Story One

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The Wall Around the Frame

1. Courbet was attracted to redheads.  Lesbian love scenes occupied the artist's imagination, and were reflected in many paintings.  He painted two large versions of the Venus and Psyche image in 1864.  After completing the two versions, Courbet altered one at the request of a collector who asked that a parrot appear on Venus' arm, an addition which obviated a mythological content and prompted a new meaning and a new name, "The Awakening."  The appearance of this detail enhanced the popularity of the work.  The fact that he easily agreed to the request suggests that he found it a quite natural addition.  The erotic subtext of the painting is indeed in complete agreement with this seemingly unexpected addition. Michael Fried argues that Courbet painted himself in the image of the active, dark haired woman bending over the prone red-haired sleeper.  Not satisfied with those two versions of Venus and Psyche, Courbet painted one more, a smaller version also named "The Awakening".  Like his rival, Manet, Courbet had a classical source when he began working on "Venus and Psyche."  He was not depicting a traditional subject but providing a contemporary understanding of the purpose of painting and how painting could reflect the status of women in society at that time.

2. Hitler wanted to be a painter.  He painted crudely; an awkward imitation of the folkish realism he admired in his youth.  Once in power, he began to collect what he could not create. He tried to add to his own stature as a man of culture and power by acquiring art treasures.  By collecting the best his advisors could select from the hundreds of works pillaged first from non-Aryan collectors in Austria and Germany, and then from the collections in the regions he came to control, he tried to recreate a history for Germany that would rival the myth of Greece as the birth place of beauty and culture.  However, he found himself thwarted as a man and an artist, between the official view of art and his own appetite for images beyond the official pale. Some works he selected for his private pleasure.

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