Glenn Gould, 2008
oil on canvas by Cornelia Foss
I'm indebted to a list member of f_minor for bringing this painting to my attention.
In 2007, Cornelia Foss, wife of composer and conductor Lukas Foss, publicly revealed in an article in the Toronto Star (August 25, 2007) that she and Gould had had a love affair lasting several years. She and her husband had met Gould in Los Angeles in 1956.
Cornelia was an art instructor who had studied sculpture at the American Academy in Rome; Lukas was a pianist and composer who conducted both the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Brooklyn Philharmonic.
After several years, Glenn and Cornelia became lovers. Cornelia left Lukas in 1967 for Gould, taking her two children with her to Toronto, where she purchased a house near Gould's apartment at 110 St. Clair Avenue West.
According to Cornelia, "There were a lot of misconceptions about Glenn and it was partly because he was so very private. But I assure you, he was an extremely heterosexual man. Our relationship was, among other things, quite sexual."
Their affair lasted until 1972, when she returned to Lukas. As early as two weeks after leaving her husband, she had noticed disturbing signs in Gould. She describes a serious paranoid episode: "It lasted several hours and then I knew he was not just neurotic — there was more to it.
I thought to myself, `Good grief, am I going to bring up my children in this environment?' But I stayed four and a half years." Foss did not discuss details, but others close to Gould said he was convinced someone was trying to poison him and that others were spying on him.
Her representatives have taken technical pains to prevent Hristo in Kafe Internet Sofia from seeing this or Klaas in Rotterdam (or Bob in Massachusetts), or rather from spreading it around to too much riff-raff. I'm not sure if I'm among the targeted riff-raff or not.
I don't know exactly how to feel about this. This is a beautiful and deeply moving visual image, and having been created, should its distribution to all who would love and appreciate it be filtered and blocked and made difficult?
Or would you like $12.50 a pop to see it, like a Pay-Per-View Wrestling Match? I could make a reasonable deal to see this in Hi-Def or Blu-Ray.
I imagine the Real Deal would fetch at first sale about U$250,000, even in these sucky times. A painting like this, with such skill and such intimate meaning and insight -- not entirely unlike a Vulcan Mind Meld -- does not hit the galleries every Munishdig and Dunishdig (sp?).
Gould died in 1982, so Cornelia Foss painted this 26 years after his death, and 36 years after they stopped being lovers. (En famille, Gould would tutor Foss's young son and daughter in algebra.) This is how I remember my lover 36 years later.
The only thing better than this is living it, which two intense, passionate, brilliant people, one with a couple of kids, did as well as they could for 5 years.
La vie des Bohemes, or however I'm supposed to spell that. The creative life. Life With Fewer Rules. Life By My Rules, to the fullest extent that I can get away with it. Quid obstat? (Cornelia and children returned to her husband Lukas.)
[Danke to Mensch-on-the-Ground CH for correcting momentary brain malfunction.]
Once in my truck I was driving with Lefty Nanna, who was lengthily complaining about the Bad Things and Poor Choices various close members of her family had been doing and making lately.
"But C**** -- I do ALL those things. ALL the time. You know that."
Her brow furrowed and she went deeply, though briefly, into thought.
"You're a creative person," she said. "The rules are different for you."
I've tried on more than a few occasions to pull that card out of my wallet and present it to various members of the Suspicious, Naive and Unwilling. Sometimes it flies, sometimes it crashes, all passengers killed.
Does this qualify as an Art Review, or a bona-fide contribution to the literature about this painting? I personally have expressed loud and often that it should be a federal felony -- 5 years mandatory minimum -- to use words to describe music or to use words to attempt to describe visual art. What is the point? All that the image has to give, and all that the music has to sing, is in the Thing Itself. Likewise spectacularly beautiful mathematical equations. Who benefits, and how, from my Feelings about Maxwell's Equations?
But this is just an exquisite human moment. With an excellent chance of surviving, in near-perfect condition, for 500 years, perhaps (a la the Bayeux Tapestry) 1000 years. As long as the world still has small, quiet rooms with precise temperature, humidity and light control systems, Glenn Gould, 2008 will be well protected from time, and time's promise to corrupt all but gold.
If you don't like it, if it fails to jolt you, there are 62 museum curators all over the planet who would cut off a finger to have it in their collection. This is not unlike the paintings I've posted of Francesca and Paulo, and of the Tree of Forgiveness -- an inseperable and radiating superglue of romantic and sexual passion and love. Desire. Lust and love, the physical and spiritual entwined, neither caring which got top billing.
"Closer, closer, come closer!" the gorgeous vamp moans to Groucho in a passionate embrace.
"If I come any closer, I'll be in back of you," Groucho complains.
Foss recalled there was an enormous flow of humor and laughter from Gould, and Foss must have been a fine reflector of that herself. Nick and Nora Charles, with easel, piano and two kids, Toronto Sequel, 1967-72.