Venetian Painting At The National Gallery; Ravishingly Beautiful Visions of Reli

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 28th, 2010

The new show that is installed at The National Gallery of Art, ?Bellini, Giorgione, Titian and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting,? presents us, not only with ravishing beauty, but with the vision of a time when apparently religion and nudity were easygoing companions. For instance, at one stroke of the brush, that genius of color, light, and form, Giorgione, could render ?The Adoration of the Shepherds,? and with another stroke of his brilliance his "Portrait of a Woman," with her seductively bared breast.

What are we to think as we behold such comfortable camaraderie between subjects that, in our own time, are at really quite opposite ends of the usual sense of propriety?

We cannot but help ask ourselves if there really was a time when the ways of man to God, in terms of pious depiction, and the ways of God to man, in terms of bodily design, were comfortably inviting to the same artists and, even more astonishingly, approvable by the religious and royal personages on whom they relied for their brushes and bread.

And, in light of these beautifully refreshing visions, what are we to think of the current separation of conservative church and revealing art?

Dare we acknowledge the riveting idea that religion at its truest must accommodate itself with reverence, not only for the unseen but for life as we see it has been created, clothed for ancient shame or social courtesy but also naked as the day it was born?

While such a vision may seem radical to our immoderately tempered sensibilities, it was apparently quite wholesome way back around 1500.

And that perception bares questions that much of the contemporary world prefers to clothe with silence.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
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