Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sansepolcro Italy Marble Tomb

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Continuing my post about the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Evangelista [11-14th century] in Sansepolcro, Italy, here is a look at more of the art inside.

The funeral monument and marble tomb of Abbot Simone Graziani (begun in the 16th century) is carved from marble and is situated on the wall next to a large painting. Not generally a fan of sculptures of horizontal bodies at rest, I nonetheless found the details in the frame surrounding the figure to be quite creative and beautiful. Specifically, I enjoy the combination of bas relief (“flat” sculpture, such as what you see on coins) and high relief sculpture (more in the round but still on a wall).

I also enjoy the combination of animals, human faces, and foliage and other organic elements. I chuckle at the intelligent and somewhat whimsical shape that appears at first glance to be a mathematical symbol or letter in an ancient alphabet only to discover that it is in fact a depiction of the hind legs of an animal. This work is highly decorative and beautiful in its symmetry.

To the right of the altar is a more complicated composition than the main altar itself shows off. With the rows of candles in front, this composition struck me as very well balanced. The painting in the center has a lot of negative space that not only gives the eye a place to rest a bit, but the upward glance of the figure and surrounding circle of faces all lead the eye up to the top. There is an incredible marble carving here of multiple figures ascending up through a domed window.

Seriously, how on Earth did these people LIFT such heavy and lovely pieces to such heights and without damage? These were the days before electricity and all the technology that came from after that time. Incredible what people have accomplished.

I also apologize for my inability to get the light meter to read what I wanted with this zoom lens. Still the art is inspiring, as intended in the church. All of the geometry is perfectly designed to lead your eyes to heaven. Wonderful!

Now, because I am a yin and yang kind of person, I must show something that is not so beautiful, although I wonder if it is a strange sign of love. This next and last image is of a painting that is in disrepair. I find destruction fascinating, perhaps the same way that small critters are confused into inactivity by the hunter for easier catching or a the lure of vampire’s hypnotic stare.

The light brown vertical lines you see are cracked areas in which the paint has fallen off… they connect up with the larger brown areas at the bottom. I suspect that the cracks have more to do with places in which either the canvas or the wood has been joined or folded or warped. (I forgot to look at this closely enough to get the details of this painting. Oops!)
But I just wonder if the bottom edge is gone for the same reason that many sculptures have details worn off or sport a bright bronze patina on some toes: people reach up to touch a beloved artwork and over many years, the oils from their fingers and the actual touching or rubbing of thousands of hands destroys the work. It is like polishing the worry stone in your pocket, if you will. This was what I meant when I said an act of love earlier. As an artist, I feel complimented that people loved my work enough to touch it out of affection or adoration.

As a side note, it is interesting how the color has faded on the shadow side of the leg in green… and ONLY in the green. Ah, so much to learn!

Today I have earned 48 years old. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I know that I am in the right place and moving in a good direxion. On another, I worry about lost time and late starts (regarding my art mostly). Still, one foot in front of the other and if not now, when? The year just keeps on zipping past. I am on my way to Serbia tomorrow to accompany a friend. It may be a while before I post again. Happy summer to you and thank you for reading my little posts.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sansepolcro Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I recently attended a wedding party in eastern Tuscany. I was actually the photographer for the groom, who is more serious about photography than I am. But, hey, a guy cannot always take his own photos, especially when he wants to enjoy the more important moments in his life! Thankfully, his camera has more juice and capability than mine does.

The photo shoot was scheduled for later in the afternoon when we got into a Bentley and rode south into Umbria for the photo shoot. Our driver Giorgio said in Italian, “No limits” when asked how fast this car would go … that just sounds cool, does it not? In the meantime, however, I decided to explore a bit of the town of Sansepolcro.

I wanted to share with you today images I took (with my own camera) of the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Evangelista [11-14th century]. It is a fairly modest cathedral, built on a slight incline, which one only really notices when viewing the outside steps.

The main altar is much more simply organized than most that I have seen in Italia, but I rather enjoyed all the empty white space above the main art piece at the back of the altar, as well as the echoing arched windows.

The paintings on the wall were pretty typical but some I thought were quite good compositionally speaking, and even technically. I am beginning to appreciate more and more how much thought goes into a multi-figure composition. Still, this church seemed to have more paintings about the actual crucifixion of Christ (I mean large main paintings) on the side walls than I have noticed before. I would have guessed that St. John the Evangelist would have been the primarily subject or perhaps more prominent in the artworks. All paintings here were well done.

Looking back towards the door one can see the lovely play of light and shadows as the afternoon sun peers into the cathedral through the round window and square doors. I hope that you can see it in this detail shot I took of just the window, but it appears to be made from large slices of an agate, with rich brown striations or patterns in the stone. Lovely, really.

More tomorrow . . .