Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ponte Vecchio Florence Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

In my last post, I wrote about the longest standing bridge in Florence, Italy, the Ponte Vecchio. This bridge was also built upon the most narrow point of the Arno River during its passage through Florence. I showed you some snapshots that I took during the day.

However, like most living entities, il Ponte Vecchio takes on a new life – and a new look – at night. In this first shot, I wanted to make a transition from my last posting. This is the middle part of the Ponte Vecchio as one of the more subtle sunsets I have witnessed from this bridge passes on and an Italian musician earns his wages sharing his music. You can see the silhouette of the bronze portrait of the Florentine Cellini in quite a prominent place.

It is believed that the bridge was originally built in Roman times, first being documented in the year 996. The lower section is stone, with the upper section utilizing wood and metal. During the day, the shops along the bridge are all opened up to show their wares, but at night … everything gets locked up behind wooden doors that drop down as protective awnings. This second image shows these awnings lowered over the door panels. You may see the long metal hooks that hang from above that are used to secure these tops out of the way while providing protection to customers in the event of rain. By the way, the Vasari Corridor passes along just above this area.

In these next images (including another reflected self-portrait), I wanted to share with you the beauty of the wood and metal doors. They are bathed in the golden light of the street lamps of Florence. Strangely enough, this city is fairly safe at night, even for a lone girl, and yet, one does not need to be out very late before noticing how deserted the city can be. It is quite lovely and one of my favorite attributes of Florence, Italy. Enjoy!

I am celebrating my birthday alone this year, if you do not count the many kind people sending regards electronically, including via Facebook. While I am currently staying out in the curvaceous hills near vineyards and olive groves outside of Florence, I am relishing the lack of convenient transportation close by and using it as an excuse to get back to my normal work schedule. Perhaps I will have more art to show you in the next few weeks.

Thank you so much for your interest in Italy and in my work. ti ringrazio.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Cellini Ponte Vecchio

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

When you visit Firenze, Italia (or Florence, Italy, if you prefer translated proper names), you will no doubt see the famous Ponte Vecchio (“old bridge” or, literally, “bridge old”). She was the only bridge over the River Arno in Florence that was not bombed during World War II.

And she has traditionally housed merchants and much later, the Vasari Corridor – the private passage built for the Medici family and designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1564-5. The corridor above all of the shops allowed the powerful rulers to move from one palace to the other across the river without actually mingling with the common folk. These days, for a not insignificant fee, you may pass through this corridor and see a portrait gallery along the walls with other artworks and feel what it might have been like for the Medici.

On the Ponte Vecchio herself, there is a very well done bronze portrait sculpture of Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571). The son of a musician and instrument maker, Florence-born Cellini was also a musician [a flute player, like myself only much better, I am sure], and goldsmith, sculptor, painter, and soldier. The most famous and seen sculpture by Cellini must surely be his bronze “Perseus with the Head of Medusa” that is featured in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria in Florence. I must say I especially love the backside of this standing figure!

Like another Italian artist Caravaggio, Cellini killed people, also for emotional reasons more than justice or self defense. And no doubt his autobiography would be a racy read.

Built of stone and wood, the Ponte Vecchio has shops built along it, as was once common. First there were butchers, but today, jewelers occupy most of the spaces. The butchers were apparently asked to leave to enhance the prestige of the Vasari Corridor above them. Gold merchants quickly took over.

More tomorrow…

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pastel Pensive in Bologna

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Since I was a small child, I have had a habit of sitting and thinking (or maybe as the joke goes, “Sometimes I sit and think; sometimes I just sit.”). I like to watch people move. I like to watch how their bodies express their true emotions. I enjoy imagining the lives of others I see, but do not know. It intrigues me how people’s lives touch one another, no matter how briefly or seemingly insignificant.

This next pastel painting “Pensive in Bologna” that I created on handmade Wallis-brand paper was inspired by my first trip to Bologna, Italy, back in 2004. I went to Bologna after receiving many recommendations from travelers along my route. They all described Bologna as having “good energy.” It is a university town and the youth and inquiring minds do bring a certain something to the city that felt different than other places in Italy.

And then I saw this lone man, a grown man, gathering his legs in his arms as he sat in a sculpted doorway under a portico, for which Bologna is well-known. I have not forgotten him. And I sometimes catch myself wondering what his name is and what his life is like.

“Pensive in Bologna”
23” x 17”
Pastel painting on Wallis Professional Paper
$1200 + $20 shipping & handling

Happy Birthday, Peggy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sculptor Vincenzo Gemito

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Hello. Back in May I wrote about one of my favorite sculptures in the Bargello Museum in Florence, Italy. He is Il Pescatore (The Fisher Boy) by Vincenzo Gemito

Imagine my delight to be in the museum honoring the birthplace of sculptor Michelangelo in the village of Caprese Michelangelo and finding more work by another sculptor whose work had impressed me! Among the other exhibits in the museum, there was a section on the Napoliteano artists, as collected by Enrico Guidoni.

I am being lazy today (well, actually a bit distracted since I want to get back to my art-making. So here is what the museum write-up said (I photograph these things sometimes to help me not misquote or misremember something):

Gemito and the Neapolitans

Displayed in the adjoining small room is Guidoni’s Collection of artists from the area of Naples [Italy]. Among these, for the number of preserved works, stand out those of Vincenzo Gemito (Naples 1852-1929). The sculptures of Gemito presented here in the museum are in large part made from bronze, some of these being unpublished. This great sculptor is noted for his wonderful small bronzes that often represent the most recurring popular Neapolitan themes: the little fisherman, the rascal, the old man and the woman of the people. His works are characterized with a strongly expressed realism and an extraordinary production capacity typical of the Neapolitan schools of the period.

Two graphic works by Vincenzo Gemito, a Self Portrait (oil on paper) [1908, detail shown here] and an important otherwise unknown sketch Portrait of Charles V, shows Gemito to be an excellent designer with a classical upbringing yet impulsive, nervous and stiff at the same time.

Alongside the works of Gemito are displayed those of other noted Neapolitan artists, such as De Martino, D’Antino, Barbella, Cataldi and De Matteis. The latter named artist, little known in the history of art, aroused the collectors interest in Enrico Guidoni, who dedicated particulare attention to the collection of his works and the study of the artist.

I include here some snapshots of other compositions of fisherboys that appear to be done after 1876 when the Bargello’s Il Pescatore was completed by Gemito. The first sculpture is titled L’Acquaiolo - 1880, while the last two were both given the same title (“Pescatorello”) with no date given.

Enjoy! And DO visit Caprese Michelangelo in the province of Arezzo, Italy.

Happy Birthday, Skye in Australia!