Tuesday, June 11, 2013


The painting above is called The Treaty of Penn with the Indians. Click to enlarge and have a proper look at it. It's wonderful. It depicts the coming together of early Anglo settlers with indigenous types in North America. The painting was done by the artist Benjamin West, who claimed he was taught how to paint with pigments by natives. Ben's is a wonderful origin story. It's like the origin story of a comic superhero. Ben was an American art superhero in a way. I love his surname too. You can't get much better than West can you? It's tremendously Occidental. Ben West, The Man Who Painted America. Sounds like a comic doesn't it? So much history does really. It's all just an exciting story.

The painting is almost like the cover of a comic too. The United States #2 - $1. Have you noticed the way the focus is on the linen or whatever it is that the genuflecting trader is offering the injuns? It's central to the composition. The light falls upon the offering. This is the first act of trade, the thing that civilised and defined North America. The way the roll of material is portrayed puts me in mind of the infant Christ in Ruebens' Adoration of the Shepherds. Have a gander at the detail below and see if you agree.
Christ means 'saviour'. The first superhero, Christ, saved us all just as trade saved North America. That's the story of Ben's comic cover, I mean the painting. The linen is trade in its infancy just like Christ is an infant in the Adoration. It's a good story. We like our stories don't we?

People are still telling this story today, evangelising about it, going from door to door, or at least from plush resort to plush resort, in various parts of the world. Have you heard the story? It's like the story involving the twelve apostles but it's a newer story involving the G8. It's a good story. A satisfying myth. It could be the story in the comic with Ben's painting on the cover featuring the baby Jesus like linen. The only difference between the baby Jesus and the linen being that the baby Jesus wasn't purposefully riddled with a genocidal dose of fuckin smallpox. LOL!

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