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.
Holy Family with Saint Francis in a Landscape
oil on canvas
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,