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April222010

Sempé Fi: Et in Arcadia I Go

Filed under: Sempé Fi   Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4-12-10 Edward Sorel Spring Has Sprung.JPG

Pollux writes:

Lust is in the air. The hooves of libidinous satyrs and the perfectly formed feet of nymphs pitter-patter across the lawns of Central Park.

In Edward Sorel’s “Spring Has Sprung,” which graces the cover of the April 12, 2010 issue of The New Yorker, Sorel transplants the Dionysian satyrs and nymphs of Greek myth to Central Park.

The scene is pastoral but not motionless. Sorel’s linework creates the illusion of rapid movement and change, symbolizing the coming of spring. “Spring Has Sprung,” evoking the High Renaissance work of Titian or the Baroque paintings of Peter Paul Rubens, is playful and spirited. It is modernized, but not obviously so. Only the baby carriage, lamp post, and skyscrapers in the background betray our modern era.

Sorel’s beardless satyrs cavort and play like they’ve done since time immemorial. The satyrs engage in passionate and amorous activities, sometimes taking the lead, sometimes not. In Greek myths, satyrs usually did all of the chasing, but Sorel’s nymphs are sexually confident, kissing their male companions with verve and initiative. Spring has truly sprung.

But it is not all lust. A nymph gazes into the eyes of a reclining satyr, who plays a pipe. Another couple gazes at a pond from a bridge, while another goes for a walk through the woods. A single satyr sits on a tree, serenading the carnal carousing with a tune from a double shepherd’s pipe.

Sorel’s update on Arcadia introduces a wistful note as well. An older satyr smiles knowingly at the revels while pushing the product of love or lust in a baby carriage. He’s bearded, balding on top, and bespectacled, but a satyr never forgets.

Comments

As a lifelong satyr devotee, I instantly fell in love with Sorel’s work with this piece. The write up here is equally brilliant in its analysis!

Damon BlalackMay 14, 2010

Thank you, Damon! I appreciate that. There should be more satyrs and satyrization in the world.

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