"Art Now and Then" does not mean art occasionally. It means art NOW as opposed to art THEN. It means art in 2019 as compared to art many years ago...sometimes many, many, MANY years ago. It is an attempt to make that art relevant now, letting artists back then speak to us now in the hope that we may better understand them, and in so doing, better understand ourselves and the art produced today.
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Monday, June 10, 2013
St. Ursula Engaged, 1495, Vittore Carpaccio
I'm in the process of doing my homework. In three days, my wife and I fly too Venice, Italy. Thus I'm trying to learn all there is to know about the Venetian School of painting. There's lots to know and very little time to know it in. Vittore Carpaccio (usually known simply by his last name) is not on anyone's "A-list" of important painters in the broad context of the Italian Renaissance. He lived from 1465 to 1525, which puts him smack in the middle of the era, but hardly in midst of the mainstream. Venice was a relative art backwater once you get past the Bellini brothers and Giorgione. Moreover, Carpaccio was more influenced by Antonello da Messina, in any case. He studied under the painter, Lazzaro Bastiani, a Venetian master whose name is not exactly a household word. However, inasmuch as the vast majority of Carpaccio's work remains in Venice, specifically in the Gallerie dell' Accademia (which I plan to visit next Friday), he is considered by many art historians to be somewhat underappreciated. Very well, I'll see what I can do about that.
Salvatore Mundi, 1490, Carpaccio
Carpaccio is remembered primarily for two important series of paintings, the Legend of St. Ursula (top),from around 1490, and the Schiavoni series in decorating the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni around 1502-07 (Schiavoni means Slavs in Venetian Italian). Carpaccio's earliest work is a Salvatore Mundi (left, Savior of the World) dating from 1490. In this work the influence of da Messina and Giovanni Bellini can both be seen. He did a second one in 1520 minus the surrounding apostles. His La visione di Sant'Agostino (below) from the Schiavoni series in 1502 is typical of his mature style. Except for a handful of portraits, virtually all of Carpaccio's work deals with religious subjects, primarily local saints. He appears to have been the primary painter of large, movable, wall decorations for various church schools in the area. His Apotheosis of St. Ursula (bottom) from 1491 is peopled with popes and persona from all levels of society gaping up in awe as the saint is welcomed by God into heaven.
La visione di Sant'Agostino, 1502, Carpaccio
In Carpaccio's later years, between 1511 and his death in 1525, he worked with his sons, Benedetto and Piero in the Venetian hinterlands, but still mostly involved in series painting and in providing visual inspiration for various religious schools springing up during the Italian Renaissance. In addition to paintings for the schools of St. Ursula and the Slavs, he also painted for the Albanians, and schools dedicated too St. John (Giovanni in Italian), and St. Stephen (five panels), as well as individual works featuring St. George, St. Jerome, and St. Trifon. Carpaccio's work is often referred to as Orientalist, with regard to his paintings featuring Turkish Ottoman subjects and styles. I'll let you know more in this regard next month after I've seen his work and recover from the jet lag.