Tuesday, September 2, 2008

If It Ain't Baroque...

On Sunday I went to the Getty with my museum pal, Hayley. We were both so excited to hear about a new exhibit on Bernini, the rockstar of 17th-Century Baroque sculpture. (“And why haven’t we all heard of Bernini if he’s so famous?” you may be wondering. Well, most of his work is in the city of Rome, and there it stays. Even to find him in the western hemisphere is rare.)

My favorite portrait at the exhibit was the only one Bernini ever produced without a commission, of a woman named Costanza Bonarelli. I love the intimacy and immediacy of this portrait. Look at how her lips are parted, gasping in fright, as if we barged in on her getting dressed! Her collar delicately floats undone on her chest and her hair is a bit disheveled. It’s as though she’s about to speak, to engage with the viewer. Bernini…I’m telling you. He's a genius.

And also kind of a creep.

This woman was Bernini’s lover. Obviously, he’d have to care very much about her to have carved her portrait for his home. But when Bernini found out that Costanza was cheating on him, with his own brother, he hired an assistant to find her and slash her face up with a knife. Ironic that he had already immortalized her beauty in marble, isn’t it? Oh, and did I mention that Costanza was married to one of Bernini’s assistants while she was cheating on him with his brother? And that the Pope himself was asked to intervene in this little spat? DRAMA!

(Isn’t art history fun?)

Go see Costanza at the Getty. She’ll be gone October 27th!!

1 comment:

Jared ~::44::~ said...

Love it. See? All the BEST art has a crazy story behind it. Good ole Vinnie G knew that painting sunflowers didn't get you famous. So he threw a daub of crazy in there, and now look! I can have his paintings printed on my credit card! These guys knew what they were doing ;)