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Posts tagged ‘Italy’

The Scrovegni Chapel: My Moment with Giotto’s Masterpiece

To enter the Scrovegni Chapel, you have to spend 15 minutes in a “environmental equilibration” chamber and video introduction before passing through two air locks into the chapel.  Shockingly, visitors only get another 15 minutes to look around before being rushed out by security.  However, if you are a clever art pilgrim (like yours truly) and book multiple back-to-back tickets, the museum escort chases everyone else out but leaves you alone for a few glorious minutes within the chapel.

Standing at the altar looking down the rows of painted vignettes, the rich pastel colors glowing warmly from the morning sunlight, has got to be one of the most profoundly beautiful art experience I have ever had.  To say I loved the Scrovegni Chapel would be an understatement.

Giotto Scrovegni Chapel, Padua

Photo of Giotto’s masterpiece, the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (Photo: Art Bouillon)

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Real Gardens that Inspired Art

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are discussing Spring!  Take a look at all the great stories at the bottom of the page.

"The Unicorn in Captivity", Netherlandish, 1495-1505 (Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Unfortunately the unicorn in this lovely garden is pure fantasy.  “The Unicorn in Captivity”, Netherlandish, 1495-1505 (Photo: The Cloisters Collection)

While Washington D.C. has been stubbornly cold this March, I’m just starting to see the first bulbs pop up.  And nothing announces Spring like flowers!  Gardens and their exquisite flora have always been a popular subject in Art, but not all of the places in these paintings are made up locations.  Let’s take a look at a few of the “real” gardens behind some famous paintings.

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Till Death Do We Part: Love, Art, and Funerary Monuments

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  Something must be in the air this month because we’re discussing LOVE in art.  Check out all the stories below!

Maria Theresa's tomb

The Tomb of Maria Theresa & Francis I, Kaisergruft, Vienna. Despite his infidelity, Empress Maria Theresia of Austro-Hungary was deeply devoted to her husband Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. She designed their dual tomb with portrait busts that would forever gaze at each other. (Photo: Gregg, flickr)

Romantic pursuit, courtship, and love in general whether between Gods and Goddesses, royals, or peasants, is a common theme in art history.  Universally appealing and understood, it crosses cultures and time periods.  While it’s interesting to infer attitudes from the images used, we have to extrapolate from these ideal pictures to see what “love” was like for everyday people.  Studying mortuary monuments are one little glimpse into these romantic relationships.  Some memorials are so personal and meaningful, we can’t help but feel the love these couples shared.

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Temporary Art on the Streets of Padua

Germination by Marisa Merlin, Padova

A passerby admires “Germination” by Marisa Merlin, on the streets of Padua

While I love museums, I get excited when art breaks out of its proverbial frame and interacts with viewers in new ways.  Last October, I was fortunate enough to see an outdoor art exhibit sponsored by the city of Padua entitled, “Artisti al Muro,” or, Artists on the Walls.  These 21 temporary pieces were scattered around the old city – some blending in with and some in stark contrast with their surroundings.  These works included naturalistic wire sculptures of plants, fabric canopies, and ghostly figures.  My favorite piece was “Germination” by Marisa Merlin which reiterated for me how successful mixed media pieces can be and how critical public art installations are.

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The Life of A Painting: Leonardo da Vinci’s St. Jerome in the Wilderness

We take it for granted that paintings should be shown behind glass, watched by security, and protected in museums. However, for centuries a piece of art was just another personal possession.  Someone could have a painting altered just as easily as having pants hemmed.  Even pieces by the great masters were not immune to harsh treatment.  Even an incredible painting by the Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci was carved up and nearly lost.

Leonardo da Vinci "Saint Jerome in the Wilderness", Vatican Museums (Pinacoteca), Rome

Leonardo da Vinci “Saint Jerome in the Wilderness (unrestored)”, Vatican Museums (Pinacoteca), Rome (Photo: Wikimedia)

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