#168: L'Etoile de Mer
He had been reading books about the sea: Melville's Moby Dick and Whitejacket and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Iris Murdoch's The Sea, the Sea--which he now regarded as one of the greatest novels ever written. And a lot of Joseph Conrad as well. Buoyed up by this new nautical obsession, he felt he wanted to make a sea picture. In this he was heavily influenced by the films of Man Ray he'd been watching recently--in particular an exquisitely nebulous, poetically charged work called L'Etoile de Mer from 1928. For his own piece--which was to be a clear homage to Man Ray--he painted a sea-creature, rather starfish-like, but more sinister. He made it on a large sheet of glass, using only blacks whites, greys and silver. When it was finished, the thing seemed disturbingly primordial, some cold, unknowable creature from the depths of the ocean, as well as a sounding from his own unconscious. It frightened him a bit, and he found himself growing pale and delicately imprecise in the face of the creature's imperious exactitude.

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