Final Days of Christmas….

We’ve been marking the days of Christmas by looking at some of my favourite  art.  I limited the discussion by stipulating that it must be art I personally experienced in 2016.  (Click here for the first post in this series.)

I am taking creative license with the ‘works of art’ category, and devoting this post to the general category of mosaic tile floors found in countless buildings in Italy.

I am crazy for the floors. The colours, the patterns and the textures are gorgeous. I am sometimes mesmerized. Thank goodness for digital technology, as I have countless photographs of mosaic work..  (Never fear:  I will severely curate.)  Mosaic floors are beautiful.

Roman floors, photo by T. Vatrt

Roman floors, photo by T. Vatrt

Perhaps, more importantly, they also work on a symbolic level for me.  The floors represent things I value:  good design; the appreciation of craftsmanship; the willingness to spend exorbitant amounts of time creating something beautiful; the recognition that our built environment should be beautiful, and not only utilitarian.

Roman floors, photo by T. Vatrt

Roman floors, photo by T. Vatrt

Venetian mosaic, photo by T. Vatrt

Venetian mosaic, photo by T. Vatrt

Roman floors, photo by T. Vatrt

Roman floors, photo by T. Vatrt

Roman floors, photo by T. Vatrt

Roman floors, photo by T. Vatrt

Roman floors, photo by T. Vatrt

Roman floors, photo by T. Vatrt

Granted, most of these images are from churches, or grand residences.  Below is a photo from the ‘back stairs’ in a Venetian convent.  The floors are not nearly as extravagant, but the design is simple, and pleasing.  Consideration for daily life is evident.

Venetian mosaic, photo by T. Vatrt

Venetian mosaic, photo by T. Vatrt

May we all experience more beauty in our daily lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Days of Christmas continued…..

Today we are leaping from the Renaissance, in Italy, to installation art in southern California as we continue to celebrate the days of Christmas.

One of my favourite Robert Irwin pieces is 1°2°3°4°. ( I’ve written about Irwin here and here.)

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1°2°3°4° is a semi-permanent installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.  It’s an excellent example of a site specific work of art, which looks deceptively simple:  three squares of glass removed from the windows.

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

Listen to what Irwin says about his work:  And here it’s like I am saying, you know the kind of attention you have been taught to lavish on a Renaissance landscape within its as-if window frame, try lavishing that sort of attention on the world itself.  In fact, get rid of the windowJust experience the world!

….now you’ve taken the frame and sort of bent it, which just brings that even into more focus, it turns out that before it was slightly out of focus, but now, bang, it snaps into focus, becoming completely pictorial while in fact being the opposite of pictorial, which is to say experiential, because on top of everything else now you get the sounds drifting in from outside, and the soft breeze blowing, the whole thing becoming truly four dimensional.  (from page 270-271, seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees by Lawrence Weschler.)

Experience the world!  They are inspiring words for the new year.

 

 

Venetian treasure

We are halfway through the Days of Christmas.  Today’s art favourite is in strong contrast to the sculptures from the last posting;  this alterpiece painting by Tiziano Vicellio (Titian) makes me smile.

Madonna di Ca' Pesaro, Titian

Madonna di Ca’ Pesaro, Titian

At first glance, it seems like another ‘madonna and child’ painting, one of countless in the churches of Venice.  This composition, however, has distinctive differences.  Mary and Jesus are not situated in the centre of the painting, as was conventional for that time (1519-1526.)  The background columns in the middle of the composition were, stylistically, innovative.  Titian was breaking new ground with this painting.

Let’s look more closely at the bottom right hand corner of the painting.Gazing directly out at us, the viewers, is a young boy.  It is a fairly typical response of a child in a solemn situation.  All the other adults in the image are involved in the admiration of the mother and child, or in establishing Jacopo Pesaro’s  (the patron) prestige.  This boy is, instead, connecting directly with the larger audience of worshippers, spanning centuries.

Madonna di Ca' Pesaro, Titian (detail)

Madonna di Ca’ Pesaro, Titian (detail)

 

 

 

More treats for the Days of Christmas

For our next ‘art treats’ ( see previous post) for the days of Christmas, we travel to Venice.  Ahhhh….Venice.

Two of my favourite pieces of art are found in the Basilica dei Frari which houses treasure upon treasure.  It is a huge space, filled with beautiful work:  sculpture, paintings, wood carvings, soaring ceilings, stained glass and tiled floors.

Basilica dei Frari, Venice

Basilica dei Frari, Venice

The four lower statues of the monument to Doge Giovanni Pesaro are extremely striking.  They are some of my favourite pieces of classical sculpture. For the purposes of this Days of Christmas project, kindly view them as one selection.

Monument to Doge Giovanni Pesaro 1669, Basilica dei Frari, Venice

Monument to Doge Giovanni Pesaro 1669, Basilica dei Frari, Venice, photo by T. Vatrt

The work for the monument is attributed to the Dresden trained sculptor, Melchior Barthel.  I admire the use of the black and white marble together.  The contrast is very effective. Notice the drapery, as well.  Isn’t it gorgeous?

Monument to Doge Giovanni Pesaro 1669, Basilica dei Frari, Venice, photo by T. Vatrt

Monument to Doge Giovanni Pesaro 1669, Basilica dei Frari, Venice, photo by T. Vatrt

Perhaps most striking, though, is the subject matter.  The four sculptures are situated  as supporting columns for the effigy of the resurrected doge.  The men’s bodies convey strength and power, but their faces, clothing and positions express the horror and injustice of slavery.  No doubt that wasn’t the original intention, (click here  for a brief discussion of the work) but, in my mind, this is an exposure of inhumanity. There is a dignity conveyed through the beauty and size of their bodies, despite the subservient positions.  These figures are the most arresting component of the whole monument.

Monument to Doge Giovanni Pesaro 1669, Basilica dei Frari, Venice

Monument to Doge Giovanni Pesaro 1669, Basilica dei Frari, Venice

Quite unplanned, I realize I am writing this on the Feast of the Holy Innocents.  Seems somewhat appropriate to the work.

 

Treats for the Days of Christmas

The Art Caravan has decided to mark these days of Christmas by talking about some of our favourite works of art.  This will not be an exhaustive, extensive or scientific survey –no surprise there!–but we will, however, limit our options somewhat by only writing about work that complies with the following criteria:

* art we have personally experienced in 2016.

One of my favourite paintings in the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s permanent collection is Abstract:  Gold and Green by Lionel LeMoine Fitzgerald.

Abstract: Gold and Green, 1954, L. L. Fitzgerald

Abstract: Gold and Green, 1954, L. L. Fitzgerald

Here are a few close-up photos of the work.  In some parts of the image, pencil lines are evident.  As well, there are examples of underlying texture, and the obvious evidence of brushstrokes throughout the painting

The Art Caravan has previously written about Fitzgerald because I am a huge fan of his work.  Click here to read more about him, and see some of his other works. The Winnipeg Art Gallery currently has Abstract:  Gold and Green on display.

 

 

 

How to be Both

There’s art–lots of art–in Ali Smith’s 2014 novel How to be Both.  The novel, itself, is a work of art:  it’s ambiguous, clever, funny, sad, truthful, and challenging.

Here are a few quotes from How to be Both to, possibly, entice you to read it:

     I think of all the sketches and dessins and paintings on panels and linens and crack-covered wall, all the colours and the willows and the hares and the goats and the sheep and the hoofs, all the eggs cracked open:  ash, bones, dust, gone, and hundreds and hundreds, no, thousands.
     Cause that’s all the life of a painter is, the seen and gone disappearing into the air, rain, seasons, years, the ravenous beaks of ravens.  All we are is eyes looking for the unbroken  or the edges where the broken bits might fit each other.

 

    But imagine if you made something and then you always had to be seen through what you’d made, as if the thing you’d made became you.

 

   Galleries are not much like life.  They are such clean places, generally.

 

   (Egg on poplar.  Like something made in a chic restaurant.  What would it taste like?  Think of all the paintings made with all the eggs laid all the hundreds of years ago and the blips of life that were the lives of the warmblooded chickens who laid them.)

Honor Clerk’s review in The Spectator is titled “Warm, funny, subtle, intelligent–and baffling.”  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

Francesco del Cossa, about 1435/6 - about 1477/8 Saint Vincent Ferrer probably about 1473-5 Egg on poplar, 153.7 x 59.7 cm Bought, 1858 NG597 http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG597

Francesco del Cossa, about 1435/6 – about 1477/8
Saint Vincent Ferrer
probably about 1473-5
Egg on poplar, 153.7 x 59.7 cm
Bought, 1858
NG597
http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG597