sienamystic: (mermaid)
Was sifting through my old Art History ABC entries, where I did an essay on an art history topic for each letter of the alphabet (click the tag to see them if you'd like) and came across a poem by Michelangelo I posted. I thought I'd share it again.

What file's incessant bite
left this old hide so shrunken, frayed away,
my poor sick soul? When is it due, the day
that sloughs it off, and heaven receives you, where
in primal joy and light
you lived, unvexed by the perilous flesh you wear?
Though I change hide and hair
with little life ahead,
no way to change behavior long engrained,
cramping me all the more as years go by.
I'm envious, Love, I swear
(why hide it?) of the dead,
a panicky muddle-head,
my soul in terror of its sensual tie.
Lord, as the last hours fly,
stretch out in mercy your two arms; make me
less what I've been, more what you'd have me be.

Michelangelo, Poem 161 to Vittoria Colonna.


Dec. 1st, 2005 09:05 am
sienamystic: (Mystic in red and orange)
Well, we've reached the end of the alphabet. This run of the ABCs has been monumental fun for me to do, and I'm glad that other people seem to have enjoyed it as much as I've enjoyed putting them up. However, just because we've reached the end of the alphabet doesn't mean that it's the end of these art history discussions, since they keep my brain engaged (and my brain needs all the help it can get).

Image hosted by is for Francisco de Zurbaran.

The Spaniard knows that reality is not Idea but Life.... Idea, beauty, formal perfection, are abstractions and nothing more. Art, in its turn is bound to concern itself with realities and not with dreams. )


Nov. 22nd, 2005 03:36 pm
sienamystic: (Mulan)
Thank god I have Prep Lad to fall back on when my brain stalls out. He proffered a few Y artists, and then I ruthlessly forced him I timidly asked him to go ahead and write up the article. So everybody, say thank you to Prep Lad for rescuing me and go look at his website to see his artwork.

Image hosted by is for Yuriko Yamaguchi.

local artist in the house! )


Nov. 17th, 2005 11:29 am
sienamystic: (Medici one hour)
I’m not sure if everybody is fully informed about my wild Medici fangirling, particularly for Lorenzo and poor doomed Giuliano. While they're the best known of the family, they were hardly the only Medici to make an impact – some of them ruled Florence, and two of them became Popes.

It’s the portrait of one of these Medici Popes that I want to show today, painted by one of the Big Names of the Renaissance art world.

Image hosted by is for Portrait of Pope Leo X and Cardinals Luigi de’Rossi and Giulio de’Medici, by Raphael.

We have made thee neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with freedom of choice and with honor, as though the maker and molder of thyself, thou mayest fashion thyself in whatever shape thou shalt prefer. Thou shalt have the power to degenerate into the lower forms of life, which are brutish. Thou shalt have the power, out of thy soul's judgment, to be reborn into the higher forms, which are divine. )


Nov. 14th, 2005 01:28 pm
sienamystic: (womp rats)
The previous ABC entry had rather a lot of information, so I'm keeping today's light and fun. I love seeing the various kinds of devils and demons that are depicted in art, and this little scene is one of my favorites.

Image hosted by is for St. Wolfgang Forces the Devil To Hold His Prayerbook, by Michael Pacher



Nov. 9th, 2005 11:15 am
sienamystic: (Default)
The letter V actually has quite a few art historical possibilities, but my interest today has been caught by something slightly peripheral, so I’m going to cheat just a tad by using my letter to indicate two examples of a broader topic.

Image hosted by is for the Villa Boscoreale and the House of the Vetii.

four styles of Roman wall painting )


Nov. 4th, 2005 02:22 pm
sienamystic: (Eowyn)
Remember last time, when we talked about our poor little Tetrarchs? How squatty and identical they were, clinging together in mutual support, and how this indicated a new shift away from realistic portrature?

This trend did indeed continue for several hundred years. But a few stray artworks with a stronger interest in capturing the likeness of a particular person rather than an ideal do pop up here and there. It's possible that the humanistic bend of the twelfth century, which resulted in all those anguished Man of Sorrows, prodded artists into rediscovering some of the possibilities of the human face, and with it, an occasional interest in likeness. And so we come upon this pair:

Image hosted by is for Uta and her husband Ekkehard.

...a feudal baron and his handsome wife... )


Nov. 3rd, 2005 12:07 pm
sienamystic: (Venice)
This is by way of settling a personal score for me. I've visited Italy twice, and each time, went to Venice a couple of times. One of the things I most wanted to see in Venice is inset into the San Marco wall, nice and public, right where everybody walking past can see it.

Both times, their location was covered with panels and other construction barriers, because that whole area was being cleaned and conserved. Really, though, I knew it was just a plot against me. Clearly, they waited until I was spotted on a Venice-bound train, whereupon they rushed to put up the barriers and In Restauro signs. Once I was safely out of the city, it could all come down.

Damn sneaky Italians.

So anyway, one of the reasons I want to go back to Venice is to see these little fellows in person.

Image hosted by is for the Tetrarchs

Between the men of the new and those of the ancient times there will no longer be a thought in common )


Nov. 2nd, 2005 12:49 pm
sienamystic: (Default)
Let’s look at some of the work of that undeniable Maestro of Marble, Signore Michelangelo Buonaroti. Impatient, jealous, quarrelsome, and with dubious standards of personal hygiene, Michelangelo stands, chisel and hammer in hand, as one of the great titans of art. He was a sculptor and painter, an engineer and an architect, as well as a poet. He feuded with Leonardo da Vinci, sassed off to the Pope, and was not very complimentary to his fellow artists. He was also a profound student of humanity, and this instinctive sympathy and ability to depict emotion through the figure of the human body is what sets him apart. A titan himself, his work frequently featured titanic figures, muscular and imposing. But some of them represent not success, but failure: thanks to an interfering Pope Julius II, who wanted things done on his own terms, the project that was to be Michelangelo’s crowning glory, the tomb project for Julius II, was never to be completed as originally envisioned.

Image hosted by is for Michelangelo's Slaves

Raphael said of Michelangelo that he was as 'lonely as the hangman.' )


Oct. 31st, 2005 09:42 am
sienamystic: (Default)
Happy Halloween! The stars and planets must be in alignment, because the letter we’re up on fits perfectly with a very Halloween-appropriate artist. It’s thanks to Prep Lad, who brought him to my attention, that I can bring him to yours – they tend to only put one or two of this artist’s images in all the standard survey books, so it was Prep Lad who said, “Ooh! I know the perfect artist for a Halloween entry!” Therefore,

Image hosted by is for Odilon Redon.

The ghosts of all things past parade, Emerging from the mist and shade That hid them from our gaze, And, full of song and ringing mirth, In one glad moment of rebirth, And again they walk the ways of earth As in the ancient days. )


Oct. 28th, 2005 10:47 am
sienamystic: (Tuscany Trees)
Orsanmichele, located in the center of Florence, is an unusual monument to civic and religious pride. Created as a grain market, it became a bustling center of guild activity and, eventually, the means by which various guilds could display their power and wealth. Guilds commissioned statues from the elite artists of the day – and in Renaissance Florence, they had a lot of them to pick from – and placed these statues (of their respective patron saints) in niches around the building. The sculpture group I’ve chosen for Q depicts a group of these patron saints.

Image hosted by is for Quattro Santi Coronati by Nanni di Banco

ETA: some links my sister requested to the other Orsanmichele statues currently in the National Gallery

the four crowned martyrs )


Oct. 26th, 2005 10:42 am
sienamystic: (Theodora)
The Ottonian stuff went over very nicely, so I decided to backtrack a few years into the Carolingian period. (Hopefully this will further erode all that “Dark Ages” crap, where people think that civilization took a break between the fall of Rome and the beginning of the Renaissance, with perhaps an odd Gothic cathedral popping up hither and yon on the landscape.) The object I’m going to talk about is unique, fascinating, and in it’s own architecture-geek way, lovely.

Image hosted by is for the Plan of St. Gall

The eagerness of the Medieval mind to explain the Christian faith in terms of an orderly, rationalistic philosophy built upon carefully distinguished propositions and well-planned arguments finds visual expression in the plan of St. Gall )


Oct. 25th, 2005 05:57 am
sienamystic: (Bamburg Green Man)
I get to be a little sneaky with O, and show a few favorite pieces of mine.

Image hosted by is for Ottonian Art

Onward to Otto III )


Oct. 21st, 2005 12:28 pm
sienamystic: (Bamburg Green Man)
Let's take a wild left turn now, from Italian Ren sculpture to modern architecture. I loathed much of it on general principles, but then I took a class with a very good professor, and now, although I don't necessarily thrill to the sight of a concrete building, I at least know what's going on a little bit more. This building is one of the few that I do like very much.

Image hosted by is for Notre Dame du Haut, by Le Corbusier

Our Lady of the Heights )


Oct. 20th, 2005 01:58 pm
sienamystic: (Default)
We just had an entry full of gorgeous young women, and at first sight, "M" will apparently feature another one. However, there's a difference between those lovely Lippi ladies and today's woman - and it's one that made me get sniffly the two times I've seen this sculpture in person.

Image hosted by is for Donatello's Mary Magdelene

In this meanwhile the blessed Mary Magdalene, desirous of sovereign contemplation, sought a right sharp desert, and took a place which was ordained by the angel of God, and abode there by the space of thirty years without knowledge of anybody. In which place she had no comfort of running water, ne solace of trees, ne of herbs. )
sienamystic: (raphael)
This is for [ profile] alibi_factory, who hadn't heard of it before.

L is for Laocoon.

Laocoon was a priest of the Trojan temple of Poseidon who tried to warn the city that the big wooden horsie wasn't going to do them any favors (he was the originator of the "Greeks bearing gifts" line). Poseidon was on the side of the Greeks in this particular fight, and sent two giant snakes to kill him and his two sons. (In some versions of the story, you can substitute Apollo for Poseidon, or in some cases, Athena.) At any rate, the essence of the story is: piss off the wrong god and you and your family get devoured by giant poisonous snakes. Of doom.

This particular statue, executed by Athanadoros, Agesander, and Polydoros, was particularly impressive to sculptors of the Renaissance, who thought it had been carved from one solid block of marble (it hadn't). It was excavated in the 1500s, and Michelangelo was present for the unearthing. (I discovered an article claiming that the entire statue is a forgery by Michelangelo, on the grounds that he had been known to be a big fat faker previously, but I have no idea if the person making the claims has any leg to stand on. If she's wrong, she should probably not go near bodies of water, because Poseidon doesn't like to be trifled with.)

At any rate, the execution of the tormented man, his muscles taut, his face strained in anguish as he wrestles with the snakes that coil around him and his sons - it's a splendid piece no matter who created it. I remember going to the Vatican Museum with a group of my fellow grad students, rounding the corner, and seeing my friend Little Hussy's face when she saw it in front of her as one of the best memories of my life.


Oct. 19th, 2005 11:36 am
sienamystic: (Default)
L is for lush, languid, and luxurious, but most of all, for today, l is for lovely. That's because

Image hosted by is for Fra Filippo Lippi.

...genius is a heavenly being, and not a beast of burden )


Oct. 18th, 2005 04:15 pm
sienamystic: (Creatrix)
At home sick and thus without my handy book of Punch initials - I'll add it in tomorrow, so don't fret *g* I'm also asking for clemency if this is a little disorganized - I'm light-headed from Sudafed and sleeping too much because that's all I've felt up to doing. ETA:link to Guardian article on appreciating modern art

Image hosted by is for Barbara Kruger.

We won't play nature to your culture )


Oct. 17th, 2005 09:45 am
sienamystic: (Bring it on)
I know the obvious choice here was to do Jasper Johns, but, well, I don't want to. I wanted to show a work by an artist I know very little about, but who has a work show up in every discussion of Pop Art. Plus, I was so fond of it that I had a small version scotch-taped to my cruddy plastic lamp when I started my first real job. Therefore,

Image hosted by is for Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing? by Richard Hamilton.

Young Romance )


Oct. 14th, 2005 08:44 am
sienamystic: (Three Graces)
We've had a week of much-needed rain, but the grey skies are starting to wear on me just a little bit, so here's a bit of pretty fluff to brighten your morning.

Image hosted by is for Illicit Meeting by Jean-Honore Fragonard.

beautiful frivolity )


sienamystic: (Default)

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