Roundup: di Cosimo's Big Week
Post #1740 • March 3, 2015, 1:24 PM • 1 Comment
I’m a fan of Peter Paul Rubens. As an aspiring art historian, I studied with Julius S. Held, the renowned expert on the Flemish master. Prof. Held turned all his students into enthusiasts who shared his admiration for Rubens’s ravishing paint handling; his virtuoso evocations of gleaming flesh and opulent textures, sensuous women and fierce animals; and his complex intellectual conceptions. No wonder he was the most sought-after painter of his day (born in 1577, he died in 1640), with an international clientele of royalty and nobility. I was eager to see Karen Wilkin on Rubens and his legacy
Rubens and His Legacy: Van Dyck to Cézanne, at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, the first major exhibition in the U.K. to examine the persistent influence of this dazzling artist.
Edouard Manet’s Mary Tompkins Lewis on Manet
The Railway, a magisterial canvas of 1873 that announces the painter’s mature career, thrusts us into the heart of the new Paris that had been envisioned at midcentury by Napoleon III and realized by his prefect, Baron Haussmann.
Damien Hirst has set back art by 100 years, according to the daughter of Henry Moore, the man who arguably changed British sculpture more than any other artist. Mark Brown speaks with Mary Moore
If, despite his manifest excellence, Piero di Cosimo never achieved the same prominence as his rough contemporaries Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael, perhaps one reason is that everyone found him to be a bit odd. Evidence of his eccentricity is not only to be found in his paintings, but also in what we have had passed down to us regarding his habits. Aaron MacLean on Piero di Cosimo
Say Karen Wilkin on Piero di Cosimo
Piero di Cosimo (1462-1522) and we envision agile, muscular figures, both human and fantastic, enacting arcane mythological scenes, usually involving animals. There’s that wonderful painting in the National Gallery, London, of a dying nymph, mourned by an attentive satyr and the most sympathetic hound in art history. Giorgio Vasari, writing almost 20 years after the artist’s death, in
Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, counted Piero among Tuscany’s
men of genius and praised him both for his imagination and for painting
extremely well from life. But Vasari also characterized him as a self-absorbed crank who atypically worked alone, without the usual assistants and apprentices, subsisting on hard-boiled eggs. (Never mind that Vasari also mentions the celebrated Florentine painter Andrea del Sarto as one of Piero’s
very numerous disciples.) That oddball image, along with those obscure mythological subjects, more or less define this relatively unfamiliar Renaissance master for most American art lovers.
It is one of the ironies of impressionism, the quintessential French movement, that it had its beginning and its end not in Paris but in London. It is another irony that the key figure in the movement was not a painter but, that most maligned of species, a dealer. In 1871, having fled the Franco-Prussian war, Claude Monet was living in London. It was in January that year that the landscapist Charles-François Daubigny took him along to the inaptly named German Gallery on New Bond Street and introduced him to the proprietor, another French expat, named Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922). Whether or not the gallerist believed Daubigny’s words of introduction – Michael Prodger on Pual Durand-Ruel
This artist will surpass us all – he liked Monet’s work well enough to buy numerous canvases and, a few days later, paintings by his fellow artist-refugee Camille Pissarro, too.
The sculpture’s nickname, David van Biema on Donatello
Lo Zuccone or Pumpkinhead, may suggest a slasher-movie villain or a punk band. But the most striking work in a new show at New York’s Museum of Biblical Art is really something rarer: a Donatello.
In 1885, Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Mary M. Lane on Sargent
Treasure Island and
Kidnapped, wrote to a friend about the portrait of himself that John Singer Sargent had recently painted. The author dubbed the picture, which included Stevenson’s wife dressed as an Indian princess, as
too eccentric to be exhibited and
dam [sic] queer as a whole.
To me, this is one of the monuments of Western culture. We have Aristotle as a philosopher with a central moral problem of human experience. Walter Liedtke (RIP) on Rembrandt
It matters a lot to me that I’m seen in the context of what everyone else is doing, especially because I’m doing these conservative-looking portraits. I hate the idea of being shunted aside in a group of representational painters. I’m in the early stages of organizing an exhibition of portraiture that will focus on a contemporary painting, but will make no special reference to the edginess that often accompanies exhibitions of this type. Jeanne Wilkinson interviews Peter Malone
For over half a century, passionate pilgrims have been drawn to a four-story Belle Epoque building in Paris’s elegant sixth arrondissement. Some still come to see the final home of Albert Camus, the Algerian-born absurdist who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957. But today, the most fervent among them come to pay homage to Etel Adnan, an artist and writer whose vitality and curiosity belie her 90 years. Like some Delphic cardigan-wearing yogi, Adnan sits in a poufy red chair with her feet barely grazing the floor below and gives her full attention to her interlocutors. Of mixed Greek and Syrian heritage, she speaks at least five languages, in a stream of ambiguous Mediterranean cadences. Conversation tends to hover around her holy trinity of love, war and poetry—the primary subjects of her nearly dozen books. The arc of Adnan’s own life, punctuated by the fall of an empire, affairs of the heart and mind, tectonic political shifts, exiles and returns, is the stuff of Russian novels. Negar Azimi on Etel Adnan
Are we allowed, in 2015, to like Thomas Hart Benton? And if so, are we allowed to admit in public that we like him? James Gardner on Benton
While Michelangelo, Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci were all making worlds of ideal perfection, their contemporary, Piero di Cosimo, had set out on a different, more twisted path, bewitching his fellow Florentines with his visual fables and mythological fantasies. The work that made the greatest impression was the The Economist on Piero di Cosimo
Cart of Death, an elaborate float pulled by black buffaloes, with skeletons popping out of their tombs whenever the grim procession stopped to chant a dirge. If he never quite achieved the grace of Botticelli’s
La Primavera, Piero’s ability to conjure the macabre, the monstrous and the miraculous offers its own distinctive pleasures and a rare insight into the more neurotic recesses of the Renaissance imagination.