In Roberto Cuoghi’s 2006 portrait of Davide Halevim, one of the highlights of the section entitled “Representations of Mortality,” Halevim is covered in leaves, dirt, and twigs; his face is discolored; and rigor mortis appears to have set in. But Halevim was alive (and still is) when Cuoghi made this depiction of the Milan-based collector. To create this work, part of the artist’s series of portraits of art-world figures begun in 2001, Cuoghi made a cast of Halevim’s face, buried it in his garden to let the process of decomposition run its course, and then photographed the results.
Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution 1968–2008 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
January 4th, 2010
November 30th, 2009
Born in Antwerp in 1554, Bril was working in Italy at the end of the century, where his landscapes marked the transition between what Paolucci called the “autumn of Mannerism” of the Renaissance and the birth of the Baroque style. The change was enormous, and Bril is acknowledged as among its authors.
August 6th, 2009
When its doors first opened in 1734, the Capitoline Museum, which stands upon the hilltop that is the very heart of Rome, was one of the first European public museums and a favorite haunt of the wealthy Grand Tourists from all over Europe. As of July 30 this venerable museum offers something novel to all tourists—a chance for a fresh look at a relatively neglected period of Roman history and the arts, the Middle Ages.
by David Loftus
June 29th, 2009
Not quite a century ago, on August 29, 1911, thousands of people began flocking to the Louvre (among them, Franz Kafka and his friend Max Brod) to gaze at a blank space on a wall. The 49-acre Louvre – still the largest museum in the world today – had been closed for most of the preceding week for the investigation of a singular occurrence: the most famous painting in the world had disappeared from that blank spot.
March 22nd, 2009
2009 is officially “The Year of Astronomy,” commemorating Galilei’s first observation of the Moon through his telescope in November of 1609. Born in Pisa, Galileo Galilei worked in Florence, where the fourth centennial of his discovery is being celebrated with a stunning and sophisticated exhibition which took four years to prepare.
March 3rd, 2009
Nevertheless, in my personal library there are 130 books on Pompeii. Of all these, this is the one I would choose to read first.
The Patron’s Payoff: Conspicuous Commissions in Italian Renaissance Art by Jonathan K. Nelson and Richard J. Zeckhauser
February 4th, 2009
No less than the American financier who donates a museum wing on condition it bears his name, or the merchandiser who endows a university institute named for him, the results of Renaissance patronage had to be, first of all, highly visible.
by David Lida
January 6th, 2009
If we are what we eat, then Marcella Hazan, the author of what are often recognized as the best six Italian cookbooks ever published in English, has been writing her autobiography since 1973. That is the year when The Classic Italian Cookbook, her first effort, saw the light of day. Thirty-five years later, with increasingly sophisticated recipe books, restaurants and food industries in the United States, it is hard to remember how groundbreaking Hazan’s work has been.
by Elinor Teele
December 3rd, 2008
Ah, Casanova. Men want to be him, and women want to be with him. Or is it the other way around? He’s Romeo with cojones, Bond without the Beretta, a man more sinned with than sinning. In the annals of sexual conquest, there has seldom been a more entertaining and knowing chronicler. Casanova, according to Casanova, was a legend.
November 30th, 2008
A famous double portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds shows members of the Dilettanti Society sipping away while making rude gestures about vaginas while holding up gemstones from classical antiquity and admiring painted Greco-Roman vases.
July 1st, 2008
The confrontation between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was to the Italians the “political, intellectual, and moral equivalent of the first U.S. moon landing; and as a European I am stuck down here on earth watching the Yankee space ship make its landing way up there,” Valli wrote.
April 28th, 2008
Some say that the story of the Kingdom of Fanes is an epic that goes back to the Bronze Age in the Dolomites. How could such a story come down to us? No one in those parts knew writing, three thousand years ago or more. We don’t even know what languages people spoke then in the Dolomites. And what kind of kingdom could that have been?
February 14th, 2008
A favourite theme which recurred again and again in wall paintings was the satyr creeping up behind a nymph to catch her by surprise. In at least one case the nymph, her veil ripped away, turns out to be a hermaphrodite, to the satyr’s theatrical dismay, and the observer’s amusement. Some wall paintings showed homosexual sex and, because African motifs were popular, another depicted picnicking pygmies enjoying a group orgy under a tent.
February 7th, 2008
Filettino was not always a happy place, in history or in fiction. In the time of the Caesars the people here were Aequi, an Italic tribe of rough herders whom the Romans subdued with difficulty. For many centuries, probably millennia, the Aequi practiced transhumance, leading their herds over the Serra in late autumn to spend the winter in pastures in the Liri valley far below, and returning to the uplands for summer.
January 10th, 2008
I did not know that Neanderthals once lived hereabouts; that farmers first settled here six thousand years ago; that nearby, down on the Campagna, the Gauls defeated the Romans in 390 B.C. before going on to take Rome itself. I knew dimly that the Allied forces had fought the Wehrmacht in these parts in 1944, but not that the day before the Americans took Marcellina, the Germans rounded up all the village men they could find and shot them in reprisal for the killing of two German grenadiers.
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