Thursday, July 05, 2012

I was reading the other day about Honore Fragonard, the cousin of the Rococo painter. The more interesting of the Fragonards, Honore was expelled from his job at Paris' veterinary school after a few years for being a madman. He had a fondness for flaying specimens, preserving all of their insides, and setting them up in theatrical ways. Eventually he supported himself by making grotesqueries for the aristocracy, dissecting and reassembling creatures at home in the usual way of madmen. (What is actually remarkable is that, given my fondness for Frederik Ruysch and his similarly creepy morality tableaux, I am only now learning about the habits of the Fragonards.)

In any case I feel like the appeal should be obvious, the need to take things apart and put them back together again, to turn all of the mysteries inside out. But in that case it is perhaps not surprising that his cousin, who painted imaginary lives in vivid color, is the one we remember.

1 comment:

Phil said...

I learned to dread the quarter that the vet students on my dorm floor had Cat Anatomy. I'd walk into the bathroom and be assaulted by a wave of formaldehyde emanating from a tray in the sink that contained a vivisected cat, its insides hanging out and color-coded either on purpose or by some chemical accident.