Tag Archives: botticelli

Florence, Day 17: Awaiting My Sweetie

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Art, food, wine, coffee, museums, history … fKeep it coming, Florence! I’m loving it!

I’m a bit baffled that it has already been 17 days. Time does indeed fly. My husband is en route to join me as I type this, and I am truly excited about that.

Being in the moment is the only cure for time flying. You really only have right now. Right now, I’m sitting in my freshly cleaned (if a bit wilted) apartment, with a pleasant warm breeze floating in as day turns to night. I can see a magnificent sky as the sun contemplates setting. I’m enjoying a glass of Chianti and dark chocolate, thinking about making that Caprese salad I’m going to enjoy in a bit, with basil I’ve been growing on my windowsill. I had hopes of cooking while I was here, but why? The food out there is too good and easy to come by, so rarely do I eat at home.

Tomorrow night I will take my love to either the Piazza Michelangelo or Fiesole to watch this grand display and let someone else prepare the food. Tonight, however, I will rest up; before you know it, I will be a “tour guide” sharing “my” city with my sweetie.

But it is not my city. I’m just an admirer here, a passerby, like so many who come here to Florence to study, to visit and to let the extreme grandeur of its past wash over our present in hopes of making a better tomorrow. That is why we come, to brush elbows with a truly epic time in history when some of the world’s all0time greatest minds were here in this, not-so-big Tuscan town. In the span of just over 200 years, this city, truly — without putting them on this pedestal I warn of — was home to genius. Dante, Galileo, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Giotto, Donatello and Botticelli to name just a few. Poets, writers, painters, sculptors and all artists have been drawn here ever since. So does the city rub off on you? Of course. But still, it is a pilgrimage. You have to remember, everywhere you go, there you are.

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To the far left, that tiny figure sitting along the wall — that’s me, working!

So today, there I was. I’m still more a studio painter than a plein air one. There is nothing like being outside, but it is more difficult — to get comfortable, to have what you need, to work with ease. Francesca is a great teacher and she pushes me.

Today we went to the Arno to paint the river and the Ponte Vecchio. We alternated between the view along the edge of the river and the comfort of the park nearby.

I don’t, I feel, do my best work in plein air. It’s ideas, feelings; I’m planting the seeds of that will sprout later in my studio. But it was lovely, a “romanticized” thing to do, to sit along the River Arno and create.

I’m working differently here; the architecture of a city and the smaller sizes require more detail, more study. It is, after all, the Florentine way. Francesca, though, is all about the feeling and less concerned about detail, a perfect way to wrap up my Florence study.

Tomorrow I am off from “school” to pick up my hubby at the airport and settle him in. I will take a few more breaks from blogging as well. For everything there is a season.

As I sit here reflecting, I wonder, what were the trips that changed or most influenced you? I know there are many stories out there because places are like people — they affect you!

The sky tonight from my apartment!

The sky tonight from my apartment!

Florence, Day 11: Dodging Pedestals in the Face of Greatness

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Looking how I was feeling after my class in the Uffuzi Gallery Michelangelo room.

How does a modern day Florentine find his or her own identity in the shadows of so many geniuses? I asked my teacher Benedetta. “Yes, it is hard,” she replied. “I have heard of artists who come here to Florence and never work again, completely crippled by the grandeur of all those masters.”

Today, my teacher, very sweet and humble, said, “Today you will discover my secret. My father is the director of the Uffizi.” She introduced me (swoon) to a handsome man in his early 60s without a trace of pretense. He proudly showed me photos of his three beautiful daughters and wife and I’m thinking, “Um, yes, nice, but can we talk about those stacks of books on your desk? Tell me about your work? What does the director of the Uffuzi do? Can I see the ‘Birth of Venus’ without the glass? Touch it? Let’s get a photo.” But no, I had respect. I simply shook his hand and said, “So nice to meet you,” then did my best not to flood sweet Benedetta with questions about his work.

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I had to sneak this photo of the director’s office. Look at all of these books! My nightstand at home looks like a mini version of his desk. (Swoon)

The Vasari corridor as seen from the Uffizi.

The Vasari corridor as seen from the Uffizi.

Soon, that was not hard, as she is a brilliant and interesting art historian in her own right; her father must be proud. She walked me through Florence in the form of paintings from the 14th to the 17th centuries. I watched the works unfold before the Renaissance, with the strong gold leaf backgrounds and flat figures, to the time when slowly the details emerged. The bodies became 3D, the faces gained expression, the backgrounds became landscapes and the Renaissance exploded in all its full-blown glory.

We walked right through Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael’s High Renaissance until we ended with Caravaggio and the Baroque period, with its exaggerated expression and extreme lights and darks.

 

Turns out I'm not the only one completely enchanted by Botticelli.

Turns out I’m not the only one completely enchanted by Botticelli.

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Caravaggio’s “Bacchus”: Gotta love a country that honors the God of Wine. I’ve always loved this painting.

I learned about many of the things that influenced these movements. For example, Michelangelo was in Rome when they uncovered many statues from the Hellenistic period. He was deeply influenced by the extreme gesture and emotion of these works. His own work becoming more filled with expression at this time.

Benedetta and I took a small break on the lovely rooftop cafe with a view of the Duomo as we were finishing up. The legs tire and the mind can hardly comprehend. It’s all almost too much, too much beauty all in one place, too much excitement. One needs to pause to take it in, but then you’re staring at the Duomo, and again you must catch your breath.

This is what I mean when I say you must somehow find your place and keep these geniuses of art off their well-deserved pedestals. You can get psyched out. It might be easy to feel very small, but you must find your own place in the folds of history — maybe not as a famous person but as one of value, as we all are.

I think it must be a certain kind of pressure for Florentine artists, and indeed Benedetta pointed out that in Mannerism, which followed the Renaissance, there was this anxiety for artists to try to paint after this huge and brilliant time where art absolutely blossomed and flourished under the skill of so many huge talents.

I guess you just do as the famous Contemporary artist Chuck Close says: “Show up and get to work.” Yes, I think I will just continue to show up and see what else this city will reveal to me!

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And let us not forget the culinary arts!