"Et in Arcadia ego" is a Latin phrase that most famously appears as the title of two paintings by the great French artist Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665). Both are pastoral paintings depicting idealized shepherds from classical antiquity, clustering around an austere tomb inscribed with the phrase. The phrase “Et in Arcadia Ego” is normally translated from the Latin as “And I am in Arcadia,” or “I am even in Arcadia.” The “I” represents death, and since Arcadia is the Greek conception of Paradise, it is presumed to mean that death is everywhere, even in Paradise. (An image of the second painting, in the collection of the Louvre, appears below.)
Et in ArcadiaEgo...the Kiss is first of two works by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade exploring the theme. They comment: "Conceptually. the first piece is the idyllic fantasy of the woods and makes reference to Poussin's painting and then Waugh's Brideshead Revisited....The second piece follows that thought but has an image of the two trees cut into a woodpile. The twisted trees stand like Rodin's 'The Kiss," they are Romeo and Juliet. These trees have been grown to be cut, milled, and hammered into 'Home Sweet Home.' The odd misshapen trees will be cut and left to rot and feed a new generation. What was beautiful is not profitable, what was common now builds an architectural gem...but leaves a clear cut. Our longing for bucolic bliss has always been matched with primitive panic."
This piece was part of the traveling exhibition "The Kiss," which toured museums internationally from 1998–2000, and, as Fraas and Slade note wryly, "it ended up for awhile on the web site of the Museum of the Cayman Islands."
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More quilts by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade
Et In Arcadia Ego ( Les Bergers d'Arcadie) by Nicolas Poussin, 1638