Harry Ricketts

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Les Toits Rouges

Hans Neuermann in the preface
to his provocative study
Die Moderne und ihre Vorgänger

(1974) claims that the dark-blue,
oblong smear above the red roofs’
jumble and glow in that 1912 Vlaminck

hanging in the AGNSW
suggests the shape of a huge bird
of ill omen, wings spread wide,

or even (in the 1980 revised version)
the wings of a plane, presaging
World War 1. This latter theory

became something of an orthodoxy
until recent eco-critics like Stieffel and Bridge
pointed out that the smear more closely

resembles the rudderlike tail
of a blue whale about to submerge
into the white thrashing surf of the sky.

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