‘Art Has Many Mansions’

[New Yorker caption] “Laura Battiferri,” by Bronzino, circa 1560. Art work © Musei Civici Fiorentini / Museo di Palazzo Vecchio.

The NYTimes, as well, has sumptuous reportage on this exhibit of Medici-sponsored artworks. The portraits have a preternatural technical brilliance that’s otherworldly. “Laura Battiferri,” fingering her legible volume of Petrarch, is a creature contrived from mannerist lunacy.

An interesting wrinkle in Peter Schejeldahl’s review is that he concludes by urging the reader to “head just down the hall” to look at the work of “bohemian demiurge” Alice Neel (1900 – 1984). I’ve seen her painting elsewhere, and indeed it’s blessedly rich with oxygen.

It’s remarkable how an artist long classed as an eccentric outlier has come to seem an Old Master for present sensibilities… A frisson of nakedness infuses even her clothed subjects, whose resilience consists in being fully and, therefore, by Neel’s reckoning, lovably human… Now return to the Medici and imagine their fainting fits, were they exposed to Neel’s principled gaucherie. Art has many mansions. Today, the most compelling tend to the tumbledown.

(Peter Schjeldahl, “Power Players: The Medici at the Met,” thenewyorker.com, July 2021)

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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