Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee: KAHIBA; Gossart

[Jan Gossart, The Deposition, c. 1520; oil on panel; The Hermitage, St. Petersburg]

[Gossart, St. Anthony with a Donor, c. 1508; oil on panel; Galleria Doria-Pamphilis, Rome]

[Gossart, Jesus, The Virgin & the Baptist, c. 1510-1515; oil on panel; Prado, Madrid]

[Gossart, St. Luke Painting the Virgin, c. 1520-1525; oil on panel; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna]

["Rejoycing" by KAHIBA, 2008]

A gentle river, filled with one- and two-masted tall ships, the great black-backed gulls patrolling the marina and promenade, wings outstretched in a mild blue sky...the grace notes of summer's out-procession...

(The German-Swiss-Austrian trio KAHIBA plays music to fit the season in-between, a Mitteleuropaische village dance tune with jazz overtonings, lively as we bring in the gourds and beans, with the saxophone reminding us of winter to come.]

Fabulous show opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC last week: Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart's Renaissance. As the Metropolitan describes it:

"The first major exhibition in forty-five years devoted to the Burgundian Netherlandish artist Jan Gossart (ca. 1478-1532) brings together Gossart's paintings, drawings, and prints and places them in the context of the art and artists that influenced his transformation from Late Gothic Mannerism to the new Renaissance mode."

(For more on Gossart from the Met, click here, then scroll down second item on the left. For Roberta Smith's strong review in the New York Times, click here.)

One of the most deliciously exhausting shows we have seen in years, overflowing with embellishment and detail. The oil paintings transport the viewer with their vivid and innovative colors (not least the polychrome wings of Gossart's angels), the flesh you are certain you could touch, the folds of velvet and satin that you are certain you can see shift and rustle. Deborah said Gossart was "drunk on architecture," that we can "almost smell the fresh air" emanating from his paintings.

Gossart is a genius at expressing religious passion-- not through anguished faces and gouts of blood-- but through composition, gesture, and the contours of the flesh.

As impressive as the oil paintings are, Gossart's ink/chalk drawings draw a viewer into a teeming, ornamented world that repays close inspection. "The Conversion of Saul" (from the 1520s) is a thunder of horsemen, "The Lamentation" (also c. 1520s)a quiet study of grief.

The show at the Met is large, and includes not only many of Gossart's master-works on loan from collections across the world, but many smaller pieces rarely seen. I especially liked the sketches of "standing warriors in fantastic arms," with their wildly bouffant sleeves, exaggerated plumes and epaulettes, their encrusted breastplates.

The show runs through January 17, 2011.

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