Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) was the artistic titan of the 17th century and the author of the Baroque style. His dramatic naturalistic style was the perfect sculptural counterpart to the painting style of Caravaggio and his followers. This show, which originated at the Metropolitan Museum, traces the development of some of his most famous sculptures through the terracotta studies or bozzetti he created to work out his designs.
One of the things I love most about seeing original works of art, and particularly studies and drawings of artists that I love, is the palpable sense of being in the presence of the artist. In this case, that feeling is almost overwhelming. Seeing the thumb prints in the modeled clay, the textures created by quickly applied tool marks, the measuring points used to scale up the figures- one feels acutely the presence of the master and for a brief instant, can trace the movement of his hand as well as his thoughts.
This was not the first time I had seen some of these terracotta studies. Many years ago (too many!), Bernini's bozetti were the subject of my senior thesis. I traveled to Boston and spent a week in the Fogg Museum looking at their collection of bozetti and digging through their archives for unpublished research. So when I saw them again, together with the others from collections around the world, it was like greeting old friends from one's youth. Familiar, yet different, and seen through a different, more experienced lens.
Coincidentally, yesterday an article was published in Professional Artist Magazine tracing the careers of fours artists including me. The theme was "its never too late" which in my case meant not a late start, but a detour. It was interesting to experience the Bernini show and relive those times many years ago when I first saw that work and have this article appear in print on the same day.