Art in Italy

Coming into Italy, I was incredibly excited. Not that Germany and Switzerland weren’t amazing because they surpassed my every expectation, but I had been anticipating Italy for the longest time because of what I was taught in high school. I took latin all throughout high school and had learned about the culture and the Roman customs, heres and Gods. I couldn’t wait to step off the train and geek out to the incredible nation of Italy. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was the incredible art from the Renaissance that defined Italy. 

First off the was the Uffizi Gallery, home of the most famous renaissance pieces owned and endorsed by the Medici family. First of all, these museum is huge, we spent about 2 hours in here and still only scratched the surface. Renaissance geniuses like Botticelli and Caravaggio were showcased all throughout this palace. The Birth of Venus is absolutely striking to behold firsthand. The attention to detail and the incredible portrayal of of the goddess of love served to be a standard of beauty after its crew ion. This only goes to show the influence that these artists had on the public at the time. The most striking piece to me, however was Caravaggio’s Medusa, a grotesque and intricately detailed painting on a shield that seems to take you by the eyes and won’t let you go. Very reminiscent of the ancient legends that staring into Medusa’s eyes will turn you to stone. Caravaggio was able to portray this feeling simply with paint. 

We then visited the famous David by Michelangelo. Even though this complete marble statue does attract fame and tourists from all over, let me tell you it is not overhyped. This towering colossus immediately takes your eyes as you turn the corner to see its majesty. The defined muscles and veins capture you and make you question how it is possible to define such features out of a solid block of marble. I can’t comprehend how Michelangelo was able to accomplish this but according to him he isn’t creating these magnificent statues, he is simply liberating these figures out of the marble to achieve their true form. It’s absolutely breathtaking. 

After enjoying the beauty of Florence, we traveled to Rome: a place just waiting for its magnificence to be explored. We went to the Vatican and were absolutely floored. There was incredible in every corner you searched. From the intricate murals on the ceilings of mere corridors, to the genius of Raphael, you can’t walk 30 seconds without your jaw dropping. In the museum of the Vatican, besides the 3 Salvador Dali paintings hanging in a secluded part of the chambers, my favorite piece by far was Raphael’s School of Athens. The masterpiece done by the genius at the time who was the same age as us, if not younger is incredible. Words cannot do this piece justice. I was most struck by the commentary he included in his painting: by painting this piece that portrays the pursuit of knowledge and dedicating it to the Vatican, he was saying that it is the Catholic Church who controlled knowledge and owned it. This in fact was true at the time because the Catholic Church tried to hide the fact the the world was round and that the universe revolved around it. The fact that Raphael was able to get away with this through his art is absolutely incredible. 

These are only a few of the pieces that struck me so powerfully in Italy. There is so much more beauty that I would love to go back and delve into even deeper than I had. I hope you get the chance to see these magnificent pieces firsthand at some point in your life. 

Sincerely, 

Nishanth Sadagopan

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Out of Chaos

One of the most spectacular things to see in Florence, perhaps in the world, is the statue of David, sculpted by Michelangelo. The location of the sculpture is in the Academia museum, sort of in the back. The rest of the museum is filled with lots of paintings of the saints and of Madonna and Child. In fact this was one of the museums that made Madonna and Child a meme on CR10. Any painting we didn’t understand of a woman instantly was labeled as “Madonna and Child” by our group. But I can talk about CR10 memes in another post.

Once we emerged in the hall with David at the end, our jaws dropped. This was it. This was the masterpiece. But there were several other sculptures on the sides of the hall. These sculptures are less famous, probably because they’re incomplete. However, I enjoyed them as much, if not more than the actual statue of David. These incomplete sculptures allowed us to see how Michelangelo’s vision was transferred into marble, how one single slab of rock could be turned into a man. They show humans emerging from the stone, rather than the finished product.

Once we made it to the feet of David and he stood towering over us, we understood how Michelangelo transferred his vision to the piece of rock. It’s amazing how the story of that statue relates to our own lives. Michelangelo was told time and time again that the slab of marble he wanted to use was worthless; that it would never become anything beautiful. But he saw David inside that rock, and new he just had to carve it out.

How many times in our lives do we believe the lie that we’re not good enough? That we won’t reach the beauty we are striving for? I know in my own life, it’s really easy to fall into that trap. But I believe that there is a master sculpture out there that takes one good look at the mess I’ve made of my life and carves out a work of art. I recognize that not everyone believes the same things I do, but isn’t it nice to know that our most disgusting messes can be cleaned up and made beautiful with no more than the vision of that beauty? That’s a thought I find comforting, and the I think that museum was set up the way it was to show us exactly that. We don’t have to be perfect right now; no one expects that. But we all have the potential to be great and to make a lasting impact on the world, even if everything else tells us otherwise. Something spectacular can be made out of the chaos of our lives.

To All Artists, I Love You

If you haven’t been able to tell in my blogs yet, I love art, literature, and most things that reside in the creative world.

That being said, I have basically died and gone to heaven with our venture into Italy. From Florence to Rome I have lived out my long-awaited dream of seeing Renaissance art not just through a screen or pictures, but with my own two eyes. Lucky for me, art lives in every corner and crevice of these cities. And let me tell you… it has not dissapointed.

I see art—visual, linguistic, auditory, theatrical, or anything in between—as the only form that truly explores the human condition. With a mere stroke, or sound, or click on a keyboard, art can open a multitude of doors. Renaissance art, for example, reestablished the faith in humanity, with a unique juxtaposition of knowledge, religion, and nature all in one form—it essentially shaped the era. The art and literature from those centuries evoked prominent change that altered the course of history. Paint did that, chisels did that, words did that. No matter the medium, art has power and the Renaissance is the quintessential example of that.

For a long time, my favorite Renaissance painting has been Raphael’s The School of Athens for many of those exact reasons. It offers us a glimpse of the minds and intellects and hearts and opinions of the people of that century. Knowledge was rising, the desire to learn and understand was alive and well. The famous fresco depicts men like Aristotle and Plato and Ptolemy and Pythagoras all in one scene, gathering to share ideas and learn from one another. It was a long awaited dream of mine to step into the Raphael Rooms and finally see The School of Athens. And I did.

Being led by a lovely tour guide through Vatican City, I was trying my best to stay in the moment, stay calm, and stay focused on the walls around me, yet my mind kept wandering away to this one fresco. I was going to see it, be in its presence. Every corner we turned amped up my excitement. And with our final steps into the Raphael Rooms, my excitement hit a peak and I was overcome by one emotion.

Awe—I felt awe-struck standing in the Raphael Rooms, mouth agape and eyes wide. Surrounded by inspiration and knowledge and culture, I was in shock, overwhelmed, I didn’t even know what to feel. ART. DID. THAT. This man, Raphael, a seventeen-year-old kid from a small Italian city created paintings in the 16th century that still have the capacity to evoke emotion in people today, to evoke emotion in me today. Creativity outlives eras while exploring humanity in its purest form; it’s one of the few things on this earth that never goes old, but always has something to teach. Raphael took philosophy and science and mathematics, and juxtaposed it with beauty and creativity. This birthed a combination of logistic learning and creative endeavors. Additionally, the sociological beliefs of the Renaissance are being SCREAMED from The School of Athens; the people’s ideals and emotions and very lives are being illuminate by strokes of paint on a wall.

Why does this all matter? What’s the point of learning about art? Because art unites people and cultivates an understanding of all kinds of people. Raphael’s paintings show me what its like to be a person in the 15th or 16th century. They show me rationale on their way of thinking and the reasons society acted the way they did. They show me how schools of thought changed through the years and how values shifted and how our world came to be what it is now. Yet also, his paintings show me that I have so much to still learn about people, so much to learn about the walks of lives of people distant from me. These notion expands to every artist of every kind, not just Raphael. Art has the unique ability to show us how different our worlds may be, yet how similar we still are.

Eventually, I walked out of the Raphael Rooms and finally processed what just happened. It was beyond my wildest dreams. Rome’s art has quite literally fulfilled my dreams and outlived my expectations. I never thought I would become teary-eyed in a room of frescoes or gawk at a ceiling far above me. All the things I’ve learned in a classroom or on paper have come to life and, now, I can appreciate them all the more.

Here’s a pic that I forced Abby to take of me geeking out in the middle of the Stanza della Signature. Enjoy.

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Florence, “Florentia” – flowering

Wow!

Before this week, I really had no idea what beauty Florence contained aside from the general grandeur of Italy. But Florence is the city where the Renaissance began, funded by the Medici family, alive with art, architecture, churches, and tourism.

Originally named “Fluentia” for being between two rivers, Florence was later named “Florentia” meaning “flowering.” And wow, Florence sure blooms!

Some CR9 Familia took the time to share some memories of Florence with me, and the art, history, and churches overwhelm, in the best way possible! I cannot wait to visit the Duomo, touching the exterior made of decorative pink, green, and white marble, embracing the architecture and art within the largest dome built in brick and mortar that took two centuries to create. And also, wow, there is a clock made by Paolo Uccello outside the Duomo that ends its 24th hour at sunset everyday without fail. I cannot wait to see that!

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As I was researching the names Jacey, Kendall, Andrea, and Sarah were telling me, I could not stop from being in awe at the sheer culture in Florence created by art. That is something so foreign. How is a whole city centered around art and churches? There is so much richness that I cannot wait to be immersed in with my amazing friends.

Here are some things I can’t wait to do (if we can find them):

  • Stand in the cute, colorful shops held up by stilts on the Ponte Vecchio
    • The only bridge to survive WWII
    • The first bridge built with less than semi circles underneath to support it
  • Analyze and learn from the collections within the Galleria dell’Accademia
    • The David!
  • Be in awe looking at the sculptures inside the Bargello
    • Including works by artists including Donatello, Giambologna and Michelangelo
  • Embrace the Boboli Gardens’ grandeur landscaped with sculptures!
    • I love nature!!
  • Haggle in the leather markets
    • Muster the courage and don’t back down, or just be bold like Sarah G.
  • See the Basilica of San Lorenzo, a church in the center of Florence’s main market district
    • What effect would a church in the middle of a market have? How is the church’s culture affected by the market?
  • Admire Dante’s Church and hopefully hear how Dante and Florence are super connected
    • I definitely have to look more into Dante before going!
    • Wear appropriate clothing covering shoulders and knees
  • Admire the frescoes in the Strozzi Chapel
    • They depict Paradise and Hell according to Dante’s schemes
  • Enjoy Edorado gelato made free from chemicals, GMOs, and colorings
    • Milk from pastured-raised cows and eggs from free-range chickens

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That’s a pretty long list, but Florence has so much to offer! With history spanning centuries, I cannot wait to be immersed in a city created by and for the arts. And by no means do I know a lot about art, but I can appreciate it, and I am so ready to embrace art, and embrace it with friends who are super passionate and know a lot about the art. My goal is to come to a better appreciation for art’s culture, beautifully-crafted churches, and beautifully-crafted people.

While we’re waiting, I looked at some past blogs, and Amorino, a gelato chain in Europe, was mentioned in some. After a little digging, I found the closest Amorino… a bonding trip to Fort Worth’s very own Amorino (2.2mi away from TCU!!) may be in store for the familia! Probably not as good as Europe’s gelato, but a great taste to prepare us for all the goodness in store!

Thanks for reading!

With love,

Lauren Rasmussen