17 June 2008

Need Art? We've Got It!

It has been a grand week for art in our world, as we have been to a number of galleries (not all the same ones) as a group. Tomorrow, many of us will be heading over to the Vatican Museums, and I'm excited about some of their rooms. Most of these museums do not allow photography, but they do have a few of the major pieces listed on their websites. Two of my favorite galleries are also in my favorite part of the city, a large green space full of fun, trees, scenery, a dog park, a zoo, and lots of people relaxing, the Villa Borghese.

The National Museum of Modern Art that Mia and I visited this afternoon is a well-orchestrated museum with pieces guaranteed to make you feel a little uncomfortable (don't worry, that's the point), others that will make you smile, and some that might make you say hmmmm. I was delighted with the collection, which boasts some name-worthy pieces (the Klimt, a Kandinsky, Pollock, an impressive collection of Duchamp, Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, etc.) as well as some without big names but provocative work. Mia and I were delighted to see a different type of art--the statuary and religious and pagan art that are in many of the museums are impressive, but this was a radical departure. I particularly enjoy some of the later and more experimental pieces, so this was a really great museum for me.

For some of the best of the statuary and earlier traditional artwork, one does well to make an appointment to see the collection (also in the Villa Borghese) at the Borghese Galleries. Some of our students favorites included the pieces by Caravaggio (they have several), the large Bernini statues Apollo & Daphne and the Rape of Persephone, and a number (I counted no fewer than six) of representations of the rape of Leda. Cheerful myths, all reminding us that we must submit to the gods. Funny how it's always the women who have to submit, isn't it? In any case, the collection is impressive, the museum is curated very well, and the parquet, marblework, and frescoes are not to be missed.

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Works Cited

Fiona Wild, ed. Eyewitness Travel Rome (London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 1993), 2007 edition.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Marble Faun. New York: Penguin Books, 1990/1860.

James, Henry. Daisy Miller. New York: Penguin Books, 2005/1878.

Powers, Alice Leccese. Italy in Mind: An Anthology. Toronto: Vintage Books, 1997.

Steves, Rick. Rick Steves' Italy 2007. New York: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2006.