Sagittarian Self Portraits: Half Human Half Beast
|Lucien Freud, Dec 8, 1922. Not someone you’d want to take to tea with grandma.|
There’s a darkness to Sagittarius. Often it’s hidden behind a bold front – a big belly, a tornado of talk or just loudness.
Lucien Freud – old, saggy, craggy, wearing a pair of unlaced boots – holds a palette knife in one hand lifted in gesture at the canvas we look at. I think this is his masterpiece. It’s merciless, ugly. He looks at himself and sees man as monster. He’s famous, of course, for his portraits of other people. But those never reveal the character of the sitter; they simply show Freud’s loathing of humanity and his agility with a paintbrush. In this self-portrait, he reveals himself boldly. Did he like himself?
|Bernini, 7 Dec|
Here is another Sagittarian looming out of the darkness. Edvard Munch saw monsters too. Here he is surrounded by shadows. A while ago I went to a seminar with Frank Clifford who mentioned that he often found Sagittarians, contrary to what you read in the astrology books, were prone to depression. I have found this too. I know more people with strongly Sagittarian charts who are on prescription drugs or who self-medicate than any other sign except maybe Pisces. This is interesting because both are ruled by the king of jollity, Jupiter. I should add that the two people at the seminar who did have strong Sagittarius in their charts were both perfectly happy and full of benison, which just goes to show that you can use this energy positively or negatively.
One reason for this depressive tendency is that Sagittarius has such high expectations of life’s adventure.
|Paul Klee – hardly sees himself |
as human at all.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini also emerges from the darkness in this magnificent self-portrait from around 1623. He’s best remembered for his stunning, dynamic sculptures. You are probably familiar with his St Teresa. Here is his interpretation of the Medusa, her beautiful features drawn with pain as she realises her fate. He seemed to have an understanding of the inner beast.
|Wassily Kandinsky – an |
icon of himself.
And then there’s Sagittarius the professor, the teacher, the lecturer. Probably the most famous art school of the 20th century was the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. It was founded by the architect Walter Gropius in 1919 and closed by the Nazis in 1933. The ideas taught there still influence the way we see the world and are taught about art today.
Two key professors? Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, both serious, daring artists in their own rights as well the inspirers of generations of art students.
At the same time, on the other side of the Atlantic, larger than life Diego Rivera husband of the equally famous Frida Kahlo (Cancer) was making art that would inspire generations of Mexican artists. He was a famous bon viveur, of course, fat, greedy, womanising, full of life – the embodiment of Jupiter himself. Hell to be married to, of course. But in this portrait he looks like a professor.
Another artists’ union, between Picasso (Scorpio) and Francoise Gilot (Sagittarius), caused something of a sensation mid-century. He was old enough to be her grandpa. The relationship overshadowed the strength of Gilot’s work. This self-portrait seems to be all about freedom – another preoccupation of the centaur.
|Francoise Gilot (Nov 26)|