If there’s something that can be called a Beethovian gravitas assumable by a sculptor who is female, artist Maggi Hambling is a contender. That’s by way of an admiring aside to the topic of this article.
“Luxuriantly bushed,” “obligingly passive,” “implausibly perky” are phrases that Stuart Jeffries brings to bear on Hambling’s recently unveiled statue of a naked Mary Wollstonecraft, author of “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” in Newington Green, north London.
“Instant furore” around an art work almost always argues in its creative favor. There’s stolid momentum in all ages behind making only what middling palates want to taste. Hambling flouts it with style and fervor.
Bee Rowlatt, author of “In Search of Mary” and advocate for a statue of Wollstonecraft, states a useful slant to the case:
The idea, as Rowlatt explained, was to represent the birth of a movement, rather than Wollstonecraft herself. The hope, too, was to get away from putting people on pedestals.
(Stuart Jeffries, ‘There are plenty of schlongs in art’ — Maggi Hambling defends her nude sculpture of Mary Wollstonecraft,” theguardian.com, 12-16-20)
This article corroborates the vitality of salty parlance around genitalia. I first heard the Yiddish slang for “penis” spoken to a national public when candidate Trump said, in 2015, that Hilary Clinton “got schlonged” by Barack Obama. “She lost, I mean she lost,” he added helpfully (cnn.com, 12-22-15). This was roughly a year before his earlier “pussy” remark came to light — another milestone. History will credit Trump with forcing journalism to flex its criteria for what’s printable.
(c) 2020 JMN