Sunday, May 15, 2011

Angry Young Men...

...The Birth of Modernity. This is the title of the current exhibition going on at Palazzo Strozzi which features the work of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro'  and Salvador Dali'.  I stopped in on Friday on my way home from having lunch with a friend. I'm glad I did because it always happens that a new show is up and I always think that I have time to see it and then before I know it it's almost over and I have to rush over to see it with everyone else who did the same. Although,  I do have to say that it was decently crowded when I was there, luckily I made it in before the elementary school kids and the tour group that I saw entering as I was leaving.  

The show was definitely interesting. It was not a focus on these artist as we think of them today, i.e, the cubist/dada-surrealist/surrealist, but rather on what happened before they became that artist. It shows how each of these artists was influenced by the one that came before them and the way that each one knew that he had to do something different and new.  An idea that has been consistent throughout the history of art. But unlike those artist that came before them, this time, these artist were truly able to 'destroy' the image and open up new ideas of art making.  And as the title suggests giving birth to the modern area of art.  (Not to be confused  with the contemporary.  I think many times people see these terms as interchangeable, they are not. Think of it like this, anything done after the 1950's can be considered contemporary, but what contemporary really means is anything that is happening currently, right now, at this moment. That is contemporary, not modern.)

The exhibit was curated in reverse order, which I thought was quite clever. It begins by displaying a few pieces of the known styles of each of these artists but then takes us back in time to show the beginnings.  What struck me the most is that when I walked into each room, I tried to guess who the artist was before I looked at the tags and noticed how difficult that was to do. Not only were there similarities to each others work, but also many noticeable influences from artists like Cezanne, Monet, and Matisse, all predecessors of the three artists. 


Good paintings, but I could certainly sense a disconnection. It was like they were bored. Tired of doing the same old thing. And could you blame them? Why keep painting in these styles? The other guys did it already and they did it well.  It was time for a new take and a new direction and these three certainly found that. Once again, it is irrelevant as to whether or not you actually 'like' their work or enjoy the imagery itself, but rather the importance of these artists is their contribution to the history of art and the evolution of the various movements over time. 

What was also fascinating to me was to see a show like this in the city of Florence. The birth place of the Renaissance because as we can see it didn't stop there. The movement of these three artist was just as important and influential as the ideas of the Giotto, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio. Art is about questioning and challenging old ideas and creating something  new.

I think many times people have this idea of what 'art' is and that the ones who do not paint or draw the human figure, or represent real life images do so because they don't have the 'ability' to create realistic images. What this exhibition shows is that this is not the case at all. These were three 'classically' trained artists, the early works will show perfectly painted figures, in fact one of the Picasso pieces looked like something out of the 18th century.  But that's not the point. I mean honestly, do we really want to keep seeing the same thing over and over again? 
Would you ever guess that this is the work of Pablo Picasso?

If you are in Florence or planing a trip before July, this exhibit is worth seeing Another thing I liked about it was that it is relatively small. Sometimes I feel like the exhibits can be overwhelming, so much to see that I have a hard time truly enjoying the work. I thought this was just right. In fact I actually went through twice. The first time to read all of the information and the second time to look, but really look.

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