The Quattrocento in 3-D

Great piece on today’s WSJ Leisure and Arts page by contributor Karen Wilkin, looking at a new exhibit at the Louvre focusing on the art of the early Rennaissance.

Here is one of the key passages:

Say “Italian Renaissance” and we think about works whose idealized naturalism attests to a new fascination with the particulars of the real world and its inhabitants, and, at the same time, to a new appreciation of the art of antiquity. We think about the way forms are modeled with increasing conviction, beginning with Giotto in the 1300s, and about how space is rendered more and more believably, after the invention of mathematical linear perspective in the early 1400s. Together, these associations can suggest a conception of art as a two-dimensional phenomenon that aspired to evoke the appearance of the world we inhabit by fictive means—in other words, “Italian Renaissance” can seem synonymous with painting.

QuattroBlame Leonardo da Vinci for this. Though he made sculpture occasionally, the legendary polymath was convinced of the superiority of painting. “Painting requires more thought and skill and it is a more marvelous art than sculpture,” he wrote in his notebooks in the late 1400s. Why? Painting can depict the ephemeral and the transparent, where sculpture cannot. Sculptural form is physically articulated and depends upon the way light falls upon those articulations, while painting can present the effect of sculptural form, illuminated in any way the painter wishes, on a flat surface. Sculpture is literal; painting is an illusion.

Leonardo’s convictions are challenged by the provocative, informative exhibition “The Springtime of the Renaissance: Sculpture and the Arts in Florence 1400-1460,” seen first in Florence and now at the Louvre. The show concentrates on sculpture, which the curators describe as “the art that flowered first and more than any other” during the extraordinary period of exploration, invention, discovery and creativity that Giorgio Vasari baptized the “rebirth” of culture in Florence. The exhibition’s thesis is that sculpture led the way, in the first half of the quattrocento, providing a means both for assimilating the influence of classical antiquity—which was known chiefly through sculpture—and for translating that influence into a new language.

About Mark Yost
Mark Yost is the author of the Rick Crane Noir series, published by Stay Thirsty Press. Rick Crane is the classic, anti-hero private eye in the spirit of Sam Spade and Jim Rockford. He works in the unmistakably noirish underworld of Upstate New York, running errands and fixing problems for Jimmy Ricchiati Sr., one of Upstate New York's most notorious crime bosses. But readers quickly learn that deep down, Rick Crane is one of the good guys. "Cooper's Daughter," the first book in the widely acclaimed series, is a fast-moving tale in which a heartbroken father comes to Rick and asks him to find out what really happened to his daughter, who was murdered and the details buried in the Unsolved Crimes File of the local police department. The second book in the series is "Jimmy's Nephew," which begins with the death of Joey "Boom Boom" Bonadeo, an up-and-coming boxer and the nephew of Rick's underworld boss. What starts out as a routine investigation turns into a case that will test Rick's faith -- in the Catholic Church and his fellow man. Book No. 3 in the series, "Mary's Fate" is due out in August 2015. Mark Yost also writes for The Wall Street Journal Arts in Review page, as well as the Book Review section. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America -- Midwest Chapter, International Thriller Writers, and a number of other author groups. He is also a member of the Amazon Author's Program. Mark lives in the Loyola neighborhood of Chicago, but he and his son, George, call the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn "home."

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