Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Those friends of the decanter who have some passing familiarity with antiquity and the arts will quickly recognize this sculpture as the Augustus of Prima Porta, a likely posthumous and somewhat artificially-hulkified tribute to the first, and arguably greatest, of the Roman Emperors. The piece is one of the two or three most recognizable bits of sculpture to come down to us from classickal civilization. (In fact, I had a framed poster of it on my walls all through high school and college.)
Recently, it came to ol’ Robbo’s attention that a “street artist” calling himself “Gaia” has incorporated an image of this statue into a big mural that adorns one end of some new Mediterranean restaurant in Dee Cee called Pinea. (You can go here to check the thing out. I won’t try to repaste it here because of copyright, and besides, I’m sure the restaurant people wouldn’t mind the clicks. For those of you who don’t make the jump, suffice to say ol’ Octavian is depicted in vibrant colors with a string of citrus slices around his neck and various items of Italian cuisine in the background. Childish, but ultimately harmless, and at least it ties in with the place.)
Ol’ Robbo only happens to have learned about this work because of a monthly glossy called “Modern Luxury DC” that shows up, quite un-asked for, in the Port Swiller mailbox. This mag purports to be the arbiter hipsterium of Your Nation’s Capital, carrying a variety of articles about coo-el new art exhibits, designer clothing, fashionable watering holes, “edgy” architecture, and up-and-coming Bright Young Things and Politicos. (To give but one example of the latter, the latest issue featured an article on Mother’s Day with a photo of the current First Lady and her children. The headline reads “Queen Mother”. Note to Modern Luxury DC: Yeah, about that? No.)
Anyhoo, each issue of said mag goes straight to the basket in the downstairs loo, where Robbo flips through it just to keep up with exactly how awful things are out there in HipsterLand, until he is thoroughly disgusted and tosses it. Perusing the latest, I came across an “On the Scene” item about the unveiling of “Gaia’s” new mural at a private cocktail party (which see the link above). And what did “Modern Luxury DC” have to say about this piece of art? “The new mural features a 14.5 foot tall Roman soldier.”
A “Roman soldier”, eh? As I say above, the Prima Porta is a famous icon depicting one of the greatest figures of classickal history. And all this hipster-doofus rag can come up with to describe it is “a Roman soldier“?
Cor lumme, stone the crows.
This got me wondering how they would treat some other giants of the cultural and politickal history on which their Neo-Tinsel Age is built:
Perhaps I over-react, but is there nobody, nobody in the chain from artist to writer to editor who could do any better than “a Roman soldier”?
It’s bad enough that these people don’t know what they’re talking about, but I fear that they also just don’t care, which is much, much worse.