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Old 25th October 2005   #1
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Join Date: July 2005
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Default Rubens exhibition in London

Of interest to all lovers of art and plus-size beauty is a new show opening at the National Gallery in London tomorrow, and running until January, titled Rubens: A Master in the Making.

It's not as expansive as last year's Rubens in Vienna presentation, but it still looks like a once-in-a-lifetime event.

I wish I could see it! It's always more fulfilling to see Rubens's works in person, rather than in books or even online. The canvasses are invariably much, much larger than you expect -- so much so that the "details" are large enough to be divided into separate, smaller paintings. Look at The Battle of the Amazons (c.1598), which is part of this exhibition:

It contains within it many individual scenes of beauty, all combined in one stunning canvas. Knowing the scale of Rubens's works, the figures are undoubtedly nearly life-size in the original painting. And the quality of the colors is remarkable, for a painting of this vintage.

There are a few more glimpses of the contents of the show at the following link -- but the permanent collection of the National Gallery also features many famous Rubens works, so a visit to the exhibition, combined with a tour of the permanent collection, could make for a wonderful "Rubens Day."

Just the thing to escape the modern world of starvation, and immerse oneself in an environment of true beauty!
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Old 25th October 2005   #2
M. Lopez
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Join Date: August 2005
Posts: 587
Default Re: Rubens exhibition in London

If you click on the "Events" tab from the exhibition page, you see a whole list of fascinating activities that are scheduled to accompany the show, such as lectures about the influence that Classical and Italian Renaissance art had upon Rubens's work.

But one of the most interesting "events" that is related to this show is a screening of Fellini's film, La Dolce Vita, starring curvaceous goddess Anita Ekberg. How very fitting! The site's description of the film includes the following statement, which makes the Rubens connection explicit:

"Meanwhile, Rubens's sensuous nudes find their modern equivalent in the abundant figure of Anita Ekberg luring Marcello into the Trevi Fountain."

And the screening is even accompanied by a lecture about the film, titled "The Baroque in Cinema: Fellini's 'La Dolce Vita'." This immediately made me think about the various Baroque-inspired campaigns that we saw from plus-size fashion retailers such as Nordstrom this fall. According to the site's description, the lecturer even interprets the film in an art-renewal manner:

"Dynamically composed, it is a joyous mixture of sacred and profane and marks a definitive break with the Neo-Realism that had marked Italian cinema since 1945"

I think this comment could apply just as well to women's fashion today, as it recovers the Baroque opulence and femininity that it had suppressed since that time.
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Old 26th October 2005   #3
Join Date: July 2005
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Default The Archduke's gallery . . .

To regard a visit to this Rubens exhibition as a blessed escape from the modern world is a perfectly valid exercise. The show's subject matter genuinely represents the dominant aesthetic of ages past.

One can see this fact vividly confirmed at the Web site of another famous Old Master gallery, the Prado, in Madrid.

Every month, the Prado presents a Web page titled "A Work. An Artist." And as the name implies, this page offers a short essay about a single painting in the museum's collection, along with a reproduction of the image in question.

This month, the featured painting is David Teniers the Younger's The Archduke Leopold William in his Picture Gallery in Brussels (c.1650-51). Not only is it an intriguing canvas, but it is also an important historical document, because it offers the modern viewer an accurate and comprehensive look at the visual content of a representative 17th-century art collection:

And what do we discover when we browse the Archduke's gallery?

The three works that appear at the top-left, top-middle, and top-right, as well as the two that appear the bottom-right, are all masterful depictions of full-figured feminine beauty, created by the renowned Italian Renaissance artist, Titian (who was a major influence on Rubens).

This was the "magazine rack" of the 1600s. This was their cineplex, their prime-time TV lineup. This was the visual environment in which they lived. This is what 17th-century viewers, men and women alike, would have seen all around them, every day of their lives.

Instead of a non-stop barrage of magazine covers and television images showing skeletal celebrities, society in the 1600s would have been immesed in masterworks exhibiting the soft fullness of generously-proportioned feminine figures.

What woman would have ever felt the need to diet, in the midst of wall-to-wall canvasses of goddesses as well-fed and gorgeous as these?

Is it any wonder that Old World cultures were so much healthier than our own? They worshipped idealized beauty just as much as we do today--except their ideal of beauty was a timeless ideal, in harmony with natural feminine desires, and not an artificial standard designed to eradicate femininity itself.

And just think of how much richer our own society would be, if the media environment in which we lived more closely resembled the Archduke's gallery than the bone-and-plastic horror show that envelops us today . . .

- Click here to read the Prado's online commentary about the above canvas

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