Monday, November 09, 2020

18 GOOD FROGS

I like John Cuneo's witty, wicked drawing of Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 12.



Was that alligator ever really sincere about the music, or was he merely using it for nefarious purposes? And what in the world motivated the other three members of the quartet to create art with a predator? For that matter, is the creation of beauty ever compatible with ugly motives?

These are all important questions, but today the question that preoccupies me is: what's the deal with those 18 frogs littering the floor of the recording studio?

Picasso said, "Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.” If that's true,  Cuneo must've felt each of those frogs was necessary.   They are tiny (only 1/4 inch) and yet each one is distinctive and beautifully drawn.  Each required powers of observation. 
 






We see differences in personality...







...and differences in color:



















The frog next to Cuneo's signature even contributes a little music:












These frogs required serious effort.  I have enlarged them here for you, so that you can give them the attention they deserve.

Now about those birds...





9 comments:

chris bennett said...

Lovely and fun and subtle post David.

Maybe the frogs and birds are there to evoke the sound. I remember watching some arty piece of nonsense by Jean-Luc Godard, I can't remember the film, but there was a shot of a string quartet, their bows poised to strike the first note of a piece, and just as they descend upon the instruments there is a jump cut to sea gulls crying above a beach. I think this is possibly what Cuneo is doing here.

Looking at these delightful frogs also puts me in mind of Ernest Shepard's illustrations to Wind in the Willows, not just Shepard's wonderfully expressive renditions of Toad himself, but the way his tender plastic lines froths up the white paper into living presences.

MORAN said...

Awesome. I like the birds even more than the frogs.

kev ferrara said...

The Alligator may be able to think about lunch because the second violin lays out for 2 of the first 3 minutes of the piece, including the first minute and a half straight from the start. And in general, the second violin seems to have it a lot easier technically than the other three during the piece.

Croaking frogs make sounds similar to bass cello notes. Birds, in the higher range, can be symbolizing the higher range of the violins.

Unknown said...

Good choice and glad to read you again.

Anonymous said...

I didn't even notice those frogs. Cuneo is fucking brilliant.

JSL

Richard said...

A very well constructed blogpost, even more impressive than the drawing

jeanne said...

The birds seem to be song thrushes (not many birds have a dotted breast).

chris bennett said...

They've probably migrated from Thomas Dewing's picture, 'The Song Thrush' in which not a single bird can be seen... or heard.

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