Saturday, June 7, 2014

Bologna (the much shorter), Part 2

 This gi-normous marble tomb also contains a reliquary of Dominic's head on the backside (no photo available--sorry, Mom). This piece is a collaboration between the workshop of Nicola Pisano (horizontal reliefs), Niccolò dell'Arca of terracotta fame (the top, most of the upper standing figures and the left candelabra are his) and the very young Michelangelo (right candelabra, two of the upper figures). We spent a good deal of time looking at this piece and here's where my 2014 and my 1995 recollections did not match. 

In 1995 I could not wait to see the Michelangelo pieces here. In fact, my fascination was so intense that before our visit this week, I couldn't remember anything else about St. Dominic's tomb except that there was a pair to Michelangelo's candelabra. (Michelangelo's is below)

 I've thought a lot about why that was the case and I think as a young grad student I was a bit dazzled by "il divino" and unable to see the other artists present at the party, so to speak. Since then a great deal has happened to shape and reshape my visual point of view. I've seen a lot of art from all periods and in different media and I've become less fixated on the mere name of the artist. I've also been pushed outside of my visual "comfort zone" in really good ways by artist friends (Barbara, Chris--I'm talking to you!) who have challenged me to see both modern and contemporary artists in different ways and to appreciate them. I've also developed and become more assured of my own visual taste, for better or worse. And, while that taste is always evolving, and I hope, deepening, I'm still moved by the "power" and in this case effectiveness (appropriate to place) of a piece--and I'm aware that 19 years of seeing art impacts my reactions to that power. So on Wednesday, despite the obvious demonstration of prodigious skill, I found myself unexpectedly apathetic to Michelangelo's robust, brawny, ultimately human angel on the right front of the tomb.

 No. For me, in Bologna of 2014, it was the sublimely angelic work of Niccolò that won me over. This angel seemed to belong among the realm of the fantastic where we humans don't tread. And so, rather than Raphael, I left Bologna thinking about an artist I had forgotten to remember--whose work is essentially unknown to me. And, somehow that makes the art world of Italy feel fresh, exciting and "new" all over again.

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