Susan J Gottlieb

 

Oh what difference….

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In art and person, Raphael the dandy of the High Renaissance was so different than Caravaggio. Agreeable and elegant he was the total Yin to Caravaggio’s Yang. And Classical rather than Romantic, Raphael was all Renaissance in style.

The School of Athens, is grand in scale leaving the viewer to feel awed.

(Except for the Pope whose apartment this was painted in…) Set like a stage we are audience rather than participants. A horizontal emphasis speaks of a humanistic emphasis but figures and scene are rather idealized. Even Michelangelo who was at the time weary from painting the Sistine Chapel is here painted front and center, resting. To see his self portrait in the Sistine Chapel is quite a different rendering.

Light is consistent overall, each figure having the same illumination. Calm is the order, hence the horizontal. And the central, linear perspective design draws us to the main characters, Plato and Aristotle.

Like Michelangelo’s David, emotion is minimal as is movement. Behavior need reflect this as well and intellect cherished. 

How dare he!

That Caravaggio was such a trouble maker! Painting Jesus in a bar, limp-handed- pointing, in shadow not central! How dare he….(but do you see he let just a wee bit of halo flicker in the air above Christ’s head.) Like Bernini’s David this painting,  The Calling of St. Matthew, is full of drama yet on a human in scale. Maybe too human for his clients.

 Asymmetrical in layout, high contrast use of light and dark (called chiaroscuro) we see Jesus, a real person, coming into a bar and calling out to Levi, the tax collector, to follow him. Light guides us through the painting. A diagonal line draws us from Jesus to the table of men. Faces flicker, knees, legs and that hand of Jesus…have you seen it before? Think Sistine Chapel ceiling!

We are drawn into the scene, part of it, as with Bernini’s David in the moment before the stone is released. We are witness to the moment Levi becomes Matthew. Story telling, emotion through drama this Baroque painter wanted the audience to feel the power of the moment on a personal level.

Paying attention. Pizza perfection. Capriciosa pizza is, perhaps, my most loved pizza. This capricious pizza, if cooked properly, has a sunny side egg on top with lightly runny yolk. Even here in Rome there are many pizzerias  that over cook the egg. I will eat them none the less, and be content but, to come back again and again to Baffetto and consistenly find a perfect capriciosa is thrilling. Am I thilled by the pizza or by the beautiful effort? Beautiful effort wins hands down. Now what’s for dinner?

Paying attention. Pizza perfection. Capriciosa pizza is, perhaps, my most loved pizza. This capricious pizza, if cooked properly, has a sunny side egg on top with lightly runny yolk. Even here in Rome there are many pizzerias that over cook the egg. I will eat them none the less, and be content but, to come back again and again to Baffetto and consistenly find a perfect capriciosa is thrilling. Am I thilled by the pizza or by the beautiful effort? Beautiful effort wins hands down. Now what’s for dinner?

Perfection has nothing to do with symmetry. I love asymmetry.  Black crispy on one side and not the other? Variation, contrast, opens the senses.

Perfection has nothing to do with symmetry. I love asymmetry. Black crispy on one side and not the other? Variation, contrast, opens the senses.

And live life large or small! Igor Stravinsky and his better half….on the Isola di San Michele in the Venetian lagoon.

And live life large or small! Igor Stravinsky and his better half….on the Isola di San Michele in the Venetian lagoon.

Be happy and silly….

Be happy and silly….

And eat good food. Can be simple but make it fresh.  These mussels at the Osteria ai Pescatori con Cucina were the best I have had! Eat good food and be happy!

And eat good food. Can be simple but make it fresh. These mussels at the Osteria ai Pescatori con Cucina were the best I have had! Eat good food and be happy!

Color! I am convinced if we painted our houses with more colors we all would be happier. Or not…but think abou it. Burano!

Color! I am convinced if we painted our houses with more colors we all would be happier. Or not…but think abou it. Burano!

A brief tale of 2 Davids

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Perfect stone (Classical)

 Most all of us are familiar with Michelangelo’s scrumptious David. This David (1501-1504) I say this because there many sculptures of the Biblical subject, perfectly mirrors the classical qualities that were considered most beautiful according to High Renaissance aesthetics (or did the artist lead the way and set up the aesthetic… hmmm). Today most people would consider this sense of visual beauty to also be the preferred style, even though it is more than 500 years old.

 This David, sling shot casually draped over his shoulder, stands firm, weight slightly shifted to one leg, into a contrapposto stance, a slight “S” curve. (Contrapposto dates back to the early Greeks and was the beginning of exemplifying movement). David’s face turned, is calm and focused with little emotive qualities. This is part of the classical style. Key ideas here…little emotion and movement, idealized and controlled perfection are most important.

 We the viewer are held back to observe a beautifully frozen moment of a monumental idealized beauty.

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When stone moves (Romantic)

Some time later, oft’ called the Baroque period, Gian Lorenzo Bernini comes along. He too creates a beautiful David (1623 to 1624). Bernini, equally as talented, shows us another interpretation with a different emphasis.

 His David is not monumental in size, closer to life size, but this stone wonder winds back in to a spiral of lip-biting-concentration. We are drawn into a still of a film about to play, into the moment of release, sling shot pulled back, torque increasing and wham-o, we know what happens next. This sculpture, certainly not staid rather conveys impending movement.

 Key ideas here…use spiraling and diagonal lines to create a great deal visual movement. Then carve the marble crystals in a way so as to convey a face with lots of emotion. Here are the main qualities of  the romantic style. For a Romantic artist, be they of the Baroque or Romantic or any period, communicating stories and emotion are most important.

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