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Calligraphy with Box and Glasses

1982 Richard de Menocal Born: Boston, Massachusetts 1919 Died: Cambridge, Massachusetts 1995 oil on canvas 17 x 28 1/8 in. (43.2 x 71.4 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation 1985.30.14 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 45A


Luce Center Label

Richard de Menocal’s Calligraphy with Box and Glasses is an elegant, quietly poetic painting. The artist copied the Arabic script after a famous work by the mid-sixteenth-century Turkish calligrapher Ahmed Karahisari. It reads, “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” This is the first line of every chapter in the Koran, the holy text of Islam, and many Muslims recite this prayer at the start of any new endeavor. Arabic is written and read from right to left, and Menocal placed the full glass at the opening of the prayer and the empty glass to the left, toward the end. The circular box elevates one glass above the other, creating a gentle curve that imitates the graceful sweep of the calligraphy. Menocal spent several years in meditation communities, and his painting suggests a process of emptying the mind in order to receive spiritual enlightenment.

Keywords

Still life - other - container

Still life - other - dish

Still life - written matter

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Richard de Menocal

Born: Boston, Massachusetts 1919 Died: Cambridge, Massachusetts 1995

More works in the collection by
Richard de Menocal