Sunday, February 10, 2013

Italian Renaissance (pt. 25)

As far as being able to paint the most beautiful and realistic human figures, Titian is famous for being the artist of the human body.  One of his most famous works is the Venus of Urbino, which I won't post.  But that is an important painting in art history—part of the line of "Venuses" that represent what feminine beauty is supposed to be (remember the Venus of Willendorf?).  It is a nude portrait of the Duke of Urbino's mistress, painted especially for the Duke.  By titling it Venus, it became a reference to Greco-Roman ideals, and so it was acceptable even though it carries undeniable sexual undertones.
This painting is sometimes attributed to Titian and other times to an artist named Giorgione (who was one of the first painters to place importance on landscapes rather than the figures therein).  It's called The Concert.
We see an aristocrat of some sort with a lyre, seated in a most pastoral landscape, facing a shepherd on his left.  Neither man seems to notice the two nude women in front of them, one with a flute and the other pouring a pitcher of water into some type of stone casket.  Do you like the painting?  It's rather mysterious; it's supposed to communicate the air of a dream, with surreal lighting and mythical nymphs walking among the two unsuspecting men.  The title, The Concert, furthermore gives us the feeling that this is meant to be a poetic expression, musical, artistic, perhaps without a clear meaning (opposite of Byzantine art) but purely meant for enjoyment or to provoke thought.  I don't know.  Of a painting like this one C. S. Lewis wrote in his Experiment in Criticism, "To one such spectator [a painting] may be merely an assistance in prurient imagination; he has used it as pornography.  To another, it may be the starting-point for a meditation on Greek myth, which, in its own right, is of value."  I don't think that The Concert is pornographic, but from here on out it becomes sort of a fine line, unfortunately.

No comments:

Post a Comment