Friday, July 15, 2011

Kitschy Koo????

You'd think that four years of strolling around the streets and parks of Roma had taught me never to be surprised at what is just around the next corner or over the tree tops.  However while walking off last Friday's lunch in Villa Torlonia I was a bit taken aback to see a startling familiar scene looming much, much larger than life through the pines.

Alfred Eisenstaedt's photo, taken on V-J Day August 14 1945, is perhaps, after Rodin's, the most famous kiss in the world.   It was one of those moments of photo-journalism serendipity that captured the mood and spirit of a time and an event.  It was published in Life Magazine a week later and became an indelible image of the euphoria of the Post-War era.
In New York's Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers. - was the caption given Eisenstaedt's photo when it appeared in Life Magazine.

But there was a second photo taken of that celebratory kiss between a jubilant seabee and a services nurse.  Though it is not as well know Victor Jorgensen, a US Navy photo-journalist captured the same moment and it appeared in the New York Times the following day.
A different angle - a different view - Victor Jorgensen's photo of the same moment doesn't quite have the same cache as the more famous version.  Because Jorgensen worked for the US Government his photo is in the public domain.
When artist John Seward Johnson created his "Unconditional Surrender" he was accused of possible copyright infringement but was able to site the Jorgensen photo as his inspiration - unlike the Eisenstaedt it is in the public domain.  However that was only one of the possible sins Johnson has been charged with in connection with his mammoth sculpture.  When it was shown at the bayfront in Sarasota he was accused of creating nothing more than a copy of a famous image that "doesn't even qualify as kitsch."  While in San Diego art critics said that kitsch it was and resembled nothing more than a cheap theme park souvenir.

Well I'm no art critic but I know what I like - and it definitely is kitschy but this is one time when I rather enjoy kitschy.

Johnson, whose rather eventful life can be read here, first created "Unconditional Surrender" as a 25 ft high bronze piece.  He then recreated it in Styrofoam  for its first showing in Sarasota. Since then copies have appeared as well in aluminum including the version currently looming over the terrace promenade at Villa Torlonia.

The Johnson is just one of many pieces that are being displayed throughout the various parks and green spaces of Roma this summer.  The good people at the Roma Biennale di Scultura have installed some fun, some interesting and some just frankly silly works of modern sculpture that brighten the landscape and add variety to the scene.

Almost as big as the Johnson this resin piece by Maurizio Orrico - Il viaggiatore (the Traveler/the Passenger) seems to be observing the embracing couple. And it may just be me but even with a featureless face I get the feeling he's being either a bit disapproving - or maybe just envious.

15 luglio - Sant'Amerigo
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Debra She Who Seeks said...

Hey, kitsch has its place too.


oh how great.

yvette said...

A discovery! And this is the happiest
and everlasting one!