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24 March 2012

There’s Classic Painting

and then there’s classical painting

I’m mostly thrilled there is such a burgeoning interest in classic techniques of realist painting, and while I’ve written elsewhere that classical realism is an oxymoron, the recovery of traditional skills of representation is largely a good thing. However, much of what is being promoted and taught in the realist painting world seems more like rendering than painting per se. Where is the painterly technique, the evidence of brushstroke that distinguishes oil paint from other media (dare I say the camera)? I’m posting here some details of relatively recent studio paintings that show brushstroke as an aspect of both form and surface articulation; at Plein Air Italy I’ve put up some similar details from on site work. And while he holds some blame for presiding over a diminishment of the Grand Manner, Diderot has this to say about how painting was judged in his time:

"The value of creating resemblance is passing; it is that of the brush which causes us first to marvel, and then makes the work eternal."
—Denis Diderot, "Salon de 1763"
(Le merite de ressembler est passager; c'est celui du pinceau qui emerveille dans le moment et qui eternise l'ouvrage.)

Apollo & Daphne, detail

Diogenes, detail

S. Slivestro, detail

Time, Truth, and Painting, detail

18 March 2012


Renaissance, Inside and Out 

Gli strumenti delle meraviglie
TODAY, AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO'S ELEGANTLY AUSTERE ROCKEFELLER CHAPEL, the groups The King's Noyse and Piffaro joined forces under the auspices of the city's premier early music ensemble The Newberry Consort to perform music from the Renaissance court of Ferrara. What a wonderfully transporting experience it was, and I was only somewhat saddened to see it not as well attended as one might hope. My experience in Italy of Early Music events is that they are popular, in every sense, and the crowd is often quite young (and funky). Not so today. But, no matter, the performers were top notch, and they were having fun to boot.

I've found one of the biggest challenges for those of us who love the Old Masters is making the connections with others of similar, if parallel, interests. Why is there not more synergy between early music and contemporary classical artists and architects (apart from the fact that the classicists aren't all that enamored of the Renaissance, as I've written before, even if they can't help loving Italy)? One way to start is following the links on this post to those resources that are out there, and keep following them down the rabbit hole--you never know what might turn up.

Noble Warriors I
Turning up outside the Rockefeller was, strangely enough, a small cohort of medieval knights in armor, reenacting ad hoc a bit of knightly battle. They were oblivious to the concert that had just gone on a few hundred feet away, and some of my fellow audience amusedly stumbled on these erstwhile Round Tablers. Full of good cheer and ladened with heavy armor, they were happy to chat and display their chivalrous combat. And what's wrong with that? Would that these serendipities happened more--or maybe they're happening all the time and no one notices.

Noble Warriors II
So, like the Mayne Stage chalkboard from my previous post, here's to only in Chicago, and pictures worth a thousand words.

Oh, and by the way, they're doing Bach St. Matthew's Passion at the Rockefeller on Palm Sunday....