Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bernini exhibit at the Getty

For those with at interest in sculpture who happen to be in or visiting the Los Angeles area, there's an exhibition of works by the Italian Baroque master Gian Lorenzo Bernini at the Getty Museum that you may wish to visit. Bernini is considered one of the great sculptors of Western art.

From a WSJ article on the exhibit:
What [art historian] Wittkower had in mind was not just the hypnotically realistic portrait busts now on display at the Getty Museum. He was also thinking of the many larger and more challenging works of sculpture and architecture that Bernini either carved or designed over a remarkably prolific career of almost 70 years.

(Bernini's sensuous portrait bust of Costanza Bonarelli, reputed to be the sculptor's mistress, and on display at the Getty exhibit. Credit: Wall St. Journal)

As chief architect of St. Peter's in Rome, he was commissioned by one of the five popes he worked for (and one of six popes he sculpted) to design and build the 94-foot-high Baldacchino that raises its twisted bronze columns over the main altar. A second pope paid him to design the theatrical explosion that stands behind it, as well as the colossal colonnade that forms St. Peter's Square. He was responsible for four of Rome's most famous fountains, several monumental tombs, a number of churches and chapels and many full-length marble statues, including at least half a dozen masterpieces.

When I studied art history way back in college, I took a course on Baroque art, and remember thinking that much of Bernini's work had such a sublime beauty to it. Perhaps occasionally overwrought (and certainly so in comparison to Renaissance-era sensibilities), but moving in its immediacy and expressiveness.

The exhibition is Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture, on now through October 26th.

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