26 October 2014

Bosch and Palladio, to modern eyes

Hieronymus Bosch and Andrea Palladio have long been two of my favorite artists. Bosch is probably seen as quintessentially medieval with his demons, angels, and Hell scenes. Palladio is seen as thoroughly renaissance with his classical architectural vocabulary. Yet their lives overlapped by eight years: Bosch died in 1516 and Palladio was born in 1508. Here we are nearing the end of the overlap period and I was thinking of that overlap as I drove home from Sunday morning with pancakes and the Times in my car Hieronymus, named after the painter. In their honor ...
Hieronymus Bosch, Four Visions of the Hereafter, exterior of Ascent into Heaven, after 1486. Oil on oak panel, 88.8 x 39.9 cm. Palazzo Grimani, Venice. Photo courtesy of Rik Klein Gotink for the Bosch Research and Conservation Project
Andrea Palladio
Villa Foscari, also known as Malcontenta
on the River Brenta outside Venice

The Bosch image above is taken from the Getty research grants page. The grant is to the Noordbrabants Museum which is working on an exhibition in honor of the 500th anniversary of Bosch's death. While I have seen many Bosch paintings, the thought of seeing many of them together in 's-Hertogenbosch, his birthplace, is pretty exciting. Thank you, Getty grant program. They are also "supporting the innovative website Bosch Online, an interactive tool that will allow art historians, conservators, and the public to compare detailed images of nearly 40 Bosch paintings from 26 museum collections across Europe and the United States." I picked a Bosch painting now in Venice to heighten the connecting in my brain though the Bosch Online site says the first documentary evidence of the painting in Venice is 18th century. Still, those Habsburgs who collected early Netherlandish paintings hung out in Mediterranean countries and they probably didn't classify their empire as medieval or renaissance though they may have thought of themselves as thoroughly modern.

19 October 2014

talking about art in front of the object

Write as much as possible in the presence of the actual object and return to it if you have second thoughts.
(J.J. Winckelmann, advice to Charles-Louis Clérisseau, quoted in Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson by Hugh Howard (Bloomsbury, 2006), p. 62)

Went with Angelica to the Rondanini Palace. You will remember that, in one of my first letters from Rome, I spoke of a Medusa which made a great impression on me. Now the mere knowledge that such a work could be created and still exists in the world makes me feel twice the person I was. I would say something about it if everything one could say about such a work were not a waste of breath. Works of art exist to be seen, not talked about, except, perhaps in their presence. I am thoroughly ashamed of all babbling about art in which I used to join. If I can get hold of a good cast of this Medusa, I shall bring it back with me.
(Goethe, Italian journey, 1786, quoted in "History lessons: imitation, work and the temporality of contemporary art," Art history, Sept. 2014, p. 807)

photo by Lydia Anne McCarthy
as part of her i will be the void series

17 October 2014

separated at birth

Marcos Ramírez Erre, Crossroads (Border Tijuana-San Diego), 2003
aluminum, automotive paint, wood, vinyl
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego

license plates
Pierce-Arrow Museum, Buffalo, New York

14 October 2014

Siculo-Normans in Buffalo?

When we were in Palermo and elsewhere in Sicily, we saw these domes on various Siculo-Norman churches:
This is a view of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, near the Palace of the Normans in Palermo. Earlier today, I saw these pillars on University Avenue at Main Street in Buffalo:
We did talk about various European and other groups in Buffalo at the SAH chapter meeting last night. Perhaps the Sicilians and Normans lived in this neighborhood. Or maybe Eric Northman has been lurking about.

13 October 2014

where's the shopping district?

Another Buffalo field trip so that I can go to the chapter meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians this evening. The speaker is David Torke who chained himself to the fence around the Jefferson Avenue shul which was demolished a couple days ago. Sigh.

My first stop was the Pierce-Arrow Museum, aka Buffalo Transportation Museum. They constructed a gas station recently that was designed in 1927 by Frank Lloyd Wright. It hadn't been built and, of course, it's rather different inside a museum than it would be at the corner of Michigan and Cherry streets. The museum also has a bunch of cars and automobilia. Lots of Pierce-Arrow automobiles including a presidential limousine, but also Mustangs, Corvettes, and Model Ts. And signs and stuff. By the way, Pierce-Arrow was based in Buffalo until it went bankrupt in 1938.

After the Pierce-Arrow and Wright, I walked around downtown and was grooving on the wonderful art moderne city/county building, the former romanesque revival city/county building, various churches including an Episcopal church that was nicely off grid with the street, and the Guaranty (Prudential) Building designed by Louis H. Sullivan. As I walked back to the car, three people were walking toward me and one of them asked where the shopping area was. He spoke in a British accent. I realized that I hadn't really seen many shopping opportunities as I meandered.

Leaving downtown, I went up to Talking Leaves Books out Main Street and am now at the Caffè Aroma near the Elmwood branch of Talking Leaves. I took Hertel Avenue across from Main Street to Elmwood and there were shops most of the way along Hertel and people walking on the sidewalk. So the shopping opportunities seem to be out of downtown. At least Hertel and Elmwood are in the City of Buffalo and not in a suburb. If you read about dying/reviving Rust Belt cities, you've probably been reading about Buffalo along with Detroit and other places. The New York Times had an article a couple days ago about flash mobs, aka mass mobs, with people from the suburbs having services at Catholic churches in central cities. The "movement" started in Buffalo and has spread to Detroit, Columbus and Cleveland, and elsewhere. There's hope. The generation of kids that grew up in the suburbs (some the children of white flight) are intrigued again by the big old INTERESTING churches in the cities.