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"Nothing we have ever done before will ever be good enough again."


IMAGE GALLERY

Jean-Baptiste Greuze
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 3/20/2021

Lena Dunham on "Madame Baptiste aîné" in 'The Sleeve Should Be Illegal'

Jean-Baptiste Greuze's "Madame Baptiste aîné" (c. 1790) is reproduced from The Sleeve Should Be Illegal: & Other Reflections on Art at the Frick, published to accompany the opening of Frick Madison and containing 61 texts on works in the collection by leading voices in contemporary culture. Of this work, Lena Dunham writes, "'Madame Baptiste aîné' is drawn in 'pastel on cream paper,' a combination that makes it nearly impossible to remember that she has a face. In the Frick’s Handbook of Paintings, the commentary for Greuze’s portrait of the little-known wife of a celebrated male actress (they’re all actresses, darling) tells us that after a promising start on the stage, Madame Baptiste received roles of less and less import. You see, 'She had a terrible fault, which consisted of not allowing to be heard a single verse that she delivered.'⁠ … Ten years ago, I went to San Francisco, breaking the $500 limit on my first credit card so I could kiss on the trolley and eat ravioli in bed and snort Adderall off of Nan Goldin books. The boy I was visiting took a Polaroid of me in bed (oatmeal dress, oatmeal skin, greasy hair), and he watched as it developed, saying, 'Look, she’s a Renaissance maid!' I believed him, there in my nightgown. And I believed our love, and my body, would always be this strong and this good and that nobody forgets about strong and good things. I wasn’t right and I wasn’t wrong, but I also imagined people would keep their word and reality wouldn’t be a fight. I would look, every morning, like I had when I was freshly in love and caught on Polaroid. We all know how that goes. Especially Greuze. Especially Madame Baptiste.⁠ If I were being drawn in pastels by Greuze, I probably wouldn’t have the heart to interrupt and demand that my features be divisible from each other and my dress just a little less sheer, you know, to reflect the reality of being a working mother. I wouldn’t even say, 'Hey, I’m not that sad, Greuze—lighten up that smile!' I’d just purse my lips and nod my head, and that night, when my husband dragged me onstage… just to prove we were still the dream in action, well I, too, would whisper."⁠

The Sleeve Should Be Illegal

The Sleeve Should Be Illegal

DELMONICO BOOKS/THE FRICK COLLECTION
Hbk, 7.25 x 9.5 in. / 168 pgs / 122 color.



DATE 1/20/2021

Today, we celebrate!


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