November 10, 2009

Italy Now: The Classic and the Contemporary Juxtaposed

Filed under: Art and Culture, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — michaeldelicio @ 3:59 PM

Italians love and cherish the countless art and architecture treasures of their classical and ancient heritage. Every where one looks, the eyes are dazzled by the beauty of the Ancient, the Renaissance and the Baroque. The good news is, the traditional reverence for art and architecture on the cutting edge, did not end with the Baroque. In fact the line remains unbroken right up to the present with a demonstrated love of all things MODERN, and a playful, provoking tendency to put the modern and the classical right up against one another for contrast and comparison.


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I was KNOCKED OUT when I showed up for my tour of the ROMAN FORUM and COLOSSEUM, to see these stunning modern sculptures by the brilliant Costa Rican sculptor Jimenez Deredia, installed throughout the grounds. Deredia brings a haunting Central American Pre-Columbian mysticism to this place already inhabited with so many shadows of the past. Aesthetically the contrast is stunning. Deredia’s ovular females, giving birth to themselves and the world stare far off into the horizon, seemingly quite undisturbed by the mere rising and falling of empires.

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In Florence, the Galleria dell’ Accademia houses what is perhaps the most famous and admired (and parodied) sculptures in all the world, Michaelangelo’s David. This year, they have done something unprecedented on several counts. For one, the introduction of a major body of work that is contemporary in this traditional and storied venue. And shockingly, delightfully, thrillingly!!…they have paired that said work, the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe with The David, this most beloved and revered acheivement in Renaissance art.

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I hardly need to name the comparisons evoked by looking at these two artists together. The eternal beauty of the human form comes immediately before you. The David itself is so stunning, and so beautifully presented, that it really takes your breath away. The Mapplethorpe photographs are viewed in a small dark narrow hallway, which then stunningly opens up into the wide brightly lit rotunda that holds the David. There are several Mapplethorpes on view in that area, directly surrounding the David. The message is clear.


CARAVAGGIO and BACON  at the gorgeous Villa Borghese Museum in Rome, is a revelation. The pairing of these two geniuses is brilliant. The effect is highly provocative on a visceral level. The beauty of shadows. The sacred and the profane. Space and reality. Darkness, life and death.  For me, this exhibit threw real light onto the work of two artists that I already greatly admired, but now will never think of in quite the same way.

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I came to Italy to see the Classics. I did throw my coin into the Trevi Fountain, so that means I’ll return! When I do, I look forward witnessing the continuing innovations in art and design, alongside the timeless classics that continue to inspire the world!

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  1. As soon as I saw the first photo of the Jimenez Deridias, I thought “Hey! That’s up on the Palatine!” And so it is. What a brilliant place for an outdoor exhibition. I’m going back to Rome in June and out of all the cities in the world, no where else holds the surprises of Rome. How great you got to see at least two of them. I have a feeling that there were plenty more though. Welcome back and I’m looking forward to reading more about your adventures.

    Comment by Paul Anater — November 10, 2009 @ 6:06 PM

  2. Thanks for the great post. I’m ready to leave tomorrow. So fun to live vicariously through others experiences. I know you had a fabulous time.



    Comment by Gwen Driscoll — November 30, 2009 @ 9:51 PM

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