Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Frescos from a Roman Villa

John and I like  to visit the National Museums of Rome. We always find it inspiring. 
 This time my eye was caught by some fabulous frescoes from an Augustan villa (27 BC-14 AD). The were found on the grounds of Renaissance Villa Farnesina in Trastevere in 1879 and installed here in  2010
The loose images of pastoral scenes and travellers in landscapes reminded me
 of Petronius' Satyricon and similar ancient writings
and yet have a distinctive "modern" look to them. The images were originally painted on the walls of corridors that connected bedchambers in the villa.
The misty images make my imagination
create stories to connect the action -
whether it be of sea battles 
scenes of celebration and dance
or faded townscapes.
I also loved the brilliantly coloured panels on black backgrounds for the triclinium (dining room)
even when the images were blurred by torch soot. All was magic.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Seven Decorative Motifs -- 1st Century Rome

Every time Bill and I visit the Palazzo Altemps (steps away from Piazza Navona) we discover something new and memorable.
 Last week we had a close look at these delightful fragments of painted stucco in the Evan Gorga Collection.
Every time I like a work of ancient art I tend to say "It still looks fresh."
 But look at these marvellously designs -- still fresh looking after 2,000 years!
 As nearly as I can determine they are fragments from painted cornices
(cornices are "ornamental mouldings around the wall of a room just below the ceiling")
in what historians of classical art call the Fourth style (late Republican-Augustan period) or the 1st Century A.D.
We first posted about the amazing Evan Gorga Collection last year -- here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome

Rome's National Gallery of Modern Art has completed its stunning transformation into one of the ten best collections in the city. Put it at the top of your Things To Do In Rome list.
 You'll find it in the Borghese Gardens, a short walk away from the Piazza di Popolo. Inside you will find a mix of modern and contemporary art. The Italian name of the institution spells this out: Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea.
Brave the cast-metal the lions sunning themselves on the steps -- new work by sculptor Davide Rivalta.
We were drawn to Grass Grows, a work from 1967-69 by Hans Haacke. Notice the grass is a bit brown at the top. When we returned for a second visit a few days later the work had been watered (had it?) and the grass was green again. 
We are increasingly interested in Donald Judd's quiet sculpture. Here is an untitled work from 1972.
The gallery has been curated by the new director, Christiana Collu under the title "Time Is Out of Joint". Works have not been arranged chronologically but through visual, material or conceptual affinities. She has done a spectacular job.
She had stunning material to work with for her radical reinstallation of the collection. We walked from a room with four gorgeous De Chirio paintings from the 1930s
into a room which included this tiny, perfect, Rodin sketch from 1905-15.
I was in right over my head in a room full of late 19th century Symbolist paintings. That is Giulio Aristide Sartorio's Diana of Ephesus and the Slaves behind me.
 and a fun Deco-influenced 1936 Mario Sironi in a nearby room.
Layering is one of Collu's strategies. A Canova Hercules and Lica (c. 1800) is reflected in a faux-sea by Pino Pascali (c.1967) and stands in front of a assemblage by Giuseppe Penone (2002). Fun!
Not fun, but unforgettable -- We are all Flesh, made of actual horse parts from an Istanbul slaughterhouse, by Berlin De Bruyckere, 2011-2012.
Bill caught me channelling Mimmo Paladino's Tana, 1993.
He also got this nice picture of Sol Lewitt's white sculpture in this light-filled room.
John Chamberlain, Untitled, 1965, in an adjacent room.
This László Moholy-Nagy, Yellow Cross Q VII, 1922, still looks fresh.
The Gardener, 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh. What a treasure!
Bill and I love the paintings of Italian painter Filippo di Pisis. So we are going to show you three Still Lives. This one is dated 1930,
this one was painted in 1933
and this one is from 1927. We'd love to see a big exhibition of his work one day!
I was thrilled to find myself in front of this painting -- Dreams by Vittorio Corcos,
(here is a nice detail)
because it is on the cover of the novel I am reading right now -- The Golden Bowl by Henry James.
Cullo also combines 19th century sculpture like Pistrucci's Juno (c. 1840) to stand alongside museum visitors. Here in front of Sivio Rotta's painting, Mental Hospital, 1895.
Some of the late 19th century paintings in the collection are decidedly powerful like Francesco Paolo Michetti's Il voto, 1883 with its scene of extreme religious fervor
and these violent images in the next room -- Michele Cammarano's African-colonialist battle scene of 1896, Emilio Vedova's slashing abstract strokes of 1959 and in the foreground
Bill with Liliana Moro's Underdog, 2005.
In the same room is, Leoncillo's  Night Bombardment, c. 1954.
Bill and I first fell in love with Gastone Novelli's work at a show of his works on paper at MACRO, Rome, a few years ago. This is his delightful Poetry Reading Tour, 1961.
Collu has made the most of the enormous rooms at her disposal. The works have room to breathe.
We'll end with a few Italian artists and a Canadian. Enzo Cucchi's Roma, 1986
Francesco Clemente's Untitled, 1981.
Sandro Chia's Boy and Dog, 1983, with an Italian neoclassical statue of Mercury
The metal sculpture framing Jeff Wall's photograph is by Giuseppe Uncini, Door with Shadow, 1968.
Fun to see this very successful Jeff Wall. Note that it is a photograph rather than his usual light-box: Young Man Wet with Rain, 2013.
OK -- two last Canadians -- reflected in a mirror by Michelangelo Pistoletto, c. 1968
We stepped out of the museum into the brilliant Rome sunshine and climbed the hill back into the spectacular Borghese Gardens. What a town and what a museum!