For love of art.Submitted by admin on Tue, 02/14/2012 - 19:55
Chapter 16: Italy 1400-1500.
Overall I was actually surprised by the apparent decline in realism in the paintings selected by the book! They seem to have an almost graphic design stylized element to them... something that seems backwards from the realism that the previous chapter focused on. In an odd contrast the sculptures seem much more lifelike and realistic with rich detail and graceful poses. Initially I though that Donatello's work was actually inferior to the other examples as it lacked detail and the elaborate poses of some of the other sculptors... However the more I looked at his work the more I realized I preferred it and it took me a while to figure out why. I think its the LACK of detail, the smooth softness that makes his work more human and almost seem to be in motion... If a sculpture could blur, his would. Also the lack of overly theatrical poses in Donatello's work make them seem more human, more natural as well.
An exception to the previous statement about paintings would be the Perugino work Keys to the Kingdom. It contains wonderfully sophisticated (albeit 1-point) perspective that adds an almost scientific precision to the painting yet its filled with fluid and energetic figures. Their expressions are earnest and don't have a hint of awkwardness that many great artists struggle to overcome when trying to depict expressions.
Chapter 17: Italy 1500-1600.
Leonardo has long been an inspiration to me and I could immediately tell his work although I've never seen some of these pieces. Frankly the man had a supernatural grasp of light and form. There is so much truth in the way he recreates life that defies my ability to emulate or explain how he does it. I think its his ability to do light as well as dark fearlessly coupled with a superior grasp of anatomy, emotion, and be seems to be well rounded to the point that there is nothing that spoils my enjoyment of his work. 17-1 and 17-2 perfectly illustrate these characteristics. I would love to see these in person. On a side point to 17-3 (Leonardo's Last Supper) the "cleaning" of artwork is RIDICULOUS. The nuance in every single expression has been compromised. Even in the tiny reproduction in the book this is painfully obvious. They should be ashamed of themselves for their lack of respect for the original work. I was born in Europe yet I don't understand the western view that things don't change, that we must stop change and cheapen and taint wondrous art and architecture for our own selfish needs. The Colosseum in Rome is another example. The fact that everything is temporary should drive us to do and see things while they last not turn them into permanent caricatures of what made them great to begin with! I would rather have a real rose for one day that will wilt and die than carry a plastic rose with me for 100 years.