Tag Archives: Art in situ

Bernini’s Saint Teresa: ecstasy made of marble

We’re all bombarded daily with urgent demands: buy now! renew now! click now! save the environment!  save your soul!  I too have a demand for you and while it won’t whiten your teeth, update the virus protection on your computer, or reward you with salacious celebrity gossip, it’s truly urgent: get yourself to Rome.  Walk rapidly, dodging Vespas with a […]

Guess where?

We’re headed to the airport on our way to see outrageously excellent art and architecture, six UNESCO Word Heritage sights and an opera.  Guess where?   Our cat Janacek is providing a hint below:  

The Isenheim Altarpiece: a tormented, mystical and ecstatic crucifixion in a nauseatingly cute town

It’s Good Friday and I’m thinking about the pilgrimage we made to see the Isenheim Altarpiece, the bizarre crucifixion by Matthias Grunewald in Colmar, France.  This is a perfect example of an artwork I couldn’t comprehend until I saw it in person. The altarpiece was created in 1512-1515 for a hospital that treated patients suffering from skin diseases, […]

The cloister of Monreale Cathedral

There’s a certain reaction I have, when looking though an art history book, an “Aha, there you are!” recognition that’s–let’s face it– a sense of entitlement.  I study the reproduction of a building or artwork and say to myself with certainty,  “I am going to go see that.”  Without fail, I have always felt just that […]

Dazzling mosaics in Cappella Palatina, Palermo and–bonus!–bible stories abridged

Every surface in the Cappella Palatina in Palermo (1140-70) is a pristine work of art.  Study the ceiling, the floor, and of course, at the mosaics.  Don’t be rushed.  This is what happens when great cultures—Arab, Norman and Byzantine–combine synergistically to produce the finest art imaginable.   It was created for Sicilian kings to worship in, with […]

Bach’s St. John Passion in Leipzig: celestial voices, unbearable beauty

Listening to Bach’s St. John Passion at St. Thomas church in Leipzig, Germany, was an ethereal and indescribably moving experience.  It was Good Friday and we were in Leipzig to hear the Thomanerchor, the boy’s choir that has been performing sacred music in Leipzig for over 800 years (they board and study in the town).  Johann […]

Cave paintings in Font-de-Gaume

The guide took us through a narrow passage into a dark cave. She lit her flashlight and there it was–a 16,000 year old frieze of bison. So elegant! So confidently painted! We reached the Font-de-Gaume cave in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, Southwestern France, by train from Périgueux, followed by a 3km hike.  While waiting for our reserved […]

The Apocalypse Tapestry in Angers and why I’m glad I’ve studied Revelations

After several hours of gaping in awe at the Apocalypse Tapestry in Angers, France, I kept thinking “Why isn’t this masterpiece world famous?”  Well, perhaps it is famous in France, but in the states you’d need to be a big medieval art nerd to have heard about it. The most likely reason  is it’s a difficult […]

Bayeux tapestry: the best art always wins the battle

I suck at history unless there’s a  great work of art involved.  So, despite a general ignorance of French and British history, I can tell you all about the Battle of Hastings in the year 1066.  Well, I can tell you the perspective as represented in the Bayeux tapestry: one of the best works of […]

Curious capital carvings in Chauvigny

By now you know I have a total ladybone for Romanesque art, most especially Romanesque sculpture.  The column capitals in the Église Saint-Pierre in Chauvigny, France, have been on my must see list for a long time, and they certainly did not disappoint. The good stuff is in the 12 century choir, which was “restored” […]