Monday, August 5, 2013

At the Getty: 'Gardens of the Renaissance' and 'Sicily: Art and Invention.'

Two of my favorite art styles are now exhibiting at the Getty. Both shows will close this month and it's well worth the trip to LA to see them.

-->Painted with spellbinding precision, the pink-and-yellow-striped tulip shown here is among seven of varying colors featured in this book illuminated by Joris Hoefnagel for Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (ruled 1576–1612). Hoefnagel's naturalistic depictions of plants, animals, and insects rival the text in beauty.
In the era surrounding the Renaissance, the garden took on special significance as a symbol of religious sentiment, learned knowledge, and social status, and as a site for aesthetic enjoyment. The garden of a noble’s villa, by its various components, would signify the owner’s knowledge of, and acquaintance with, the broader world. 
Whether connected to grandiose villas or common kitchens, gardens in the Renaissance (about 1400–1600) were planted and treasured by people in all levels of society. Some cultivated gardens for the display and study of beautiful and rare plants, while others did so for sustenance. 
Manuscript artists depicted gardens in a variety of texts, and their illustrations attest to the Renaissance spirit for the careful study of the natural world. In a society then dominated by the church, gardens were also integral to a Christian visual tradition, from the paradise of Eden to the enclosed green spaces associated with Mary and Christ. Gardens are cyclical and impermanent; most planted during the Renaissance have changed or been lost. The objects in this exhibition offer a glimpse into how people at the time pictured, used, and enjoyed these idyllic green spaces.

Widely considered the finest surviving example of early Greek sculpture in the round, the so-called Mozia Charioteer above demonstrates the virtuosity and creativity attained in the arts of Sicily during the 5th century B.C.

"Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome" presents 145 objects that bear witness to the athletic and military victories, religious rituals, opulent lifestyles, and intellectual attainments that shaped Classical culture at its peak.

To settlers from the Greek mainland, Sicily was a new world of wealth and opportunity. Beginning in the late 8th century B.C., they founded colonies along the shores of the island they called Sikelia. Over time, young transplants from Greece proudly came to regard themselves as Sikeliotes—Sicilian Greeks. They brought their dialects and religious cults, transforming a land populated by native communities and North African settlers from Carthage into an important Greek territory. Abundant natural resources and fruitful crops fed a thriving economy that soon turned colonial towns into some of the most formidable and influential city-states in the Mediterranean.

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