Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hildy by the Dozen

More Hildegard of Bingen. She would have these visions and then dictate them to women artists who would paint them for her. Incredible images. A couple of these are so modern and abstract (see the 5th and 6th pics) yet they were all created in the 12th century. Hildegard evidently had migraines, and some scholars attribute her visions to her headaches. There's a wonderful novel by Mark Salzman titled Lying Awake on this topic that is about a nun who has visions. It turns out that she is having seizures and the story is about her questioning her faith after learning that she has this disorder.


Susan Beauchemin said...

Did she paint any of her own visions? I'll have to read that book again by Mark S. I liked it, but it was awhile ago--time to refresh.

Rob S. said...

One of my mentors, Marvin Mattelson, did a painting of HvB for an album called "Vision: The Music of Hildegard von Bingen". I was apprenticing in his studio when he got that assignment, actually. You can find the album with the artwork on Amazon. The frame around her head is painted as a trompe l'oeil. The weird geometric thing rising from the book is a mathematically-designed shape derived from her musical notations.

I love the first piece posted here, and it kind of makes you wonder if the rays coming out of her head and eyes are the migraines or the visions... or both?!

martha miller said...


I don't think that she did any of the paintings - I believe they were all done by her artistic "sisters."

martha miller said...

Hi Rob:

I'll look for that! Yes, I like that self-portrait, too. I have had occular migraines that are like seeing the aurora borealis! I wonder what I would have made of them if I hadn't known they were migraines? Does science throw a bucket of water on mystery? Or does it open another window?

martha miller said...

or rather:

Does science throw a bucket of water on mystery? Or does it light another spark?