Archive for November, 2007


Before the Mirror
John Updike (1996)

How many of us still remember 
when Picasso’s “Girl Before a Mirror” hung 
at the turning of the stairs in the pre- 
expansion Museum of Modern Art? 
Millions of us, probably, but we form 
a dwindling population. Garish 
and brush-slashed and yet as balanced 
as a cardboard Queen in a deck of giant cards, 
the painting proclaimed, “Enter here 
and abandon preconception.” She bounced 
the erotic balls of herself back and forth 
between reflection and reality. 

Now I discover, in the recent re- 
trospective at the establishment,
that the vivid painting dates 
from March of 1932, 
the very month which I first saw light, 
squinting nostalgia for the womb. 
I bend closer, inspecting. The blacks, 
the stripy cyanide greens are still uncracked, 
I note with satisfaction; the cherry reds 
and lemon yellows full of childish juice. 
No sag, no wrinkle. Fresh as paint. Back then 
they knew how, I reflect, to lay it on. 

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Arial is not Helvetica;




New Haven, Temple St. Garage, Nov. 1 2007, 6:55 PM.

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