Madonna of the Spirits (2002)
From "Madonna" by Jane Miller and seen in Ploughshares:
As pop star, Madonna functions as an archetype directly inside contemporary culture. It goes without saying that her huge success taps an obsession with Christian mythology. She exists in the form of a Black Madonna, not unlike, for example, the polychrome wood statue in Sierra de Montserrat, in Spain, said to date from the twelfth century. According to legend, the figure was found by shepherds in a cave. On this mountain west of Barcelona, the Black Madonna is visited by thousands of pilgrims yearly as the patron saint of Catalonia -- a major tourist industry. "Our" pop Madonna -- the surety with which she gives herself away! -- has revitalized, with élan, with control, with pleasure, powerful iconography (one of the most powerful curses one can snap at another, in Spanish, is still "tu madre"; the same is true in Black America). The plastic joy Madonna takes in her illustration of the myth surfaces near the southern French coast, in Vence, in the Chapelle du Rosaire, decorated by Henri Matisse at age seventy-seven as a gift to the Dominican nuns of Monteils who had nursed him through an illness. There, lemon-yellow and sapphire-blue forms float in a large stained-glass window behind a simple altar. A forty-foot crescent-adorned cross rises from the blue-tiled roof. On the side wall, simple black figures painted on white tile. The Madonna holds an infant whose arms are outstretched to simulate a cross. Matisse says,
"What I have done is to create a religious space. . . in anenclosed area of very reduced proportions, and to give it solely by the play of colors and lines, the dimensions of infinity."
This sounds, to me, like one definition of poetry. Like Madonna, any serious artist is responsible to the archetypes and icons of the species.
Madonna Leaves Her Clothes On
so slowly came to see
a lovely voice.
And, now, it seems I've posted about her.
Uh-oh. On the path to obsessive fanboy toyishness?