Friday, October 28, 2011

Arty Farty Friday ~ Two Artists, Two Eras, Two Nations - One focus

Spotlight, this week, on two artists from eras and nations far apart in time and location, but connected by their attempt, using their creativity and talents, to illustrate wrongs of their time, or to offer support to those would would try to improve matters.

Walter Crane from Britain 1845 - 1915
Norm Magnusson from the USA 1960 -

Walter Crane produced some of his most powerful work as stimulus to the emerging Labour movement in Britain. His gorgeous illustrative art (samples at Google Image) showed just one facet of Crane's talent. Art and politics blended in his life from the 1880s until he died. He was an activist in the fullest sense of the word. He put his considerable talents to work in support of the vision outlined by leftwing agitators such as William Morris, who happens to be another hero of mine; and H. M. Hyndman.
More at Working Class Movement library: HERE

"Bernard Shaw neatly summarised the man and his achievement in his own paradoxical way, in his tribute to Crane: '[He] was stamped as a harmless, kindly, beneficial, delightful artist. All his efforts to impress himself on the British mind as a revolutionary socialist at war with society were as vain as the attempts of his friends to make the public aware that he was a born master of design. Only when his figures were the materials and incidents of a decorative design did they become great.... He never knew his limitations because he could do as well as most people outside them and therefore he was never stopped by an incompetence which was only relative to his consummate mastery of ornamental design'. That points to the essential Crane. A revolutionary socialist - 'Crane had a demon of energy. Few other artists except Morris worked so incessantly, and this apparently without strain or ill health. This energy enabled him to translate his socialist sympathies into the works which he gave so freely to the cause'."

3 Examples:

Born 15 August 1845 in Liverpool, UK (12 noon chart shown as no time of birth available)

Briefly: The stellium (cluster of planets) in Aquarius (politically aware), with traditional Saturn adding emphasis, Neptune (creativity) and Mars (energy) opposite his Leo Sun is a good part of the story of his political activism.

There's also this Yod (Finger of Fate) configuration (2 planets in helpful sextile linked by two 150* aspects to the same planet at apex): here Uranus and Saturn, traditional and modern rulers of Aquarius are linked to Venus at apex of the Yod. astrologically this would be translated as the traits of the avant garde and the status quo are blended through art. That does fit, Crane uses very traditional images in his work to illustrate rather avant garde (for his time) concepts.

From our own time and, as it happens, living through another cycle of 99% against 1%, as was Walter Crane, is New York-based artist and political activist Norm Magnusson. In the photograph he's shown with some of his paintings at Spike Gallery.

In the early 1990s his paintings depicted animals, with allegorical significance as social commentary. Some of those can be seen via Google Image. Later he delved deeper into politics and the potential of political art to enlighten and persuade. His later work includes short video presentations, viral e-mails and, I think best of all, a series of roadside markers. These markers, The I-75 Project, are his current focus. One marker is placed (or will be) in each of the 50 rest areas up and down the length of Interstate 75 ( Michigan through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia to Hialeah, Florida.)
The I-75 Project
by Norm Magnusson.
For the past few years, I've been creating what I call "art of social conscience:" tv spots, viral emails, paintings and posters, but none of it has engaged viewers as much as this series of "historical" markers, each one a small story containing a discrete point of view.

The types of people who stop to read them are collectively defined more by their curiosity about the world around them than they are by any shared ideological leanings, which makes them a perfect audience for a carefully crafted message. And unlike most artworks on social or political themes, these markers don’t merely speak to the small group of viewers that seek out such work in galleries and museums; instead, they gently insert themselves into the public realm.
"Are they real?" is a question viewers frequently ask, meaning "are they state-sponsored?" I love this confusion and hope to slip a message in while people are mulling it over.

These markers are just the kind of public art I really enjoy: gently assertive and non-confrontational, firmly thought-provoking and pretty to look at and just a little bit subversive.
More on the I-75 Project can be found here and
on YouTube

3 examples of his markers:

Exact detail of Norm Magnusson's birthplace is elusive. He originally came from (was born in?) Ohio, so I've used a speculative city, Columbus, Ohio in order to calculate a chart for 20 March 1960, his date of birth. This, set for 12 noon will give places of personal planets (apart from Moon) correctly.

Here, again, we have Mars in Aquarius, as in Walter Crane's chart - I see that as a clear marker for political activism of one kind or another.

Magnusson's Sun is at 00 Aries, known to astrologers as "The Aries Point" - thought to be a particularly strong degree of the sign. Aries is, in any case, known for intitative, strong, enthusiastic and impulsive traits.

Again, there's a Yod. This time linking Mercury and Saturn by sextile, with Uranus at the apex. Translated as communication and traditional features blending, to be used as a focus on newer, more rebellious attitudes....that fits.

Interesting, too that in both Walter Crane's chart and in Norm Magnusson's, a Yod has both Uranus and Saturn linked, one way or another, to either the closely personal planets Mercury or Venus (communication or art).

UPDATE (22 July 2012)

Norm Magnusson himself has very kindly given more accurate birth data via a comment (below). Here are two charts set for his actual birth place and for the two different possible times of birth he has given.

6:00AM and 6:00PM - - the difference is quite important here because at 6:00 AM Sun was still in the last degree of Pisces, but by 6:00 PM it had moved into the first degree of Aries.

Other key differences: The morning birth time if exact at 6:00 AM gives rising sign as 00 Aries (which is the same as the Sun's degree if birth time were 6:00 PM.)
If born at 6:00 PM rising sign would be the opposte of above = 00 Libra.

Only Mr Magnusson can decide which is more fitting, but if he has felt at all in tune with the Pisces horoscopes he's read, then the morning birth time seems most likely to be the accurate one, putting Sun in last degree of Pisces right on or close to the ascendant (a very strong position). Sun remained in late Pisces until around 9:00 AM too.

If born at 6:00 PM Mercury and Venus would still be in Pisces, which could account for any affinity to the sign; and Libra would have been rising - Libra is ruled by Venus planet of the arts.

Either way both Aries and Pisces are strongly featured. Moon would have been in Capricorn whichever birth time is correct, and this gives yet another thread of characteristics - including common sense, reliability, business sense, among others.
The Yod mentioned in my original posting remains intact either way, too, as do most other planetary positions.


Wisewebwoman said...

Most interesting, particularly the astro linkage to activism. Love the signs.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~ I love those signs too!
Such a simple but very effective idea.

Norm Magnusson said...

Wow! What a find. Thanks for the attention. I was actually born in Waukegan, Illinois. One parent recalled at 6pm, the other recalled 6am. The hospital destroyed the records. All my life, I read the Pisces horoscope first and once in a while the Aries one, too.



Twilight said...

Norm Magnusson ~~ Oh my! I'm so happy to receive this, and to know you are not annoyed about appearing on my blog. :-) Thanks for commenting.

Thank you for the extra detail of your birth data - tomorrow I shall do an update to this post with charts set for your birth place and for both possible birth times.
I don't think the basic stuff I've said above will be greatly changed but possible Moon positions and rising sign will become clearer.

Please check back after tomorrow when you can. :-) And thanks again.