Author Archive: Daniel B. Gallagher

Daniel B. Gallagher

Daniel Gallagher has taught philosophy and theology and is the author of numerous articles in metaphysics and aesthetics. He is particularly interested in the overlapping issues of classical, medieval, and modern theories of beauty and art. A catholic priest, Monsignor Gallagher is currently stationed at the Vatican.

The New Contemporary at the Art Institute of Chicago. Reopened December 2015.

Jasper Johns. Alphabet, 1959. The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection. © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

For a museum that bills itself encyclopedic, the Art Institute of Chicago was long lacking a comprehensive contemporary section to complete its smorgasbord of the world’s greatest art. Last April, plastics tycoon Stefan T. Edlis and his wife Gael Neeson changed all that with a gift of forty-four pieces by such recognized names as Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and several others. These works are currently on display in the Modern Wing of what TripAdvisor has dubbed “the world’s best museum.” The Institute’s pledge to display the works rather than pack them away was “an offer I could not refuse,” Edlis stated, leaving him and the general public equally happy. Edlis, although still in good health, wanted worthy homes for his extensive collection while still alive. These forty-four works now rest comfortably on the “Big Shoulders” of his adopted hometown.

Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel: Celebrating Five Hundred Years of the Greatest Vision of Hope

prawled across the east wing that stretches from the papal residence to the Vatican Museums is an inscription commemorating one of Pope Julius II’s most important contributions to the complex now known as the Apostolic Palace: IULIUS II PONT MAX LIGURUM VI PATRIA SAONENSIS SIXTI IIII NEPOS VIAM HANC STRUXIT PONT COMMODITATI. The text is ambiguous in that “VI” may signify the ablative case of the word vis meaning power or strength, or it may stand for the Roman numeral “6.” If the former, it indicates that Julius was the sixth pope from Liguria, the others being Innocent IV (1243-1254), Hadrian V (1276), Nicholas V (1447–1455), Sixtus IV (1471–1484), and Innocent VIII (1484–1492). If the latter, it refers to the indomitable Ligurian spirit that put Julius on the throne of Peter.

Shakespeare in Rome: Come vi piace at the Silvano Toti Globe Theatre

If you ever need proof of Shakespeare’s universal appeal, stop by Rome’s Globe Theatre. Within a single evening you’ll be convinced that the Bard, disarmed of dactylic hexameters, can still speak to everyone and anyone.

All the more so to Italians when it comes to As You Like It (Come vi piace). Their temperament — irascible, passionate, effusive — stands opposite that of the English but squares precisely with what Shakespeare wanted to lampoon in this subtle masterpiece. Rosalind (Melania Giglio) is so sickly in love with Orlando (Daniele Pecci) that she can barely maintain her act as “Ganymede” in his presence. Duke Frederick (Nicola D’Eramo) hates his brother (also played by D’Eramo) so fiercely that anyone who reminds him of Duke Senior is mindlessly banished from the dukedom. Silvius (Patrizio Cigliano) dotes on Phebe (Barbara Di Bartolo) so cloyingly that the audience would gladly join her in strangling him if only he weren’t so hysterically funny. Each character is a caricature of Italian emotional excess, and no one can make fun of emotional excess better than the excessively emotional Italians.

Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus, Detroit Institute of Arts, through February 12th

Head of Christ, Rembrandt van Rijn, oil on oak panel, c. 1648-50. Staatliche Museen Preussicher Kulturbesitz, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.

Since fully reopening five years ago after a magnificent renovation and expansion project, the Detroit Institute of Arts has emerged as the premiere institution when it comes to displaying and labelling artworks for the twenty-first-century public. Pieces in the permanent collection are labeled with clear, concise descriptions that encourage visitors to look closely but to think for themselves. They provide essential information without insulting the viewer’s intelligence. It is not uncommon to see complete strangers, often with disparate backgrounds in art, standing in front of a picture and discussing it at length. You cannot help but come away from the DIA feeling you have engaged art rather than having absorbed a lot of information about art.

Il primato dei Toscani nelle ‘Vite’ del Vasari. Basilica inferiore di San Francesco (Arezzo). Until 9 January 2012.

Vasari’s partiality toward Tuscan artists may have been for good reason. Classicism had become the standard, and nobody did classicism better than the Tuscans. By the time Vasari wrote the Lives, the Tuscans, unlike the Venetians and Flemish, were already showing signs of a “school” rather than merely a distinct “style.” Of all the major art centers in Europe, Florence was the most international, combining the best techniques available from north to south. Having perfected the art of representation, they only needed someone to put its rules into some kind of order.

Filippino Lippi e Sandro Botticelli nella Firenze del ‘400, Scuderie del Quirinale

Filippino Lippi was able to paint his way out of a disreputable birth (his father was a Carmelite monk and his mother an Augustinian nun), but he wasn’t able to paint his way into history books as well as his mentor and studio-mate Sandro Botticelli. This is all the more striking since Sandro’s popularity was in decline after his spiritual crisis at the turn of the century, whereas Filippino, endowed with tanto ingenio and a vaghissima e copiosa invenzione, as Vasari tells us, was hardly able to keep up with commissions.

Lorenzo Bartolini: Scultore del bello naturale

The rebellion against French academicism in the nineteenth century was carried out from several angles. A variety of new themes, subjects, and techniques were used as ammunition, and the expanding international market widened the battlefield. It was more than a two-sided contest between “conformists” and “non-conformists,” for there were multiple camps of non-conformists each of whom eventually found something else to cling to.

Vasari, gli Uffizi e il Duca

Before entering this exhibition, take the time to examine the building that houses it. Study its façade at close range and from the opposite bank of the Arno. Contemplate its severe, stately economy. Notice the columns that seem to support more weight than they should. Allow your eye to scan the stretch of monolithic architraves, the repetitious ordering of portals. Only then will you begin to appreciate that the core of this exhibit is not in the Uffizi, it is the Uffizi.

A tip for our readers: How to get the most out of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review for the Arts.
What if I hate reading on computer screens, even tablets?
We get occasional inquiries from readers about whether we plan to launch a print edition of our arts journals. The answer is that we've given it some thought, and we're still thinking about it.
It is not only our older readers who object to reading them online. There are even some millennials who would rather read from paper. One of our readers got the simple idea of using the sites as sophisticated tables of contents. She prints out each article on three-hole paper and files them in a loose-leaf album. I've devoted a lot of time to finding the very best print and pdf facility there is. Just click on one of the icons at the top right of the article and print!
Click here to make your tax-deductible donation to The Arts Press, publisher of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review. Or click on the notice in the sidebar. The Arts Press is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of The Arts Press must be made payable to“Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.