are swirling around and elusive. The warm spotlight is on the woman, it is her decision we are waiting for. Then there is the swirl... It has the most restricted-signs on it, but it also seems the most appealing option, it is going away, like it might have been one of the paths to choose, but she didn't take it, so the dimensions change and that option is soon not possible. It seems to show a woman under an outdoor roof, with a pillar, and... a field of flowers? it might be herself.
All in all, I see it as a depiction about choices, easy and difficult ones, and how it is constantly changing.
 

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Thanks @attic ! Yes--for some reason my image didn't show at all. I copied your link and put it in through edit, and it showed another image there, but I couldn't see it either.

Hopefully this image stays up, unlike the last one.

And I really enjoyed your analysis! I got a lot of those impressions too. I found a lot of his art interesting, but I just saw it when I posted this.

I think the one on the right seemed threatening to me as it is about freedom but there is someone who has to offer it--so it's like she can't just do it on her own. She needs to trust the person and the ski lift seems like a place that would require a lot of trust especially if she doesn't know how to ski--it's all very specialized.

A lot of his other art also takes on a sort of mandala/fractal-like quality that moves you into the whirlpool--sometimes it seems unwanted perhaps. I find his imagery really interesting.
 
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