“Boston’s Apollo” celebrates McKeller’s role in Sargent’s work but does not hide the artist’s racism. In her essay for the exhibition’s catalog, Professor Greene cites racial slurs Sargent used. “He’s an amazing painter — that doesn’t go away,” she said. “But we need to pause and rethink how he approached Thomas McKeller as a subject.”
(Alina Tugend, “John Singer Sargent’s Secret Muse,” NYTimes, 3-9-20)
I’ve heard Davy’s grey charmingly compared to the color of “goose poo.” I’m in cahoots with the tone scale ranging from dark white to light black, so have grappled “goose poo” to my lexicon with hoops of steel.
I mention Davy’s grey because Sargent lived from 1856 to 1925, and I imagine his world to have been goose-poo-colored. To live in it was to be a goose-pooist by default for most people. The standout would be someone who wasn’t.
Many call foul, but I personally deem it on my own recognizance a meet and licit reckoning to register goose-pooism in its historical sauce as well as in its present stew.
My maternal grandfather chastised his daughter for dating a “Jew-boy” American serviceman during World War II. Where I was born, the railroad still slices off “Mexican town” from the white neighborhoods. Like Sargent’s achievement as a painter, goose-pooism doesn’t go away either.
(c) 2020 JMN