Sunday, June 30, 2019

Medieval Padua and Saint Anthony ~ Arena Chapel and a Prayer for Losing Things

Lovely Padua

Prato della Valle

The Arena Chapel

I have an art history bucket list. Somewhere in my top 5 was the Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel. It just so happens it is a short train ride from Venice so I planned ahead and got entrance tickets for my parents, my aunt and uncle and myself. It happened that my Aunt Penny and Uncle John would be staying in Verona during that time and we would all be able to be there!

This chapel is entirely frescoed by late medieval master Giotto. Some consider him the first renaissance painter because he brought painting forward with more modeling and three dimensionality than previously created in the medieval period. It was commissioned by the Scrovegni family of bankers. Because usury was a sin, a chapel was a good way to atone and hopefully get to heaven.

Love the ceiling with the stars and saints.

Here is a Rick Steves video about the Chapel

Just like going to the see the Last Supper, you need to reserve a ticket and entrance time prior to visiting. Similarly, because of the fragility of the work, you enter into a climate controlled anti-room for 15 minutes before you enter the chapel with your group. The directions are on the website  link at the bottom of this post. Once you enter, you have 15 minutes inside the chapel to take in this magnificent work of art.

The Lamentation

We studied this fresco, in the lower rectangle below, in art history. In fact, we had to write an essay about in on our midterm. This was a perfect example how Giotto changed art from the current standards of medieval painting. The overlapping of figures, angels who show their anguish in dramatic mourning, and setting the stage in a natural setting. This was all new to the period. (More on this in video 3 of the Smart History Videos below.)

I loved this next scene of the baptism of Christ and I wonder if it's the first underwater depiction of Jesus?

Next up are 4 short "Smart History" teaching videos with all sorts of interesting information about the chapel by art historians. It's great because there are a lot of close ups with information about the biblical stories behind the the frescoes as well as giving wonderful context within the scope of art history.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3
(focuses on the Lamentation)

Part 4

The Picture Gallery

The adjacent museum was much more extensive than I had expected! Here are a few of my favorites that stood out to me.

Ginevra Cantofoli (Bologna, 16181-1672)
Giovane Donna in Vesti Orientali

This is a detail of the painting above. There was something so captivating about her expression. I kept going back to it!

from the website:

The works in the Picture Gallery, from religious and municipal institutions and donations by private citizens, number about 3000, including canvases by Giorgione and Titian, and offer an ample perspective of Venetian painting from the 14th - 16th centuries. The paintings, which follow a chronological path, were executed by the most important artists in Italian art history. 

Below is a detail of a Tintoretto. So much movement and drama! He seems to be getting a jump on the Baroque period!

Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto (Venezia, 1519-1594)
Giove e Semele 
Oil on Wood

This painting wins for the "most over top" frame on a small portrait. It is the goddess Minerva after all, so why not?

Pietro Liberi (Padova 1614-Venezia 1687)
Minerva Armata

I love the way this next unfinished piece by Andrea Mantegna looks with it's contrast of a color and monochrome. I might need to use that idea in an intentional way on one of my pieces.

Andrea Mantegna (1430-1506)
Madonna della Tenerezza, 1491

This next portrait of a padre looked so much more contemporary than what the year would suggest! My mom and I loved it. When you go into some of these museums a lot of the art can sort of run together but then there are others that stop you in your tracks. This was one of them. In person he looked like he was going to start talking to us!

Francesco Apollodoro called Il Porcia (1532-1612)
Ritratto del compositore Costanzo Porta 

I loved that the trams that take you around Padua are decorated with stars like the ceiling of the Scrovegni Chapel!

Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padova

The renaissance tomb of Saint Anthony is inside this church. Unfortunately, you can't take photos but the large and impressive basilica has many relics of St. Anthony as well as sculptures by Donatello. It was started just a year after the saint's death.

 I mainly wanted to say a big old thank you to St. Anthony. I can't tell you how many times at work or at home that I've prayed "Saint Anthony please come round, something's lost and must be found." I tend to misplace things.

The Cloister

The church is filled with pilgrims and they line up to place a hand on the tomb. When I placed my hand on the cool surface I said thank you and I felt a burst of energy go up my arm into my chest. I smiled as I walked back to family sitting in the pews.

Just a side note, there is a big gift shop and when you walk through it, there is another small room filled with local teas and other artisanal products. I brought back a lovely floral tea!

Prato della Valle is a 90,000 square meter elliptical piazza and the largest in Italy. Scroll to the top for another beautiful view. I love how piazzas are such a part of the fabric of Italian life. People of all ages gather together in an outdoor space, large or small, to visit and spend time together out in their neighborhoods and communities. It's the best of Italy and says so much about the culture. I just love it!

Blessings and light!

Scrovegni Chapel
Museo d'Arte Medioevale e Moderna
Basilica Sant'Antonio di Padova

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Mark Bradford: Tomorrow is Another Day - 2017 Venice Biennale

I go through the arc of a relationship with every single painting that I do. 
Mark Bradford

Barren, 2017
Exterior installation of American Pavilion 
gravel, trash, paper cups, broken hoses

American Pavilion
Venice Biennale 

Ever since I'd seen an old PBS Art 21, about artist Ann Hamilton, I'd wanted to go to the Venice Biennale. She was the artist who did the 1999 American Pavilion and my parents had seen her installation that year. The artist chosen for the 2017 American Pavilion was artist Mark Bradford. 

Check out how cool his work and medium are in this video.

It was incredible. 

Mark Bradford was born November, 1961 in Los Angeles, California. I'd seen his work at the Broad Museum downtown and was very excited to see his pavilion that year!

Here he his talking about the installation and his philanthropic work in Venice.

Art is everywhere, in Venice, during the Biennale. It all began in 1895 and it was founded by the Venetian City Council. It is held in odd-numbered years.

The formal exhibiting happens at the the Giardini. It is a huge park or garden where there is an enormous exhibition hall and 30 smaller national pavilions. The 30 permanent national pavilions are owned by the participating country and managed by their ministries of culture and if you didn't end up in one of those, your country might be exhibiting at another venue somewhere around Venice. 

As I said, art is everywhere!

Spoiled Foot, 2016

The entrance room of the American Pavilion of 2017 was filled with this enormous installation piece that pushed you to the outer edges of the room to get by it. It had Mark Bradford's trademark layering and textures. It would be difficult to describe it so I'm glad I photographed it. It was a metaphor for people being "pushed to the margins" (you physically were pushed) and for "centralized social power." 

I'm kind of an insecure artist.
I hop from piece to piece. 
I always think my life depends on every painting. 
Every painting is my first painting. 
~Mark Bradford

Medusa, 2016
Acrylic, paint paper, rope, caulk ... 

Medusa, as told by Ovid, was a beautiful and powerful woman raped by Poseidon in Athena's temple. Athena was pissed and transformed her lovely locks into serpents and gave her a face that would turn men to stone looking upon her.

This piece made me sad for Medusa.

I looked her dead in the eye
And I knew her
~Mark Bradford's poem of Medusa 

Pavilion Rotunda
Oracle, 2017
skeins of sleached and black paper

About this piece he said it was "a site between cave and altar, between nature and culture, where oracles would deliver profound truth and predictions."

I just follow the things I'm interested in. 
That's always guided me. 
If I'm interested in something, that's where I go. 
Mark Bradford

I wish you could see the following two works in person. They represented the "beauty and fragility of nature" and they were stunning. 

The layers of color and texture were absolutely transporting. There was so much depth. I think that's why I love Rothko, as well. You feel like you can fall into the layers and let them take you on a journey somewhere else. I'm not great with talking about art in a way a historian or gallery person would talk about it, but I know what I love when I see it. And this ... I loved!

Go Tell it on the Mountain, 2016

My art practice is very detail-, labor- intensive 
and I think that that's a way of slowing myself down 
so that I can hear myself think. 
That quieter voice has sometimes 
the more interesting idea, 
if I can get to it.
~Mark Bradford

Tomorrow Is Another Day
mixed media on canvas

Below is a detail of the piece above. If I'd had a chair and endless amounts of time I could have stared at it for hours. The commercial paper used was bleached, soaked and then molded by the artist.

I've always been inspired by small details that make me wander. 
My mother would ask me, 'What are you looking at so intensely?' 
I would answer, 'Everything and nothing.' 
She really supported my wanderings, 
called me Marco Polo. 
~Mark Bradford

"...In Venice, as an adjunct to his pavilion, he has pledged to provide funding over six years for Rio TerĂ  dei Pensieri, a local prison cooperative that teaches practical job skills to inmates. Consider it site-specific social work. For him, art is “not just what happens in the hermetically sealed studio, and it’s not what happens in the communities—it’s something in between.”

"When I say the artist is a citizen, I have interest in politics and communities, but it’s still under the umbrella of being an artist,” Bradford said at the opening ceremony for his pavilion. Over the years, he has used his clout as a market star to support numerous social causes in his hometown of Los Angeles, focusing this work through his nonprofit organization Art + Practice. He has sold artworks at auction to raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund these projects." 

Here's a 60 Minutes interview about the chance meeting between Bradford and Anderson Cooper. 

I just like artist-driven projects, 
but for artists themselves: 
artist spaces, artist mentor programs, 
and artists buying buildings and making lofts. 
Doing whatever we can do. 
Because at the end of the day, 
I really think that we as a community only have each other. 
~Mark Bradford

The Biennale was so inspiring and completely varied. Each pavilion was another creative adventure to behold! I'll share more of the artists but I plan to alternate with other posts, as well. Venice, Padua, Verona, Hawaii and then ... my recent walk through Italy on the Via di Francesco. 

Blessings and light!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Burano, Italy! Color Inspiration! And 10 years of Blogging!

I prefer living in color.
~David Hockney

Burano, Italy

I'm back! AND it's my 10 year anniversary of Cobalt Violet! My very first post went up June 6, 2009. While I'm not as prolific a poster as I once was, it's still important to me and I love the wonderful folks I've found through this blog and I miss it when I'm away!

I have returned from my recent adventure on the Via di Francesco, walking in the footsteps of Saint Francis from La Verna in Tuscany south to Assisi in Umbria. It was as incredible as I'd hoped and I can't wait to share my experiences on what was a crazy, wonderful, challenging and sometimes even a bit brutal pilgrimage!

While I try to organize my thoughts and crazy amounts of photos, I will be finishing posting my last trip which was somehow a year and 10 months ago! 

After traveling around Scotland, my parents and I headed to Venice for the Biennale, one of the worlds largest and most prestigious international art exhibitions. I will get to that later but I thought I'd take you on a side trip to Burano.

A short boat ride takes you from Venice to the little fisherman's island known for its lacemaking and colorful houses. About 450 of its 3000 residents are still registered as fisherman.

Color is my day-long
~Claude Monet

Looking around the corner becomes an abstract ...

Mere color can speak to the soul
in a thousand different ways.
~Oscar Wilde

The island is really an artist's dream. I have so many photos to paint but, of course, the dream is to go back and stay and paint en plein air! I had wanted to visit Burano for so long that I really did feel  lucky just to spend an afternoon.

I found I could 
say things with color
that I couldn't say
any other way.
~Georgia O'Keeffe

Color is a power 
which directly
influences the soul.
~Wassily Kandinsky

My mom and I decided to help the local economy and each bought a hat! Here I am, below, in my fabulous new red hat which took an act of God to get it back to L.A. without being destroyed! That and letting everyone in the seats next to me on the plane know that there was precious sartorial cargo in the overhead! 

Hope you are all doing well and that your summer is off to a lovely start! Thank you so much for visiting. I am ever grateful to have found such wonderful friends in the blogosphere!

As always ...

Blessings and light!