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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Bernini the Mage and Master of Space


While I work on my novel in which the great Renaissance sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini plays a leading role, I'm looking at images of his work. I stumbled on a  wonderful article on the three major sculptors of the time -- really, of all time. Bernini, of course, was one.

The author. Charley Parker, calls him "the mage, the sorcerer, the Vermeer of sculpture". He says, "If Vermeer was master of light and time, Bernini was master of space." I love those epithets, especially the mage. He was such a showman, and loved to used theatrical effects that created illusions to make the sculptural subjects live and breathe.

Bernini dominated the Roman art world of the seventeenth century, and he was restlessly innovative, ultimately playing a key role in establishing the dramatic and eloquent vocabulary of the Baroque style. His sculptural and architectural projects combine forms and media in electrifying new ways. A magician indeed.

When I saw Bernini's statue of David at the Galleria Borghese, I was as struck as if that stone David was winding up had been flung at me. The life in the sculpture is amazing -- equaled only by Michelangelo's Moses, I thought. Both Biblical figures by these master contain a mythic power, and they do it with elegant realism.

The Moses was a revelation. This photo (below) doesn't capture the quality. In fact, you have to see these sculptures in person to have the full impact. Video is better than stills, but the quality of light, the ability to walk around them and absorb all details puts the whole picture together in a way nothing else can. I was lucky to see them in person. Bernini was lucky to have such a gift.

If you have a chance, go to Rome. There's no other city like it because of the Renaissance and Bernini.
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