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The Path to Paradise: Judith

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Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife

32 x 48 in. (81.3 x 121.9 cm)

Judith Schaechter

Object Type: Glass
Medium and Support: Stained-glass panel
Credit Line: Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 2005.6
Accession Number: EX2020.DG1.1
Link to this object
Location: Currently away on loan

When Schaechter made this work, she said she may have been thinking about “Botticelli's Venus and cycloramas and octopus erotica and how lovely turquoise looks next to fire engine red,” but in retrospect, she may also have been writing her own ending for Lars Von Trier’s tragic 1996 film, Breaking the Waves. The diversity of sources is typical of Schaechter’s creative output:

-Botticelli’s iconic Birth of Venus—a painting Schaechter admires for its “weirdness”—was the only reproduction she had ever hung in her studio.

-Cycloramas were a nineteenth-century American phenomenon in which long, continuous paintings covered the interior walls of circular buildings, providing an immersive experience for visitors. The left and right edges of Schaechter’s panel form a continuous image. If the piece were rolled like a tube, the waves would match, and the two sea creatures would form one octopus.

-“Octopus erotica” is a reference to a print by Hokusai called The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife. In the Japanese woodblock tradition of shunga, featuring erotic imagery, Hokusai’s print depicts a sexual encounter between a woman and an octopus.

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