Thursday, May 23, 2013

Italian Baroque (pt. 4)

But now for the definitive Italian artist of this period in art history: Bernini.  It was Bernini who, together with Boromini, defined Baroque art.  The two hated each other, but they found themselves needing to work together on occasion.  Bernini was skilled from youth.  When he was just eight years old he was brought before the pope to do a sketch.  His career flourished in his later life, but his personal happiness was questionable.  That Bernini's wife had an affair with his brother is one of the most scandalously famous of the artist's tribulations in life.
Bernini's David was perhaps his masterpiece.  We have already looked at two other famous David statues.  One took place before the action of killing Goliath (Michelangelo's), where the young boy is looking ahead at the giant, preparing to approach and kill the Philistine.  The second (Donatello's) showed the scene after the slaying of Goliath, with David casually resting on top of the Philistine's dismembered head.  Bernini's statue captures the action during the actual fight scene.  Doesn't get more dramatic than this.
The theme of the sculpture is movement.  David's body is twisting in space, ready to hurl the stone at Goliath.  His determined facial expression and flexed muscles demonstrate his intent on killing the enemy of Israel.  The dramatic action makes you visualize the scene.  The statue is also especially circumferential; the viewer can follow the action around the statue a full 360 degrees.  David's body is bent such, and the sling twists around with his flowing clothes.  Bernini's David is like the Discuss Thrower of Ancient Greece, emphasizing action and excitement.  And just look at the determination on David's face.

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