Mary Anointing Jesus Analysis

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Bruce Conner is a post-war artist who began his career in San Francisco and became renowned for his works in diverse fields of film, photography, assemblages, painting, and sculpture. He was born in 1933 and passed away 2008. Nearing the end of his career in 2003, Bruce revisited collages from his earlier works and with the help of digital technology, he translated them into tapestries (Frieling and Garrels 12). One of these resulting pieces is Mary Anointing Jesus with the Precious Oils of Spikenard. The piece was first imagined in 1987 and then recreated with the assistance of Donald Farnsworth in 2003. Currently it is on display in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts which I had a chance to visit recently. Out of the countless artworks …show more content…
Yet upon a second more detailed examination, traditional elements of composition began to appear. In the center of the piece, there is an identifiable pyramidal structure of the figures, with the reclining nude upon the boot at the base, the three figures, Mary, Jesus, and the contemplative apostle in the back, making up the body of the pyramid, and sun-ring at the top. Vanity and lust fall below qualities of compassion and wisdom, which ultimately is under godliness and piety. Another interesting element of composition is the way Conner uses seemingly random spheres in the composition to guide the viewer’s eyes across the tapestry. Starting with the skull within the palms of the headless man it extends down the Jesus’ shoulder, then down the arms of the reclining nude, and back up to the skull of the x-rayed figure on the right. This guided passage through the painting reveals a much more coherent narration of the themes which Conner planted in the piece. Starting with the morbid realization of the inevitability of death, to the ever-shifting subjective nature of beauty, paralleled by changing ways of which humanity beholds itself and nature (in this case, through the

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