Archive for December, 2011

Hidden Within Plain Sight?

Posted in 16th cent, Blessed Virgin Mary, LACMA, Leonardo, Vasari on December 7, 2011 by babylonbaroque

In reading this mornings NY Times, I was once again confronted with the ethical squeamishness of the ongoing search for the missing Leonardo fresco, the Battle of Anghiari. I love Leonardo as much as the next fellow, but I have always worried about the fate of my beloved Giorio Vasari’s fresco that is indeed with us, allegedly covering  The Battle of Anghiari. Whether or not Leonardo’s fresco is still behind the Vasari seems to me unclear; there has been extensive, seemingly thorough research into the whereabouts of the glamorous lost Leonardo, as this August 26th 2011 NYT article details but I have reservations. I am admittedly a dilettantish art enthusiast, but Leonardo’s desire to experiment is well known- we need look no further then the Last Supper, what painterly concoction had Leonardo  experimented with that would lead to the Vasari  commission? One need to read Vasari’s account of Leonardo to see what a huge crush he had on the man and his talents; he would not willy-nilly deface a great Leonardo. I’m fearful we will lose a Vasari for a crumbled ghost of a Leonardo.

I may be biased, Vasari has become a great inspiration to me, he is a meat-and -potatoes sort of painter, gifted but not stellar, best known for chronicling the luminaries of his culture. As an artist struggling with his inadequacies I can relate. In no way am I able to claim even a hint of Vasari’s skill and accomplishment; yet his facing head on the brilliance of Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo is admirable and worthy of emulation.

Today’s article pointed out that given Leonardo’s (well deserved ) celebrity, the Vasari could easily be compromised for a publicity stunt. Alesandro Mottola Molfino (God, I wish I had a name like that), president of Italia Nostra, a conservancy dedicated to preserving Italy’s cultural heritage, said it best: ” We’ve grown weary of using art history as an event or a marketing opportunity”. I frankly could not agree more, how have our museums so thoroughly debased themselves with blockbuster shows aimed solely at pleasing  the gift-shop-hungry hoards? Why must art be viewed as stunt or performance? I am often disheartened at the empty halls of LACMA, where I have the galleries of 15th and 16th century paintings to myself while the tedious Tim Burton exhibition is teeming with lighthearted revelers.

 I must stop, I’m ranting once again.

That said in my lonely meanderings I recently stumbled upon a Vasari at LACMA, I was unaware that we had one in Los Angeles. It is rather typical, large and attractive , perhaps hastily painted in his workshop-the Virgin’s club foot attests to a certain lack of quality control. But even with its terribly minor flaws it tickled my eye, far more satisfying then the mid-century kitsch being celebrated in the Resnick Pavillion below. Given the upcoming season, the feast day of our Savior’s birth, I thought it a fitting image for this post.

Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)

Holy Family with Saint Francis in a Landscape

1542

oil on canvas 

LACMA

Click to enlarge, the details are worth the effort.

As I mentioned in my previous post I will be packing up my studio, preparing for a move to San Diego- my mother-in -law is unwell, I must tend to her. But my concern for this matter trumped my mundane duties, plus I really hate packing.

But I must, so Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, joyous winter celebrations to all.

See you most likely in 2012.

Until that time, take care,

BabylonBaroque

Farewell Los Angeles

Posted in LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Theatre on December 6, 2011 by babylonbaroque

In a few days LA will be a memory, we ship out on the 21st.

I am feeling ambivalent, LA has never been a good fit.

That said I have made many fine friends, I will treasure the memories. The following is a scrap-book of fond remembrances:

My  view will be missed,

I will miss the drama of my apartment.

Nature has been elusive, but I have had a few random encounters.

Although, this tends to be the norm.

I have wonderful memories of the Getty Center, a marvel of a place,

here with my sister Kat and niece Grace, visiting from Philly.

We married in LA, our tiny West Hollywood condo, gotta love that,

making it legal, July 3rd 2008,

a very sleepy Flower-Pug, Daisy

There are of course many sights that I will miss, the beautiful Grauman’s Chinese.

I only visited once, saw something forgettable, BUT the interior, that will not be forgotten.

China Town, although modest in size, is not without its charms.

One of the most dazzling places is the Los Angeles theater, Queen of the faded Broadway beauties.

Difficult to speak of LA without mentioning Street Art,

Regarding the Blessed Virgin, the Cathedral is always worth a visit.

An obvious delight is the Getty Villa in Malibu,

the husband enthroned.

A less obvious palace of delight is the Clark Library in Downtown, a wonder of wonders,

ceiling decorations that are as subtle as a train wreck,

the grounds are a delight particularly given the bustle and grit that surrounds this sanctuary.

Far removed from poverty and grime, the Huntington with its impressive collection of Anglo portraiture and stunning gardens stands aloof and gorgeous in Pasadena.

Always the right choice to spend an afternoon wandering about.

My favorite Sunday jog is up Runyon Canyon, spectacular views of the city and nearly naked flesh.

I have grown incredibly fond of LACMA, I now consider it “my” museum.

I have grown to know the collection, I will perhaps miss this most of all.

Quite simply my favorite painting in LA, Guido Reni’s Bacchus and Ariadne, the placement is particularly handsome.

As I will begin the tedious task of packing up, I will most likely not be making many posts until the new year.

Wishing my readers a very joyous holiday season until that time.

Take care, Babylon Baroque