Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

100 Philosophers 100 Artworks 100 Words #42

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Philosopher: Byron Davies, Harvard University

Artwork: Savage Messiah, 1972, directed by Ken Russell

100 words: There’s a scene in Ken Russell’s Savage Messiah (about the ties binding French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Polish novelist Sophie Brzeska): Gaudier-Brzeska promises an art dealer, over drinks late at night, something in stone by the early morning. But he’s got nothing, not even a hunk of stone. And so we’re off to the cemetery (shades of movie versions of Frankenstein) to steal a gravestone that, in an apogee of the unhinged creative energy that this frenetic film conveys throughout, Henri carves into a beautiful, textured torso. It’s a great rush. (And it’s got Lindsay Kemp, who taught Bowie mime.)

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