Sunday, December 15, 2013

Think, Eye, Think!

Return over and over to the most familiar works of art, and be rewarded with fresher insights, more understanding.

I have seen Veronese's iconic Wedding at Cana at the Louvre, and have looked at reproductions countless times over the years...yet I only this month realized that almost none of the c. 130 revelers at the banquet-- clearly all in animated conversation, as befits the occasion--has open mouth.

Look carefully...with the exception of a bare few whisperers, the multitude cannot be speaking at the precise moment Veronese has chosen to create.  A visual oxymoron.  A confounding of our (and their) senses.

Peter Greenaway provided the clue, as he discussed how he imagined dialogue for the banqueters in his update and gloss on the painting at the 2009 Venice Biennale  (click here for more).   He reminds us that the Benedictine monastery San Giorgio Maggiore commissioned the painting for its refectory, and that the Benedictines ate in silence, as a way to honor God and attain virtuousness.

Veronese found a way to combine the sacred and the secular in a most clever way.   And I am reminded that, no matter how many times I may have looked at an image, further and more intense study almost always repays the effort.  

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