Thursday, April 21, 2011

More Renaissance fun from the DAM

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 6:04 PM

One thing that always surprises me about art that's hundreds of years old is how bright and vibrant it is. Thanks to the steadfastness of tempera paint and modern cleaning techniques, artwork like that at the Denver Art Museum's Cities of Splendor: A Journey Through Renaissance Italy pleases on a sensual level.

In this week's review of the show, we wrote about the brainy layout of the exhibit, so here I want to focus on it's topical beauty, and that means gazing at pictures. I can get swept away in color (I've been obsessed with light peachy pinks for months now), but there's plenty to enjoy on the surface: composition, shapes, facial expressions and gestures, texture ...

Abraham and the Three Angels by Josse Lieferinxe (1495-1500)
  • "Abraham and the Three Angels" by Josse Lieferinxe (1495-1500).

For this one, I'm taken by the eggshell colors of the angels' robes, and their creamy texture juxtaposed with their sharp, dark wings.

Madonna and Child with Columbines, by a follower of Leonard da Vinci (about 1490)
  • "Madonna and Child with Columbines," by a follower of Leonard da Vinci (about 1490).

DAM curator Angelica Daneo says that scholars rate this painting as an excellent example among da Vinci follower artwork. If that sounds like a dubious honor to you, at least you can enjoy the Virgin's beautiful red clothing.

Annunciation to the Shepherds, by a follower of Gentile da Fabriano (early 1400s)
  • "Annunciation to the Shepherds," by a follower of Gentile da Fabriano (early 1400s).

Night scene + crushed perspective = wonderfully weird moods. This small work captures a sense of eeriness in its primitive composition and lighting. The landscape is alien and lit as if it were daytime, while the night sky, flat and unmodulated, is pocked with charming stars.

The Coronation of the Virgin, by Giovanni da Bologna (about 1380)
  • "The Coronation of the Virgin," by Giovanni da Bologna (about 1380).

This one's classically Gothic, with the gold leaf background signifying the heavenly realm. More than anything though, it's lovely for its concentration on the heavy fabric of the robes, from the complementing hues of phthalo-esque blue and (surprise) salmon, to the visual weight they convey.

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