Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cathedral Bergamo Italy

Dear Art-loving friend,
My last post for a while on the city of Bergamo, Italy:  This is mostly about the Cathedral there.  I must admit that I had to do a search on Google:  What’s the difference between a Cathedral and a Basilica?”  [See my previous post for images of the Basilica in Bergamo.]    

A “basilica” is a word of Roman origin and describes a large public building used for business.  Later, the Christians (Catholics) adopted the word for their own use as a title for a specific kind of church.  Hmmm… interesting connection!  In any event, today the Catholics use this word as a title signifying rank.  There are different levels of basilicas, apparently, but the highest rank is that of Cathedral (“Duomo” in Italian). 

The designation “cathedral” tells you that the bishop of the local order has a throne inside of that church or basilica. The origin of that word is French and Latin and refers to the “seat” or “chair.”  It is the home church for the bishop of that region.  The terms 'basilica" and "cathedral" need not overlap, but they often do.  However, there is only one Duomo in each city, that I have ever come across at least.  [I am certainly no expert on many things Christian or Catholic, including how the boundaries of diocese are drawn.]

In any event, both a basilica and a cathedral / duomo are worth a visit if you are a lover of art.  The Cathedral of Bergamo offers a few things I have never or rarely seen in a church.  Enjoy these images, with a few captions where I thought the image could benefit.  I start here with the outside view of the Cathedral.  I enjoy the composition of dark bronze with light stone.

There was a calming simplicity to the compositions in the Duomo that I found eased my senses, as compared to the nearby Basilica.

I do not recall having seen a marble carving of a decapitation WITHIN a Duomo before.  I assume this is Judith.  Her image is a favorite with Italians, a strong woman (innocence and physical weakness) overcomes a mightier and evil strength... the female version of David, if you like.  Hers was an act that was certainly more personally courageous (to cut off a head up close vs. kill from a distance with a stone).  Both are horrible, but it is a brutal world, isn't it?

So many colorful marbles!  Dizzyingly spectacular mosaic work, even in 3-D!

It is not often that one sees a bed in a cathedral.  This unusual aerial perspective on a very large painting employs a dramatic diagonal (implying action) and good placement of the bright blues to surround the subject.  The angel in subdued light and the raised arm of the holy figure near the center are just two of the compositional pointers to the center of one's attention.  And interesting "Z" of light... I enjoy this compositional idea.

The foreground is the open section above a staircase on either side of the main altar (in the background).  The stairs lead to a burial place below the altar (see later image).  I saw this type of architectural arrangement in the strange (Mayan?) type design of the ancient Duomo in Castelvecchio, Italy, beside where I carved stone in a symposium during the summer of 2013.

"Watch out for the stairs, for there is a danger of falling."  I am not sure why I find these icons so adorable.

I found this room under the altar to be a bit freaky.  But then, each day while I paint, I have been listening to audiobooks of the vampire series by Anne Rice.  This room would be a great scene for a book and I wondered if vampires would feel protected, sleeping here by day in the house of the faithful.

Since this is the Cathedral, that must be the throne of the Bishop.  I liked the addition of a contemporary design of the chairs beautifully added to the splendor of times past.

I took this snapshot since it reminds me of my niece Alexis, who has been flashing the two fingers of peace since birth.

This image of the pink stone lions is actually around the entrance to the Basilica, very nearby the Cathedrale.  However, I had so many images in my last post, I was afraid to add more.

And finally another external view of the complex that includes the Basilica (the Cathedral is on my right, facing away from me here).  It is so easy to be transported through time with architecture such as this. 

If you are interested in learning more about the origins and history of the words to describe the architecture and uses of the words “basilica” and “cathedral,” these links would be a fun place to start:

Thank you for reading.  I hope you enjoy these efforts of my musings and my images.
Yours in art,
Kelly Borsheim

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore Bergamo Italy

Dear Art-loving friend,
Soon, I will be showing you some new work, but in the meantime, I hope that you will enjoy some of the spectacular art that is a bit overwhelming and mind-blowing.  To think what humans can accomplish!  

These images of art and designs are taken in and near the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo, Italy.  I look for composition lessons in places like these.  You will see some paintings here that have a marvelous pattern design of light vs. dark.  Also, it helps me to understand my own aesthetic better even to see what I do not like… namely compositions that are just information overload.. too busy.  

I think this may be the first place in Italy, besides the famous Uffizi Galleries in Firenze, in which I noticed the large art tapestries hung on the walls.  No doubt they served the functional purpose of insulation.  People love high ceilings and stone buildings, but that combination can be brutally cold in the winter.

Enjoy!  And please let me know if there are too many images in this or any other post. 
Thank you for reading,
Kelly Borsheim

Not an elegant pose, but certainly this creates a challenge for a bas relief, compressed sculptural form!

The floor alone is enough to make me swoon in a seemingly religious fervor.

No, that is not a big screen at the top of the pulpit stair!  It is just the reflection on a painting.  One problem I have with art in churches and sometimes even museums is that it is very difficult to see the art!  However, perhaps this is a problem with the medium of oil painting.  Fresco rarely has a problem such as this (only for inlaid-gold crowns and such).

Two tapestries, smaller than the one shown below.

This is a wonderful composition.  Despite the many figures in this very large work, the subjects are in light and the background action in dark, forming an overall simpler design that eases the eye while directing it.

I really enjoy the dark figures here set against a light background.  I find the flying baby at the top a bit weird, but mostly because the shapes of his wings strike me as odd and remind me of something else, although at this writing it escapes me what.
This is a funny composition for what looks to be a variation on "The Last Supper."  With the diagonal movement and the figures looking in various direxions, the main point of amusement for me is that the man's bum faces the viewer in no subtle way.  The interaction of the white dog and cat only serve as pointers to this pose of the man.
wood patterns

One of the many GRAND tapestries in this Basilica in Bergamo

"Indulgenza" says this sign that hangs above the entrance into the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Bergamo, Italy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bergamo Italy

Dear Art-loving friend,
Here are some more images of my short visit to Bergamo, Italia, recently.  I do not really vacation well, I suppose mostly because I take a long time to make a work of art and feel always behind and never seem to have enough time to realize all of the things I envision.

So, I give you a reminder that the art installation of the colored turf in the main piazza finishes at the end of this month.  That includes the life-size pink cutouts of various locals who garden or create in some way.  I thought that the cutouts and the write-ups on them of each person depicted were an eye-catching way to make the colorful installation more personal.

I try to notice the beauty and interest in all sorts of things and my eyes dart in all directions.  The world is full of stimuli, after all!  And thus, I hope you enjoy the images taken through a keyhole.  Hahha… I was told once in my early days in Firenze that in Italy, “An open door is an invitation.   I am not sure that I believe that….to misquote Freud, “Sometimes an open door is just … an open door.”  Also, I am fascinated by stairs.  Go figure.

But there is some truth to the observations that most of the beautiful gardens in Italy are within the corridors of the buildings.  Back in Medieval times when many Italian cities were built, people lived in fear of attacks and thus, the walls are thick and strong; fortresses really.  And people brought the Natural world inside of their walls.  I never tire of the giant ceramic pots with trees, or in this case, grasses. 
Enjoy some more of Bergamo in northern Italy.