FACADES and In the Light of Naples
I find myself in this position every year. Slightly disenchanted and very sleepy. I wish I could impart a cure for this phenomenon, but I haven’t quite figured it out yet. However, I do have some ways to deal with the stress of the winter slump and make days go a little smoother — coping mechanisms, if you will. One of which is best known as escapism. Is it healthy? I’m not sure, probably not. but sometimes imagining myself with strawberry-stained fingers on sunny summer afternoons makes the dreariness a little more bearable, and I’m ok with that.
FACADES: Photographs by Markus Brunetti, could not have been brought to my attention at a more perfect time. The exhibit was on view this past fall at the Chazen Museum of Art. It was composed of Brunetti’s microscopically detailed photographs of monumental buildings around Europe. With patience and precision, the artist takes thousands of photos of these structures and composes them into a singular photograph; a masterpiece. Come close to any of the pieces in the exhibit and you will see the manifestation of this process: cracks in stone, uneven brick placement, and subtle changes in color. FACADES served as both a showcase of Brunetti’s raw talent and a testament to monumental architecture. He purposefully captures gray, cloudy skies to allow the viewer to focus in on the minute details of the structures. Among my favorites were the haunting French Gothic Amiens, Cathedral Notre-Dame and the vibrant Portuguese Cortegaça, Paróquia de Santa Marinha.
As someone who has seen some of these facades in person, I can say that although being in front of these architectural wonders is a truly unique experience, Brunetti’s photographs are the closest you can come to recreating that awe and magic. Strolling through the exhibit simultaneously elicits nostalgia and discovery, comfort and excitement, sensation and contemplation.
If you missed FACADES, do not fret. There is still ample time to see the exhibit that replaced it, In The Light of Naples: The Art of Francesco de Mura. De Mura’s fantastical paintings often depict biblical or classical scenes, usually in ways that will make you reconsider your stance on boring, antiquated art. His late-Baroque style incorporates dreamy, soft depictions of well-known Christian scenes, but with a lightweight, airy feel. One of the things I most appreciate about his work are the bursts of color de Mura uses throughout his pieces. Look carefully around the exhibit and you will notice the robin’s egg blues, bright roses, and melted golds in nearly all of the works.
As the title of the exhibit suggests, de Mura was a master at using light and color in his art, creating paintings that were ethereal and elegant but also ventured into gaudy, like the works of his Rococo contemporaries. Among the standout pieces are The Annunciation, which features a bewildered Mary being confronted by an angel, and The Glory of the Princes or Allegory of the Virtues of King Carlo di Borbone. The cloudy backdrop and cherubs scattered throughout the former make for a dramatic and dazzling work of art. The latter’s heavenly scene contains rich colors and a host of divine figures, each one demanding to be inspected individually.
We’re getting closer to the warm embrace of spring and there is a light, faint as it may be, at the end of the metaphorical tunnel. But in the meantime, stop by the Chazen and leave your anxieties outside. Experience a sampling of the beauty the world has to offer, even if only for a half hour.