I am working on a chapbook about human-animal transformations in art. This is an excerpt from my observation of Girl with Puppy, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 1770, located in the Alte Pinokothek in Munich. Please check back periodically: I hope to have this illustrated chapbook available for purchase this summer (a lot depends on the loosening of COVID restrictions, when I will be able to visit printers in-person).
The canopy is a pod, like any interesting meadow-flower or vegetable. The canopy tilts graciously at the floor, over a crunch of vitamin-red fabric. A dress, maybe, or a dressing-gown, which of course she is not wearing.
Her hand holds her knee up with her wrist. The dog’s head goes down between its paws. The girl and the dog are engaging one another with the same digits of the face that humans use to engage amongst humans, on account of dogs’ and humans’ having co-evolved.
These pornographic Fragonards are nicer up-close: nearby, you see the Manetish oil-sketch strokes, curved, and a friendly Matisseian outlinelessness. All of this is more loveable than the just-washed, still-wet, ugly big blonde boy child of the Neoclassical, all those pink-skinned, leering fascists, which is what you’d think of glancing at the girl’s slick thighs, her calves, heels and toes.
All those giant-headed blonde boy children of my youth, the ubiquitous somebody’s-little-brother, discontent and stupid, preferred by his mother. The dumb limbless trunk of the fascisti, let roll off some giant palm into the river. In the river it gets made bland by the rocks and the currents and everything, smooth as the blade of a wind turbine. Now it is launched off the water into the town where humans and my body live, to bump and slide over us, murderously.
The dog’s coat is roiled like a sphinx cat’s. The girl’s hip is squeezed between her lifted arm and thigh. Her breast, the folds of her nightgown across her ribs. The pack of her hip shines on her nightgown, pleated with drawing-back. Her hip reflects the mustard canopy.
The French seemed to like this type of fat: to me, it signals slightly slow and immature 13-year-old girls, and maybe this was the appeal. Her hip and thigh are an icing sack as they lift toward her abdomen. Pull and roll, sourced at her center and expressed along her back.