CGP 19: Wild Cards
by Basil King (40 pp. Saddle-Stitched w/ full-color illustrations) $8 ppd.
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In Wild Cards, Basil King gives us art & history from street level.  Monet, Manet, Blake and others are face-cards in his full hand & hands.  King  builds a Japanese Bridge between word and image in this section of his epic Learning to Draw/A History.  Accompanying the text are four full-color plates of King’s own paintings from the “Blackjack” series.  You’ll lose your shirt.

From Wild Cardsby Basil King

John Abbott McNeill Whistler was born in America. His father, a civil engineer and a graduate of West Point, was employed in 1842 by the Czar to build a railroad from St. Petersburg to Moscow. In Russia, Whistler learns French and studies drawing. 
           
In 1848, John’s father, Major George Washington McNeill Whistler, dies of cholera, in Russia.  Whistler’s mother brings the family back to America. Whistler is 15. The next year Whistler enrolls in West Point. He is dismissed and doesn’t graduate. When he decides to be a painter, he goes to Paris, then to London. Whistler’s mother, half-sister, and brother all move to London, and Whistler never returns to North America.
 
Whistler hung his hat and coat on wooden pegs. Possibly the same pegs his great-great-grandfather had used before he left England for the colonies. 

Pause

“It’s always the same work that’s so hard and uncertain,” Whistler wrote Fantin LaTour. “I am so slow,” said the man who signed his paintings with a butterfly. I am so slow, lotus blossom. Amour. To know what to paint, and then to paint it.


Whistler loved Franz Hals
Loved his defiance
Alms give me Nocturne
Symphonies
Give me The White Girl
Her tranquility
Bewitched by Butterflies
Japanese prints Degas  Mallarm√©
Oscar Wilde and Thomas Carlyle
Whistler was not like his friends
Not everything can go into
One painting one poem
Not everything can go into
One painting one poem
Oh! St. Luke, patron saint of painters
Whistler’s literal translations
Can be mistaken
For a mistake
Consider the originator
Whistler is an expatriate a migrant
A whistler challenging beauty
Calculates
Find the question
Before you find the answer
Not everything can go into
One painting one poem
Not everything can go into
One painting one poem
The ancient seamen believed
The ocean was flat
And if you went far enough
You would fall off the edge
So it is with a painting
Its edges are liken to a waterfall