The Other "Mona Lisa" and Ponderings of "Abstract" Art:

PORTRAIT OF A PORTRAIT: This sketch, by Raphael,
was made while Leonardo was still working on his
masterpiece. Several features, such as the two columns,
are similar to the painting ("London's 'Mona Lisa'")
kept by Dr. Henry Pulizter in London.

As most are familiar, one of Da Vinci's "trademarks" and distinct characteristics in which made his work stand out in an iconic fashion, was that he held his paintbrush in his left hand and would often times smooth in the paint with his right hand to achieve a particular effect. One way in which one is able to authenticate his work is by looking at his fingerprints that would often show up very clearly in the paintings. That being said, experts have compared other prints on a version of the "Mona Lisa" jointly owned by a Swiss syndicate and London scientist, Dr. Henry Pulitzer, with those prints on the other Da Vinci paintings, and, of course, the verdict was out! The painting that was in the possession of Dr. Pulitzer is an authentic Leonardo, a portrait of Mona Lisa del Giocondo.

LONDON'S "MONA LISA": A version which bears
fingerprints that match up with those on other
authenticated paintings by Da Vinci. It is thought to be of
Mona Lisa del Gioconda, while the Louvre version is of
Costanza d'Avalos, "La Gioconda."

a bit: I've always found interest in paintings that are shrouded in controversy, whether it be Oriental art, abstract art (especially that of "The Flowering of San Francisco" artists of the late 50's and early 60's), surrealism, Cubism, &c., whatever the "style" may be, interests me for the mere fact that, not only does my imaginative juices begin flowing, but my writing juices, as well. Of course, after studying one of the strangest paintings in the world, The Mystery of Mad Maggie (. . .as it's often called, though bears no "true name" — but the name of which it is acquired came from the earliest historian of Flemish painting, Carel van Mander, writing one generation after it was painted, called it Dulle Griet, which means "Mad Maggie". . .)

I realized that every image tells a story, and most usually, typically, suffers no loss of "mystery" (often considered by "non-understanders" labeling artists as raving lunatics, and fair enough!). Infinitely surprising to me is the notion that every object has to be "labeled" into a certain stimuli or nucleus before our brains can react from it with what we "know" from learning about it (elongated by the ''mathematics of communication'' - and we all know that we can and do enjoy certain sequences of quite abstract SOUNDS, [in this case, as an example] PATTERNS of pulsation of the air that we are almost devoid of human content). To me, everything is abstract in its own right; it's own existing mass. It's merely all how it's looked upon, and later, I will speak more about why "realistic art" and "abstract art" (as being said, the two offer no real logic as what should be debated as a particular art-form that is more superior to the other) can exist in the world side by side, even with one artist at the same time.

So, as I have been swept into another orbit (seeking an uprooted exploration); back to controversies and aesthetic expressionism ("Let no man under-value the implications of this work, or its power for Life — or for death, if it misused" — and what of the "now"; the "spirit of the place"?!) of Da Vinci and the false Mona Lisas.

The face of the "Mona Lisa" smiles mysteriously down, if you've ever noticed, and not only from the Louvre in Paris, but also from various walls (to this day, being carried around like a wallet, it would seem, or at least its "history" would speak of such). The latter, if you will, said by Pulitzer, but a completely different version by Da Vinci and his studio. And while there are more than sixty "alleged" Mona Lisas catalogued throughout the world, Pulitzer was most certain and positive that his own painting was of pure authencity.

Da Vinci, as he would point out, habitually did two or more versions of his portraits. The original sitter was Mona Lisa del Giocondo, who, at the time, was mourning the death of her baby daughter and wore a transparent veil during the sittings. Da Vinci spent fours years on the painting and he eventually left it with the Giocondos. Then, shortly before he went to France, at the invitation of Francis the First, Guiliano de Medici asked him to paint a portrait of his current mistress, Costanza d'Avalos. Coincidentally, Costanza not only resembled Mona Lisa ever-so-slightly, but was also nicknamed "La Gioconda" (which means "Smiler"). Da Vinci adapted his alternative version of Mona Lisa del Giocondo's portrait, turning the fact into that of Costanza. But, no sooner had he completed the work, Medici decided to drop his mistress in favor of a profitable marriage (good boy!) and so did not buy the picture from Leonardo after all. It was the second portrait, as Pulitzer had stated, that Da Vinci took with him, along with all of his other unsold works, to France. It is this version (of Constanza) that Pulitzer maintains, that graces the walls of the Louvre (or did, anyhow).

NUDE GIOCONDA: There were more than
60 alleged Mona Lisas, as is known, and here,
a seminude portrait of "La Belle Gabrielle,"
which is currently in the collection of Lord Spencer
of Northamptonshire, England,
and is "attributed to the school of Da Vinci."

In what case can be made that everything is abstract? To separate the two, firstly, would be silly. Secondly, there shouldn't be any other unequated progress that art should "stand alone" in one box, while every other label, mold, caricature, expression, dialect, critique, &c., &c., tries to dig that one particular thing out of the box to try and split it apart like a pecan. What lies inside that isn't as natural as we come to make of it? This isn't, of course, to decry the learning of various procedures and styles that are derived from the creative-forms of art, but to simplify it, as has been argued, to being something of which is subjected to that of one surface'd aspect of alienation, to me, is bland (the old attage, "everything is art," just as "everything is abstract," just as "everything is avant-garde," and so on. . .).

The artist must impose some of oneself and one's ideas on the material, in a way that uses the material sympathetically, but not passively. Otherwise, you are are only behaving like the waves. There essentially must be a human imprint and a human idea.

Some people think that some abstract art is mistaken. However, all art, as said, is abstract in one sense. Not to like abstract qualities or not to like reality is to basically misunderstand what art is all about. Some artists are just more "visual," or get more excitement from nature in front of them, and they make a work of art from that. Certain other individuals do it from their insides; perhaps with a more "mental approach"; the actual image-making or image-designing can be an exercise disconnected from a relationship with the "outside world."

Every Portrait is always connected with another Portrait:
Here, "Coffee" by Richard Diebenkorn, 1959

Rosemary Brown: Music From The Immortals (Fraud or Medium?)

Rosemary Brown, transcribes music from deceased Composers?

After pondering (for a few days now) almost single-mindedly the notion that perhaps we are all in the sky before we are born, the fact that we could very-well be derivatives of the Giant of the "beanstalk," tossed down to earth after our ruptured births, the very tedious and untedious and imaginatively-focused buzzing in my mind—the fact that we may very well land on cardboard boxes with soft blankets inside for comforting our newly-fresh bodies—the imagination had me swinging open the revolving-doors of my mind towards other "spiritual" things (perhaps even a promiscuous folly of sorts, beyond the groupuscules and mascots), all-the-while, as will be said, all characterized by a certain ambiguity between interiors and exteriors with regards to what one wants to believe versus what, and where, the Reality is fastened in one's hula-hoop of idealogies and sophisticative-"thinkership."

With such a broad and somewhat silly notion (depending on what one wants to consider "silly"), I had recalled a memory in which, after listening to various classical music pieces for the evening, had linked my Birth-ideas of imaginative story-telling with other spirit-mediums (which I often find to be completely demonic, more than "ghostly"), and this time, with a fascinatingly-interesting story that has always held speculation (Dave Von Kleist: "If you're not on somebody's watchlist, you're not doing your job"), as with any subject, whether broad or shrinkable, the peculiar (and very obscure) story of Rosemary Brown (27 July 1916 - 16 November 2001), who "was a spirit medium who claimed that dead composers dictated new musical works to her. She created a small media sensation in the 1970s by claiming to produce works dictated to her by Liszt, Brahms, Bach, Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Grieg, Debussy, Chopin, Schumann and Ludwig van Beethoven."

Dead musicians that she communicated with providing her with "unwritten" pieces of music for her to learn and to perform? How uniquely-refined (and shaped) I had thought—this immediate fascination with perhaps a perfect blend of drawing attention and making oneself feel empowered by creating controversy? Then again, where else would the "proof" come from if it weren't right there before our eyes?

From a selection in her autobiography, Rosemary wrote:

"The first time I saw Franz List [sic] I was about seven years old, and already accustomed to seeing the spirits of the so-called dead. For some reason he never said who he was that morning. I suppose he knew I would eventually see a picture of him somewhere and would recognize him . . . He then said: ‘when you grow up I will come back and give you music.’"

Franz Liszt

When Igor Stravinsky appeared to Rosemary 14 months after his death and dicated 60 lines of music, she was not surprised. For he was, she said, the 20th dead composer or author to use her extraordinary talent.
It was only at the age of 7 that she was introduced to the "wonderful world" of dead musicians (imagine!). A spirit with long white hair and a flowing black cassock appeared and told her he was a composer and would make her a famous musician one day (perhaps an angel?). Rosemary basically didn't have any idea who this "ghost" was until around 10 years later when she saw a picture of none other than Franz Liszt.
Rosemary's Mother and Grandmother were both psychic (although I personally don't believe in psychics) and she had supposedly told her parents of events before her birth, and when she was asked how she could know, she would reply that her "visitors" had told her. Listz, being that it may be the case, wasn't one of these "visitors," and in fact, he didn't appear to her until 1964. By this time, Rosemary had married and raised two children, while living in a beautiful Victorian terraced house in London; not to mention the fact that she was now a middle-aged widow.

Before 1964, she paid very little attention to music and had had very minute and small amounts of "instruction" in it. In fact, after the war had subsided, she purchased a second-hand piano and began taking lessons for about a year, even though many people were thoroughly not impressed by her "playing skills." Then, suddenly, in 1964, Liszt returned and "renewed" his "contact" with her, and original compositions began flooding in from a random-array of great musicians of the past. Rosemary transcribed these pieces from Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, and, of course, Listz himself (all of these as previously mentioned before). Of these included a 40-page Schubert sonata, a Fantasie Impromptu in three movements by Chopin, 12 songs by Schubert, and 2 sonatas by Beethoven, as well as his 10th and 11th Symphonies (both of them unfinished).

Apparently each composer had their own "special way" of dictating to Rosemary. Liszt, for instance, "controlled her hands for a few bars at a time, and then she wrote down the notes." Others, such as Chopin, "told her notes and pushed her hands onto the right keys." Schubert, is said to have tried to sing his compositions to her, but she stated that it was impossible for her because he didn't have a very good voice. Beethoven and Bach "simply dictated the notes, a method that she disliked since she had no idea of what the finished product would sound like." From the source, it states that they all spoke to Rosemary in english, which, as she says, didn't surprise her whatsoever: "Why shouldn't they have gone on learning on the other side?" she asked. However, when agitated, "they were liable to relapse into their native tongues" in which Beethoven would often spout Mein Gott! when they were perhaps hard at work and the doorbell would ring, disturbing the dictations.

Here and Here are two wonderful, wonderful sites in regards to it, in which you can actually hear some pieces from these so-called Transcribings!

Rosemary Brown

Criticism: "The opinions of musical critics were varied on the merit of Rosemary's transcriptions. But most agreed that in their style they bore a great resemblance to the composers' published works. Forgeries and imitations had frequently been made in the past, but considerable musical knowledge is thought to be required for this. Mrs. Brown maintained that she had never had any musical training aside from a few piano lessons. It was suggested that she may have had advanced musical training but then forgotten it in a bad case of amnesia. This suggestion was, however, described as preposterous by the Browns' family doctor. Brown's musical skill was such that she was unable to play many of the pieces she claimed had been dictated to her. Rosemary was thoroughly investigated by both musicians and psychologists. None could find any way in which she could be cheating.

Other explanations were put forward. One was that the composers had left behind them unknown, written music and that Rosemary was able to read these sheets, unwittingly using a form of telepathy.

Another suggestion was that she picked up music from people around her by telepathy. However, she did not spend her time in the company of musicians who might have been composing works in the manner of Bach and Brahms.

Of the music itself, Richard Rodney Bennett, the British composer, said: "A lot of people can improvise, but you couldn't fake music like this without years of training. I couldn't have faked some of the Beethoven myself."

Hepzibah Menuhin, the concert pianist and sister of Yehudi Menuhin, was also impressed. She insisted: "There is no question but that she is a very sincere woman. The music is absolutely in the style of these composers."

Alan Rich, music critic of New York magazine, took a different line. Having heard a privately issued record of piano pieces allegedly by the spirits of several dead composers, Rich concluded that they were just sub-standard reworkings of some of their better-known compositions. In 1969 she was put to a test by the British Broadcasting Corporation, who set her at a piano where she waited for the spirit of Liszt to appear to her. In due course she produced a piece, supposedly dictated by Liszt. As it proved too hard for her to play, another pianist was engaged to play it. The piece was subsequently studied by a Liszt expert, who said it had definite similarities to the great composer's work. A recording of some of the music produced by Brown (The Rosemary Brown Piano Album) was released, and various books by her (including Unfinished Symphonies: Voices from the Beyond) were published."


Superman with eyes of a devil?

Spring-Heeled Jack, Leaping Away

In southwest London, mid 1830's, what was once a "rumor" for the most part had quickly became terrifyingly-confirmed in February of 1838, about the persisting reports of a leaping, bounding superman who was an alarming figure that flew through the air in great leaps across many paths. To most, naturally, it would seem like something out of one's highly-equipped imagination, but apparently this spring-heeled creature was more than that, and became something of a legendary tale.

Jane Alsop was young and pretty. She lived with her two sisters and their father on a London back street. She had heard of the bogeyman called Spring-Heeled Jack, but she was too "sensible" to heed such tales.

One night there was a violent knocking at the door. Jane went to answer it. The man standing in the shadows near the front gate swung around, blaring, "I'm a police officer!" He went on, "For God's sake, bring me a light, for we have caught Spring-Heeled Jack in the lane!" Jane thought about this for a moment: "The stories were true after all." She ran off to fetch a candle. "I'll see him being arrested," she thought, as she rushed back outside with the candle. But, as soon as she gave the man the man the candle at the gate, he grabbed her by the neck and pinned her head under his arm. Then he ripped at her dress and body. She screamed and tore herself away. He chased her, caught her by the hair, and clawed her face and neck. Her sister, hearing the screams, ran into the street and cried out for help. But before anyone could stop him, Jack soared away into the darkness.

Jane later described her inhuman attacker to police officials. "He was wearing a kind of helmet," she had told them, "and a tight-fitting white costume like an oilskin. His face was hideous, his eyes were like balls of fire. His hands had great claws, and he vomited blue and white flames."

This description that Jane had given was repeated over and over again in the following years. Always the leaps, the flames, and the eyes of hell were recounted. Lucy Scales, 18 years old, the sister of a butcher, had just left her brother's house one evening on her way home with her sister. As they walked along a lonely street, a tall, cloaked figure jumped out of the shadows. He spat blue flames at Lucy's face, blinding her.

During the 1850's and 1860's, Spring-Heeled Jack was sighted all over England, particularly in the Midlands. In the 1870's, army authorities set traps after scared "sentries" reported being terrified by a man who darted out of the darkness to slap their faces with an icy hand or sprang onto the roofs of their sentry boxes. Angry townspeople shot at him in the streets one night in 1877, but, as always, he merely laughed and melted away into the darkness.

"Where did he go so quickly?"

No one, even today, really has any idea who, or what, Spring-Heeled Jack was. For a while, suspicion had rested on the eccentric young Marquis of Waterford, but though the "mad marquis," as he was known, was one of the "wild ones" of Victorian society, he ws never vicious.

Jack's eyes of hell were last seen in 1904 in Liverpool (66 years after the first sightings). There he started a panic one night by bounding up and down the streets, leaping from the cobblestones to rooftops and back. When some of the braver ones tried to corner him, he simply vanished into darkness he came from...this time for good?