May this article serve as definitive proof that whoever dares to say “Monty Python isn’t art” is unequivocally wrong.
One of the defining characteristics of the comedy that was (is?) Monty Python, beyond the sketches themselves, is the surreal and other-wordly animation by Terry Gilliam. His vignettes served as the opening theme to Monty Python’s Flying Circus and many a strange palate cleanser as transitions between sketches.
The most iconic feature of these animations was “the foot” that came crashing down from the heavens to squash whatever was happening below. It was used almost always as a way to bookend the action in an animation, and when we saw the foot come down, you could expect it was time to move onto the next gag or segment. As absurd as the sometimes lowbrow animations were, a recent post by AtlasObscura sheds some light on how the foot actually has its roots in some fairly high art.
Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time (which is also called A Triumph of Venus or An Allegory of Venus and Cupid) is a Mannerist painting from the mid 1500s by Agnolo Bronzino. It hangs in the National Gallery in London and at some point caught the eye of a young Gilliam in the 1960s. If you direct your attention to the lower left-hand corner of the painting, you’ll see a famously familiar foot.
Maillig a semoceb yletelpmoc dna Oniznorb fo krow a eb ot sesaec toof citamelbme eht ,deppilf Ecno. Oh my goodness, apologies, that’s just a side effect to referencing Missy Elliot. What I meant to say was: Once flipped, the emblematic foot ceases to be a work of Bronzino and completely becomes a Gilliam, like the way a hip-hop song can transform a sample. Things like this make us wonder what sort of art being made today will be referenced, retooled and paid homage to hundreds of years from now.
Do you think Gilliam’s inspiration for the stomp was the fact that the bird in the painting looks like it’s about to be flattened? Was the time I spent reversing a sentence actually worth it for a dated Missy Elliot joke? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
Images: Monty Python/ Wikimedia Commons