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Old 24th October 2011   #1
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Join Date: July 2005
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Default ''Masters of Venice'' (art exhibition in SF)

Whenever one gets sick of the curve-o-phobic, exercise-torture-pushing propaganda of the misbegotten modern world, it's a pleasure to step into the healthier, more noble ages of Western history and enter a time when plus-size beauty was given its rightful due as the ideal of feminine beauty.

Starting this Saturday, October 29th, anyone living in the San Francisco area has a priceless opportunity to enter the European Renaissance, one of the summits of Western civilization and thus one one of the high points of the veneration of full-figured femininity.

The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco is staging a major exhibition titled Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Just as the name implies, this exhibit boasts some of the most gorgeous works of art of the Venetian Renaissance from one of the finest galleries in the world, Vienna's main art museum.

The show-stopping centrepiece is Titian's fifth version of DanaŽ, c.1560, which is one of the most gorgeous and, yes, erotic depictions of feminine beauty ever created. Ever. Its beauty takes one's breath away.

An Examiner article provides a good introduction to the exhibition.

The language that it uses to describe the DanaŽ painting is splendid:

DanaŽ was a princess of Argos in the Greek Peloponessos, a daughter of King Akrisios. When her father learned a prophecy that he was destined to be killed by a son of his daughter, he locked DanaŽ away in a subterranean, bronze chamber. Her prison, however, was easily infiltrated by the god Zeus who impregnated her in the guise of a golden shower.

As his contemporary biographer Giorgio Vasari noted, Titian's soft, sensuous flesh was almost palpable, seeming to "pulse with life and blood."

The painting is one of Titian's most sensual; DanaŽ sinks into the soft pillow of the sheets, looking slightly upward with undisguised pleasure. The beautifully controlled lighting enfolds part of her face in shadow but ingeniously catches the golden shower as it drifts toward her slightly parted thighs. Titian has elevated the world of carnal desire into myth but the milky flesh speaks all to clearly of earthy sexuality.

No matter how much the androgyny-worshipping fashion establishment suppresses feminine beauty, at least the art world still appreciates it, enthusing over DanaŽ's "soft, sensuous...milky flesh" and sighing over how she "sinks into the soft pillows." That languour is what makes the image so seductive. It's not just that DanaŽ is plump and full-figured, which she is. It's that her body looks so sensually untoned, as soft as the pillows themselves, and her pose is the very incarnation of alluring lassitude. The painting communicates that she would shun any exertion whatsoever, but would exist merely for pleasure -- the pleasure of food, the pleasure of love.

The museum web site offers more highlights from the exhibition, such as these two gorgeous paintings by Veronese. In this depiction of Lucretia c.1580-83, her arms look full and round, and she appears very fleshy at the neck and shoulder area. She looks like a plus-size model -- or rather, today's plus-size models possess this timeless beauty.

Another painting, this one titled Judith with the Head of Holofernes, c.1580, shows how these canvasses initially depicted goddesses with fair complexions, and that it is only the age of centuries that has darkened the rosy paleness of their skin.

The Examiner article has more to say about the aristocratic culture that gave birth to these masterpieces:

Venice was generous in many ways to its artists and one of her supreme gifts was her light. That light, a color that changes from clear to dazzling, an atmosphere at once solid and ethereal, permeates these paintings. That ambient, sea-reflected light plays across the landscapes, the voluptuous flesh and even the religious paintings in the exhibit.

The Venetian Renaissance was a revolutionary era in the evolution of Western art. With dazzling virtuosity, they celebrated the poetic potential of color and beauty observed in nature.

Lynn Federle Orr, curator of European art at San Francisco's Fine Arts Museums, pointed out, "They were meant for the private delectation of very sophisticated connoisseurs who could afford them. They wanted to delight in the sensual realities of the world, not only nature, but the female form."

The last comment, about the harmony of beauty between the well-fed feminine figure and the lush landscapes of the natural world, ties in with themes that this site has much discussed of late.

Here's the official exhibition web site. It's an event not to be missed.
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