Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Prado

People with opinions scare me sometimes.  I don't feel like I usually have strong opinions.  Some people feel differently about me in that regards.  Some people believe that an artist or a writer should have a strong opinion on everything.  I have a different opinion on that matter.

—but I'll just come right and say it, I don't like Impressionist art.

It never struck a chord with me.

Prado was teeming with Impressionist art and I don't regret seeing any of it.  It also included a great deal of Renaissance and Baroque paintings and a massive collection of Spanish Art.

The Museo del Prado is another one of the greatest museums in Europe and the highlight of my pit stop in Madrid, the capital of Spain, during my return to Rome from Marrakech.

The most relevant thing I have to say about Madrid is that their subway system is absurdly efficient.  I would best describe the city as being almost too perfect, creepy perfect, like a giant real life, Sim City.  That was my opinion.

Crucifix in very Catholic Spain

I was able to get a glance of "David and Goliath" at Prado and also "Saint Catherine of Alexandria" at the nearby Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

Those two works of art were created by Baroque, Italian painter, Michelangelo Merisi-Da Caravaggio.

This is why I find myself infatuated with Baroque art...

When you walk into an Italian church and this massive Baroque painting is towering in the chapel above you, it draws you in, demands you look at it, confounds, exaggerates, then gradually tells you a story in (oftentimes painfully realistic) detail.

These are two aspects of semantics (in my opinion) I consider most relevant to telling a story; texture and detail.

Sometimes much more sophisticated feeling can be created through telling a story, 

Than by expressing a mood.

How is texture relevant to telling a story?

It's my story!  Don't ask!

Texture is the little thing I use to make you feel like you are really there.



Impressionist paintings use the shifting direction of light to create a feeling for reality unburdened by the frivolous details and I think they are great for hanging in your bathroom to set an obvious mood that may lull your attention without making you force it or disturbing your concentration…

I know you have an Impressionist painting hanging in your bathroom! 



This is an opinion!  I have a universal love for museums, a distaste for impressionism, it demonstrates a lot of great ideas, it's so fun to make, I really just don't enjoy looking at it.  This is something mentioned by Michael in Bar Fight.

Sorry!

I should at this time bring up Caravaggio's 1606 painting Supper at Emmaus.  It has nothing to do with Prado, for one, it's in Milan and it's a little different from the rest of Caravaggio's paintings.  The brush strokes intentionally or not are a little more free and careless almost revealing a sort of wearied tangibility and deterioration of the situation, as opposed to what I would interpret as the typical gasping realism of his Baroque paintings.  It was almost if Caravaggio was depicting a sort of well, impression, of the moment.

Caravaggio was onto something new in Emmaus and might have even been a little ahead of his time.  Had he the opportunity to paint for years to come it could have led to something new.  Emmaus was created months after Caravaggio got himself into deep trouble for murdering Ranuccio Tomassoni of Terni, four years before his own death.

This is what I would describe, briefly, as a general chronology of the evolution of painting throughout the 14th and 19th century; Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque (17th), Neoclassicism, Romanticism, vaguely, Impressionism (19th).

Baroque painting played an important role in the Counter-Reformation, it was an artistic style that stirred up emotions to pull people in and demonstrate religious ideas as opposed to the stiffer symbolism of say Mannerism or Renaissance paintings.  It was the Roman Catholic Church's answer to the Protestant Reformation.

Baroque expresses a great deal of exaggeration and drama

Bar Fight expresses a great deal of exaggeration and drama too.

Bar Fight includes a scene largely structured as a recreation of Caravaggio's 1606 Supper at Emmaus.  (Caravaggio created another version of Supper at Emmaus in 1601)

I saw Caravaggio's 1601 Supper at Emmaus at Quirinal during a massive Caravaggio exhibit that conveniently took place in Rome during my stay.  I will discuss this in great detail, in this blog, in the future. 

As I said there is a lot of great Baroque work at Prado such as Velazquez, Ribera and Murillo.

I'v never heard of most of them either but they are understood to be important!

In the future, if I remember, I will discuss how I spent a seeming eternity in an endless labyrinth of really creepy Baroque art, in the future, at the National Museum of Capodimonte in Naples.

It was like looking into a mirror reflecting another mirror forever into an endless world blood and light and tenebrous shadow.

Some Baroque paintings are not as appealing as Caravaggio's exceptionally maintained and restored works of art. 

The reason Caravaggio killed Ranuccio Tomassoni was because of a dispute over a tennis match.

The reason Michael and Matthew decided to initiate their first Bar Fight was much less frivolous.

Did you know that Italian painters were playing tennis in the 1600's?

Likewise Prado is best known for its wide variety of Spanish art (that excludes the Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio) most of the stuff in this article has had nothing to do with Prado, I've branched way off topic, lets talk about one of Prado's all-stars the Romantic Spanish painter, Goya, what a guy, here is a picture of Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco Goya.

Image taken from the public domain

Eeek!  Some of the other big shots at Prado are El Greco, Rafael, Rembrandt and Tiziano.

Let this be the testament of my love for museums in general.  The Capitoline Museums, Vatican Museums, Museum of Roman Civilization, Galleria Borghese, Doria Pamphilj, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Rome, The Uffizi and Pitti Palace in Florence, Capodimonte in Naples name a few recent stops.  I spend a whole day at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History every year and I have yet to grow tired of it.  I will not deny the importance and influence of Impressionist art.  I do not feel like I usually have strong opinions.  Maybe I do.  Okay I do.  I feel subjectively, that if something sounds like it could make sense, it must be true.  Most importantly everything written in this blog is true.  It is based on an email sent on 3/12/2010. 

Madrid, the streets

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