Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rossetti on a Jet Plane

My husband Tom actually found this link and shared it with me. Too awesome.

Classical art inspirations for airline safety manuals, including Rossetti.

The best airline-safety-card artists know how to amplify these details without creating too much noise. They are, after all, artists. They work within and bend the conventions of their form by playing with allusions to earlier work. Take, for example, a current US Airways safety card that portrays the conventional water flotation scene. We see a beautiful woman, with lush red hair, floating effortlessly, gazing ahead in an attitude of easeful melancholy. The airline artist has recruited Dante Rossetti’s 1877 Mary Magdalene, with perhaps an ironic nod to Botticelli’s Venus, as the heroine of our worst-case scenario. Thus the “fallen woman” motif is reimagined in the most urgent terms: this airline Magdalene is a woman who has quite literally fallen. And this is where we find her, floating in limbo, clutching a lily-white life preserver to her breast (instead of a vase, as in the 1877 portrait). Like Rossetti’s romantic Pre-Raphaelite Magdalene, this woman’s lowly state serves only to magnify her elemental beauty. Here she is, Our Lady of the Plane Crash. “I will make you fishers of men,” says the Christ. “We will rescue you in any corner of the globe,” says a Pan Am safety card. The fallen woman will not remain cast away forever—and, if we follow her lead, the artist assures us, neither will we. It is a pretty vision of earthly salvation.


Hermes said...

Clever of your husband Grace.

Dinah said...

How about this version of Pandora? Am I imagining things or does it also bear a passing resemblance to the safety card?

great post title, btw!

Grace said...

Hermes, he didn't write it, but it was clever of him to find it :D

Dinah, I agree! I definitely see a resemblance to Pandora. Thanks!

emily.mcintyre said...

Wow. Definitely more than I could have inferred from looking at the illustration! Thanks for sharing.


Sheila said...

Too funny. Good thing they didn't go with the Ophelia theme for that one!

Grace said...

Oh no, Sheila! Too true. HA!

Emily, I definitely wouldn't have made that connection either. I'm still not sure I "buy" it, but I find it interesting anyway!