The distinguished old master dealer, Robert Simon, held his first exhibition of a contemporary artist this past November and December. Entitled The Third Rome : Allegorical Landscapes of the Modern City, it was devoted to the current work of Pamela Talese, a Brooklyn-based painter known for her haunting views of gritty industrial sites around the Navy Yard and Red Hook. Brought to Rome for the first time in twenty-two years by a fellowship at the American Academy and following up a suggestion by an architectural historian she met there, she began to explore more recent neighborhoods outside the historical center. By “more recent,” I mean areas developed in the 1920s and 1930s, that is, the Fascist Era. Exploring the neighborhoods on her bicycle with her painting box and folding easel strapped on, Ms. Talese felt attracted to certain buildings that stood out for their clean, simple lines and elegant design. These were prime examples of Fascist architecture—modest, functional residential edifices, utilitarian civic structures, and a few public buildings. Virtually none of these appear in the surveys of Fascist architecture—with one notable exception, the Foro Italico (formerly called the Foro Mussolini).
Bernini Sculpting in Clay
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
October 3, 2012 – January 6, 2013
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth
February 3 – April 14, 2013
Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) dazzled his contemporaries and dominated …
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.
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.
Woody Allen is in Rome shooting his latest production, The Bop Decameron. Italian newspapers have been brimming with “Where’s Woody?” stories, and tourists and citizens have been tweeting their sightings. Woody is very popular in Italy and while this is his first Rome-set picture, he has been a frequent visitor in the past with his New Orleans jazz band. in tow. The Bop Decameron will be structured into four vignettes, two of which will be in Italian. Yesterday, Woody shot at Piazza Mattei with a predominantly Italian cast and crew. Jim Jarmusch used the same location in the Rome segment of Night on Earth, starring Roberto Benigni, who is also signed on for The Bop. Other cast members include: Penélope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, and Woody Allen himself.
The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna follows up a Burne-Jones retrospective it hosted twenty-five years ago with a hundred pre-Raphaelite works illustrating the influence of Italian art on Victorian England. Formed in London in 1848, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, like the Impressionists, felt challenged by photography and the emerging science of color. Whereas the Impressionists took to the fields, the Pre-Raphaelites closed themselves in a private, inner world of nostalgia. They staunchly opposed the academy as they strove to recapture pre-Renaissance ethical sensibilities, assimilating and re-expressing them in the language of modernity. They rejected Raphael because he forsook the truth for ideal beauty. They concluded that the only way forward was to go backward and construct a new grammar with elements of Gothicism, Romanticism, and Classicism, recapturing a Gefühl for nature to counter the devastating effects of “progress” on rural and artisanal life.
"I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.” So sings Don McLean in the 1970 hit written while he was working for the Berkshire School District. The tune has come to immortalize Van Gogh as a stridently independent artist who struggled with sanity and took his life “as lovers often do.” Cornelia Homburg has put together a show in Rome to demonstrate that, pace McLean, the legendary painter did in fact believe the world was meant for him, and he was not that independent in his approach to painting. He may have suffered extreme uncertainty in his private life, but Vincent had a clear vision of his professional goals and how he was going to achieve them.
Five minutes’ walk from St Peter’s, in a quaint hole-in-the-wall on the Via degli Scipioni, is Silvano Agosti’s two-screen cinema – an ex-porn theatre – which boasts a domestic Sony DVD projector (operated by magical remote control) through which the proprietor showcases his very own bootleg video editions against a dark grey board. “Dove il cinema è arte,” reads the picture house’s unpretentious tagline (“Where cinema is art”).