This post is a sequel to a previous effort that featured two Zebra-Kensington REH covers, with art by Jeffrey Jones (as usual, click the image below to view a larger version):
“After a few years in NYC a friend of mine, a great artist, much older than me, the late Roy G. Krenkel, told me that I was the Master of the Meaningless Gesture. Well, I do this in my art because I don’t want to tell anyone anything. Also in my words, like my poem. I want the people to bring themselves to the work, based on their own experience.”
— Jeffrey Jones, autobiography
11 thoughts on “Look Here: Four variations on a “meaningless gesture,” by Jeffrey Jones”
One day not too long ago I saw the fantasy illustrator Rowena flipping through a book of Jones’ paintings and drawings and she asked me, “Why do you think he liked to draw women with saggy breasts?” (like the one in the image above)
I replied, “I guess it’s one way of expressing his Kierkegaardian melancholy, an existential angst that informs so much of his work, because of the inevitability of death and the entropy that precedes it.” (with tongue firmly in cheek, of course)
Why do you think Rowena doesn’t like to draw women with saggy breasts?
Women’s breasts inevitably change over time. No woman I know of has kept the figure she had at twenty (if she had a figure at twenty). The natural aging process, the constant downward pressure of “gravity,” pregnancy and breastfeeding, menopause, weight loss, weight gain, vigorous physical activity, etc., all take a toll. And if a woman has largish breasts to begin with, well… she may start out high and mighty but even more quickly than her smaller-chested sisters, she will discover that pride goeth before a fall!
Fact is, I’ve done plenty of life drawing in my time, and I’ve never seen a model who looks like the glossy skinned, perfectly toned, firm breasted women that populate Rowena’s illustrations. But hey, maybe that’s because I don’t live in a fantasy world but in the real one where perfect physical specimens of humanity, male or female, come around about as often as Halley’s Comet.
I have, however, drawn many art models with figures similar to those of the women Jones draws and paints, along with plenty of others of various shapes and sizes whose physical attributes were, for the most part, no closer to perfection than those of the less than perfect specimens of humanity like me who sat and drew them!
Why does Rowena want Jones to be like her and leave real women’s bodies out of the picture? What would our world gain if artists followed Rowena’s example and never painted another saggy breast? What would it lose?
What causes sagging of breasts?
— “Sagging or drooping of breasts is a natural, inevitable process that happens to all women at some point – except to those with fairly small breasts.”
— “Short of breast lift surgery, there is unfortunately not much you can do about it. Even surgery results are not permanent since the skin and ligaments will stretch again eventually.”
Just having a bit of fun, RC! Don’t take it so seriously.
The reality and proximity of death is a constant factor in much of Jones’ work, be it in a wilting flower, a setting sun, a waning moon, or (dare I say it) a sagging breast. For me, Jones’ art is like the artistic equivalent of the Austrian poetry of Georg Trakl or the English folk music of guitarist Nick Drake (whom I know that George Pratt and Scott Hampton – also Jones admirers – are dedicated fans of).
Lastly, moving on to another body part(!), the arms on Jones’ female in the first painting (the back cover image) are far too long for the rest of her body; he corrected that mistake in subsequent paintings and drawings.
My reply wasn’t directed at you, Chris. It was directed at Rowena, whose glossy, idealized illustration art I outgrew a long time ago and whose superficial criticism of Jones’s art and apparent disdain for the bodies of real women irritated me.
In one breath…
“Don’t take it so seriously.”
… and in the next…
“The reality and proximity of death is a constant factor in much of Jones’ work, be it in a wilting flower, a setting sun, a waning moon, or (dare I say it) a sagging breast. For me, Jones’ art is like the artistic equivalent of the Austrian poetry of Georg Trakl or the English folk music of guitarist Nick Drake (whom I know that George Pratt and Scott Hampton – also Jones admirers – are dedicated fans of).”
LOL! You seem to be “taking it seriously” now, too, but I honestly don’t see how what you’ve just said to me is substantially different from your supposedly tongue-in-cheek “Kierkegaardian” reply to Rowena.
Is your tongue still in your cheek or not, Chris? I can’t tell.
I suppose in some circles that’s called a sly wit.
In truth I do take Jones’ art quite seriously, as much of it is very moving, but my own responses here are laced with humour for pure enjoyment’s sake (hopefully for everyone).
“I suppose in some circles that’s called a sly wit.”
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a married man in possession of a sly wit, must be in want of a comfy couch (because he’s going to spend a lot of nights sleeping there).
I always saw Jones work (precisely his figures’ gestures) as inspired by the melodrama of theatre and dance whereas more “butch” artist guys would draw the figures of their paintings with less emotional depth like what you normally get in comic book art (perhaps Frazetta?). Jones clearly sees that emotion in the less macho paintings of Klimt and Mucha where there is a “dance” between figures. Jones’ painting’s strength lied in his ability to show vulnerability; the antithesis of most of Frazetta’s paintings and his persona.
P.S. What would Rowena say about Corben’s work. Personally I like to see gravity in real life and in paintings.
In Idyl and I’m Age and many of the personal paintings, Jones seemed (to me) to be interested in nothing more than women — especially naked women — moving through the world in ordinary ways: walking, sitting, standing, kneeling, etc.
I can only imagine he was a very unique and interesting person.