Academic journal article Leviathan

Afterword. (Artists' Forum)

Academic journal article Leviathan

Afterword. (Artists' Forum)

Article excerpt

Just as Ishmael knew that he could never complete his task of classifying whales, he also knew that no painting of a whale could ever represent its full size or complexity His inconclusive conclusions apply equally well, of course, both to critical interpretations of Moby-Dick and to visual representations of Melville's novel. Publishing Unpainted to the Last: Moby-Dick and Twentieth-Century American Art in 1995 and taking a hint from Ishmael, I suspected then that Moby-Dick would remain "unpainted." Little could I have imagined, however, the astonishing proliferation and diversity of artworks inspired by Moby-Dick since 1995. Testimony to that proliferation and diversity within the last six years are the works of the four artists--Aileen Callahan, Thanasis Christodoulou, Robert Del Tredici, and Abby Schlachter--who participated in the Hofstra conference's Artists' Forum. Although Del Tredici's images appeared in my 1995 book, since then he has not only added to his earlier repertoire, but has also enlarged previous images and revised them in gorgeous colors.

The differences among these artists--in media, style, scale--are stunning. Callahan's multi-sectioned, abstract oil painting, White Whale: Moby Dick I, towers over viewers, drawing us into contemplation of the great leviathan and the sea in which he swims, while Christodoulou renders the monumental in meticulous and intimate miniature. …

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