Friday, December 18, 2015

Silver and Gold Florence Italy

Dear Art Lover,
     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.

Silver and Gold Florence Italy Altar Saint John the Baptist

Silver and Gold Florence Italy Altar Saint John the Baptist

Silver and Gold Florence Italy Altar Saint John the Baptist

Silver and Gold Florence Italy Altar Saint John the Baptist

    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 project.
     
Peace,

Kelly

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

Silver and Gold Florence Italy Altar Saint John the Baptist
Silver and Gold Florence Italy Altar Saint John the Baptist


Silver and Gold Florence Italy Altar Saint John the Baptist

Silver and Gold Florence Italy Altar Saint John the Baptist

Silver and Gold Florence Italy Altar Saint John the Baptist
To the right is a video on the far wall that tells more of the story.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Stone Sculpture Museo dell’Opera Florence Italy

Dear Art Lover,

     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!


      For 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 waving hello.
Marble Sculpture Florence, Italy, Museo dell Opera del Duomo religious art

Marble Sculpture Florence, Italy, Museo dell Opera del Duomo religious art


  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.

Marble Sculpture Florence, Italy, Museo dell Opera del Duomo religious art

Peace,

Kelly

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher




Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Niccolò Barabino Painter Florence Italy

Niccolò Barabino Painter Florence Italy
 Dear Art Lover,

     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.

Niccolò Barabino Painter Florence Italy

Niccolò Barabino Painter Florence Italy

     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. 

Niccolò Barabino Painter Florence Italy

Niccolò Barabino Painter Florence Italy

     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.

     One 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.
Niccolò Barabino Painter Florence Italy

     I 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 variety! 

     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 Barabino’s paintings. 

     If you would like to learn more of this artist, this may be a decent start: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicol%C3%B2_Barabino

Peace,

Kelly

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher






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