A couple weeks ago when everyone was talking about the “crease” in Jamie/Christian’s pants in the scene where he takes his shirt off, I was busy, or at least distracted by the painting behind Christian. It’s kinda of creepy looking and my first thought was that it was of Leila, the crazy stalker version of Leila. Little did I know, the paintings probably wasn’t as random as it appeared. It’s a painting by Munch, a Madonna… I guess we didn’t get the 16 Madonna’s, but we got a bit of a homage to them.
Not being one to quit at just noticing a piece of art, I of course discussed it with some friends and then ended up in a conversation with my lovely art loving and understanding friend, Aviva. However, she’s connected with a different piece of art, one at the entrance of Christian’s apartment. It will connect Christian and Ana in Fifty Shades of Grey to Fifty Shades Darker and then bring us back to the 16 Madonna paintings.
Here is what she had to say:
My favorite piece of art in Christian’s apartment in Fifty Shades Darker
Yes, there is a Madonna painting in Christian’s apartment. It’s a Munch and thus not quite as traditional as the 16 Madonnas that according to the book, adorn the room in front of the elevator. It isn’t located there either, but rather in his bedroom.
My favorite piece of art; however, is one of the paintings that occupy the space next to the elevator doors instead. It is by Rebecca Chaperone called Presence II.
From the first moment that I caught sight of it in the movie, I was reminded of the Sol Niger depictions in alchemy. In particular, this one from the Splendor Solis (Harley 3469):
The first phase is Nigredo, or Blackness. It’s a phase for putrefaction and decomposition. All ingredients need to be cleansed at this stage before we can move on to the Albedo, or Whiteness.
Phase two, Albedo or Whiteness is where it has been cleansed and is split into its opposites to be later in Rubedo, phase 3, to be coagulated to form a unity of opposites. In psychology, Nigredo is also called the dark night of the soul.
You might remember my discussion of the imagery of Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights in Fifty Shades of Grey, and how Christian appears to us like the tiny god figure in the greyish-green landscape on the outside, but sees himself caught in the Hell panel. Phrased in words capturing another set of imagery – he is sailing through the dark night of the soul.
Ana sets off the process of cleansing. He changes and thinks that this is going quite well. But then comes the moment of truth, the test of whether progress has been made. He is stressed because of what we later learn is Leila’s attempted suicide. He finds solace in Ana – that scene with the peacock tail feathers in the Red Room.
In alchemy they call the transition phase between Nigredo and Albedo, Peacock’s Tail. This is the stage where the alchemist is said to see all the colors rise from the blackness that he is cocooned in. It’s a make or break point because when the work was true, the colors will combine to turn to white (like white light is really a combination of all colors of the spectrum). If the alchemist’s work goes wrong, the colors will collapse back into black (like when you mix paint of all colors it will be end up as black).
Christian’s work on himself, the progress Christian and Ana thought they had made in their relationship… it is all still a misconception at this point. The Sol Niger, the dark sun was still shining for them. This is where we start in the second movie. Thus, the picture is just perfect at the entrance to Christian’s world at that moment. That’s why I so strongly connected with it.
As a little cherry on top of this whipped cream: In mythology scholars regard the Black Sun as the ancient female origin of all, it is both – womb and tomb. And here we are full circle and back to the Madonna imagery.
Crissy and Aviva