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« A Map of the Kingdom of Corsets, 1939 | Main | Odd Art Department: Art Brut in Advertising? »


mahendra singh

I suspect he's one of those young men that one sees on Italian streets, then and now, loafing about with an insouciant nonchalance, perfectly dressed and coiffed, usually springing into action only when a good-looking woman heaves into view … or he's simply bored at being stuck in that particular woodcut.

BTW, that tree on the left is rendered pretty cool, pollard willow perhaps?


He's still trying to figure out if he's the father.


How about this. I think he could be thinking of the eventual crucifixion of the babe. His feet are crossed and in a position that the feet of Christ are in in artwork that show Christ hanging on the cross. Also, look at the branch of the tree his arm is on. It's at a 90 degree angle---like a cross which was made from wood that Christ hung on. It's kind of an odd branch to be just sticking out like that for no reason. Also, his back is against the tree--just like is depicted when Christ is on the cross. The other thing is with Joseph's robes. The way they are gathered and layered are like the cloth that in artist's renditions are covering Christ's private parts as he hangs on the cross. So I think he's gazing off into the future thinking about the baby's future. Oh, one more thing. His right hand seems to be under all the fabric, too. Not sure what to make of that. There's a scripture something about the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing--not sure how that ties in. Anyway, there are my thoughts.

mahendra singh

just realized it's an engraving, well, that changes everything … Joseph is waiting for the invention of etching, the slacker

John Ptak

Leslie: good show! I didn't see this but now that I put your eyes on I can see the similarities. What do you reckon his face expression to be?

John Ptak

Jeff: well, there *is* that whole element to think about. Even if Joseph was 99% certain that the baby his wife gave birth to was god's, there is still that nagging 1%. Maybe the artist caught Joseph in his one percent phase.

John Ptak

Mahendra: Joseph's pose does look moderno-cosmo-contempo, though not new yorkish. Definitely euro-f;avored. There's no doubt about it for me: Joseph's pose just doesn't belong in this picture at this time.

John Ptak

Leslie! Did you notice the salamander crawling up the base of the tree? Symbol of rebirth/regeneration? Long ago people thought the salamander to be other-earthly because it seemed to be born of fire: people would throw a log on a fire or sumpin', and a salamander would come crawling out from its hiding place. And instead of it being a crawly in a dark spot it became something whose beginnings were the flame. The salamander got a very bad name there in SLC in the early '80's I remember...


John! I think that Joseph's expression is one of deep contemplation---this innocent babe will grow up to be hated and scorned, spat upon, and treated unfairly plus a whole lot more--this baby that he would raise as his own son, who he would undoubtedly grow to love. I think he was thinking about what was to come in the child's life. I think he was thinking about the responsibility he had been given.

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