Welcome! See Italy (and more) through the eyes of an artist: American sculptor and painter Kelly Borsheim creates her life and art in Italy and shares her adventures in travel and art with you. Come on along, please and Visit her fine art work online at: www.BorsheimArts.com
Rudolph is one of my favorite Christmas
programs on TV. When I was at
university, I even bought the videotape and sang along loudly [alone, since my
flatmates thought that I was nuts]. The
arrangement and soothing voice of Burl
Ives singing “Silver and Gold”
always made me cry, as I inevitably thought of loves lost and the sweetness of loves
retained over the years. Here it is if
you wanna listen:
Artwise, I am still in the Museo dell’Opera
del Duomo in Florence, Italy. To be
honest, most of the time, I can out-museum most of my friends. However, in this period in which I have not
been very productive in my own art creating, I find my mind wandering no matter
how interesting the museum contents and presentation. This next work of art at first got the “Boh!”
response from me, as I peeked around the corner to gaze upon it. However, the Italian tour guide caught my
attention. He was very expressive and enthusiastic
about this piece, so I meandered over and started to photograph him as his
whole body told stories.
So much of this art is TOO silver and gold . . . it just seems
“over the top” and one sees the shine or glare, if you will, more than the
forms. However, upon closer look, it is
amazing the sheer skill and ideas put into this altar that was created in the
years from 1367 to 1483. It features
twelve scenes from the life of John the Baptist.
Again, I must quote the museum display:
“This room contains an altar front and a
monumental cross of pure silver, restored between 2006 and 2012, with a combined
weight of 250 kilograms in metal parts alone.
Commissioned by the Arte di Calimala – the cloth merchants’ guild – and
realised beginning in 1367 by artists spanning several generations, these
intricate assemblages of thousand of components were at the center of the
principal religious celebration of the Florentine Republic, the feast of the
city’s patron saint, John the Baptist, on June 24, when altar and cross were
installed in the church dedicated to Saint John, the Baptistery.”
On a side note, I am touched that my new community
is already involving me in the life here.
I have been asked to dress the part of a medieval sculptor [they provide
the clothes] for the town’s “Living Nativity” on Christmas Eve. It will feel great to have a hammer in my
hand again, even if I am unlikely to be using it on this occasion. Also, yesterday, I was asked to speak to the
local mayor’s assistant [in Italian he is called the Assessore, which looks like two funny English words put together
for a public servant’s title]. My local
friends seem to think that my new-to-the-community voice, especially as a
sculptor, will help them give some life to a seemingly forgotten decade-old
~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor,
painter, writer, teacher
To the right is a video on the far wall that tells more of the story.
I hope you are not tired of these posts
from my visit to the Museo dell’Opera
del Duomo in Florence, Italy. Today,
I thought I would share with you some more of the stone carvings. I really would like to know more about how so much carving of stone was done before the days of electricity. Some of this stone is not that soft!
example, look at this large tub. I
apologize for not reading the label (or in this case, even photographing it for
review later). I might have understood
what the tub was used for: Is it a
fountain basin for the local water supply?
Was it a marble bathtub? Was it a coffin for a child? That latter does not seem likely since the
bas relief designs on the front do not seem consistent. In any event, notice how much decoration
there is! Lots of architecture houses
the human figures and aids in the feeling of symmetry. Note that the figures are purposely out of
proportion to one another, all for the sake of design and decoration. I love the figure emerging from the slightly
opened door. It adds some action to the
otherwise static composition.
These others just made me smile. The grouping with the Madonna and Child seems
normal, but then, look at the gesture and expression of the figure on the
right. How funny is that? While the others are interested in what’s up,
this guy is looking down on us little people and appears to be aware of us and
And this other, rather dissolved looking couple
struck me as smooching and was unexpected among religious themes (is that not
sad?). Anyway, see what you think.
~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor,
painter, writer, teacher
In the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in
Florence, Italy, I discovered an artist to admire. I had never before heard of Niccolò Barabino(1831–1891), but I think his
painting in the museum is fantastic. I
share it with you here. It is titled, Christ Enthroned with Mary and
Florentine Saints and was created from 1882 to 1883.
The composition is brilliant and I admired
so many things that I see as definitely intentional.The composition is set up as symmetrical, but
then the variations create a situation that hardly leaves one with a feeling of
repetition.Christ at the center, with
the largest area of white or light colors is no doubt the subject of the
painting.The lilies in their vase serve
as an obvious pointer, in case our eyes could forget. The vertical columns on either side of him
lend a strength and stability, and even a calming effect (assurance of a sense
of well-being?) to the painting.
The figures on the left are all aligned
mostly horizontally in their halos, yet there is enough of a change that there
is no stiffness in the postures of the figures or their relationships to one
another, while the diagonally line of the figures are right (and continued by
the raised arm of Christ) serve to point to our subject.
I enjoyed the perspective in the scene, as
well as the 3-dimensionally painted dark niche behind Christ’s figure that
really helps to again, put the focus on him.
I like how he plays the lights and darks against one another to emphasize
(or play down) each of the personalities of the saints while never losing sight
of compositional interest.
might think that red is such a strong color that an artist would be a fool to
paint the only really large red shape off to one side. But if you look, you
will see that he has spread around the staircase and the right background
enough of this same muted red serves as a sculptural base or even a frame (if
you count the darker, cooler reds in the niche behind Christ’s head). The artist has done the same thing with the
whites or light shapes in the composition.
Christ receives the largest and most eye-catching white shape in his
robes. However, the worshiping figures
each contain a figure in “white,” but they do not take up as much real estate
and are beautifully designed to strengthen the composition.
love it that the faces are individuals and beautiful. I also love it that the artist snuck in a
half-dressed man next to the nun. Each
character’s head is different, in hair style or hat or veil… lovely
Anyway, I truly admire this work of art
and I am glad that the next time I walk past the Duomo, I will look more
closely at the painting under the same-shaped arches and hope to see more of Niccolò