Thanksgiving is over, and a good time to push away from the table, get out of the house and go somewhere different, very different if you can.
I personally would like to go back to Italy, way, way back , to the Renaissance, though not as a lowly plebeian, as I comment in my weekly arts and entertainment observed on public radio KBU 99.1 and select websites everywhere.
No, I would want to be an artist. I’d leave being a cultural critic to others; it had its social and economic limitations, then, as it does now.
Prompting this time travel fantasy are several exhibits at the always engaging Getty, which being in nearby Brentwood I’ve come to regard as the local cultural center. And it’s free.
So if you are a skeptic and don’t believe in being whisked back in time and place, you, like me, also can go the Getty, and at least be beguiled by the exhibits radiating the Renaissance .
Most evocative are the landscapes of the Venice based Giovanni Bellini. Considered a leading exponent of the popular religious themes that dominated painting in the 15th century, Bellini filled his canvases with characters and scenes from familiar sacred stories..
And while his landscapes are highly metaphorical, they also accurately reflect the region’s topography and natural light. Indeed, if studied closely in they exude a reality that makes you see what it might have been like to be in Italy 500 years ago.
A companion exhibit focuses in on views of sacred landscapes depicted in Renaissance manuscripts, with the Getty noting that many people then looked to greenery for contemplating the perceived divine order of creation. The Getty notes:
“Manuscript illuminators were among those who carefully studied the raw elements of nature—such as rocks, trees, flowers, waterways, mountains, and even atmosphere—and incorporated these into luxurious objects of personal or communal devotion. “
Adding to this celebration of the Renaissance is a rare showing of three Caravaggio masterpieces, on loan from the Borghese Gallery in Rome.
Considered one of the true masters of Italian painting, Caravaggio is known for his bold, realistic style in which sacred subjects were shown as very real people, their emotions and physicality made dramatic by selective lighting, and dark shadowing. His works are mesmerizing.
Indeed, the three paining alone are worth a visit to the Getty. Be prepared for possible time travel.