Friday, June 17, 2011

Milano - A Rain Day - Part 3 - Winter in Spring

Just prior to the Paladino exhibitions the Palazzo Reale had mounted a retrospective of the work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the Renaissance painter known for his strange portraits made up of vegetables, plants, fruit, sea creatures and tree roots.  Much of his "normal" work has been overshadowed by these fantastical human heads but the Milano exhibition offered a more complete view of the Milanese artist who worked for the Hapsburg as a court painter in Vienna and Prague.

L'inverno (Winter) is one of the four oils on canvas that Arcimboldo created in 1573 devoted to the Seasons. Sadly the series was split up: Winter, Summer and Autumn are found in the Louvre while Spring hangs in the Madrid's Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get up to Milano during the three months it was on but still got a bit of the flavour of Arcimboldo, howbeit at second hand. During the exhibition - and currently - passersby in front of the Piazza Reale were welcomed into the Palazzo Reale not by the madcap Milanese but by an modern artist.  Winter, created in 2010 by American artist Philip Haas,was inspired by L'Inverno, one of a quartet of oils the artist painted in 1573.

Taking as his inspiration not only Acrimboldo's work but also the elaborate decorations for court balls and fetes at the Hapsburg Courts where he served,  Haas created a 4.6 metre (15 feet) high piece in fibre glass. The monumental scale of the sculpture highlights the visual puzzle created by the natural elements - dark, branches, twigs, moss, vines, ivy even straw barriers used in the winter to protect the fruit trees all combine to create an image of a European winter.

I've been thinking about winter a great deal lately and I must admit that neither Arcrimboldo's, rather menacing, version of Old Man Winter nor Haas's, slightly more benign, rethinking have me looking forward to it.

As the blue skies would indicate these pictures where taken the day before my walk in the rain - however as I was strolling umbrella held high through the Piazza del Duomo it was hard to miss it so I did get a second look.

17 giugno - San Ranieri Scacceri

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1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Feh! What the hell do Italians know about winter? NOTHING! You know who the real experts are.