Thursday, May 6, 2010

Murals: Helping the Aristocracy get lucky for Centuries.

Chimpanzees have been known to use a leaf to attract a mate. A dried leaf to be exact, because it makes a nice crunchy sound when you crinkle it. The male will sit with his legs spread, and crunch leaves until someone takes notice, puts two and two together and decides that yes, he's the guy they want to get with.

Bowerbirds will dress up their homes with everything from mushrooms to poop in an attempt to seduce a partner.

Insects, next in line for World domination, give their abodes the Royal treatment in the work of Artists like Jennifer Angus and Jan Fabre, who re-decorated Belgium’s 19th century royal palace. It took four months and 29 assistants to glue 1.6 million iridescent green beetle carapaces to the ceiling of the Hall of Mirrors.

It seems that using tools as a sexual strategy is not limited to humans, but we seem to use a variety unseen in any other species. A woman (or man) in a pretty red dress, a flashy car blasting music at 120 decibels, or the walls of our homes decorated with books (why else do we keep books we'll never re-read?) or fancy artwork.

The effectiveness of each depends only upon which market you're in.

European nobility used decoration in their own seductive way. High-walled residences were often placed at the front of the property, with the large gardens at the rear, visible only to the chosen few (as opposed to American homes that tend to sit in the center of their land, without walls, and display their treasures conspicuously as you enter the home - a less subtle, but obviously effective strategy). The public spaces of stately European homes were often the least ornamented. As you were lured further into the private sanctuary, you'd find the rooms increasingly lavish until you finally arrived at the perfumed jewel box of the boudoir.

This method backfired a bit on the Hapsburgs, who practically inbred themselves into extinction. Inbreeding might actually explain some of their more bizarre priceless booty, but that's a story best explained by Darwin.

UglyHousePhotos gives us this marvel. I don't even want to know if this worked as an aid to procreation.

It's amazing how straight the line is between Homo Habilus tying a feather on his loincloth (what am I, an anthropologist?) to me painting a Chinoiserie mural for a wealthy client.

So here's to Decorative Art! Glad to be of service.


  1. I confess I love to drive at night, when everyone has their lights on, and sneak peaks into their rooms to see what kinds of art & decor they live with. I guess I'm a bit of a voyeur like that. It's amazing how bland some of them are. Not a little bit sad sometimes.

    Those of us born with an impulse to beautify have received a natural gift that is not shared by everyone. A little goes a long way. Spread it around I say. It's not only the rich that deserve a sprinkling of fairy dust.

  2. I do too! There is this huge Georgian home in Dublin that we used to drive by. They had a library visible from the street with shelves of books that went over the door. I was so jealous! I wanted to be like Will Ferrel in Anchorman bragging that his home "smells like rich mahogany".