Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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The MET: Art and Love in Renaissance Italy

I had never been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art before and when I heard there was an Italian-based exhibit, I couldn’t wait to get there.  I didn’t see this journey to the MET as a mandatory assignment for a grade; I saw it as a way to learn about the art of my own culture.  As soon as I entered the exhibit I felt right at home.  I was surrounded by countless paintings of Bible scenes and Italian settings that reminded me of my early childhood.  As a child, my family and I would journey to Church every Sunday and learn about such scenes as the priest delivered his sermon.  All throughout my time at the Art and Love in Renaissance Italy Exhibit, memories and emotions surged through my body as I walked past each gigantic oil painting.

Even though there were about twenty paintings I could write about, I narrowed my search down to three.  “The Crucifixion” by Gerald David was one of the paintings that really caught my attention.  In this graphic scene from the Bible, Jesus Christ was mocked, ridiculed, and spat upon for being the supposed “Son of God.”  At the end of his journey carrying the cross, nails were driven through his hands and feet.  Religion is a huge part of my life and this painting had a significant meaning for me.  It reminded me that God gave his only son to save mankind.  The vivid colors of the painting allow the viewer to truly see what occurred and the amazing sacrifice Jesus made for us dying on the cross.  Also, the fact that this painting was so large made it seem like the audience is witnessing the Crucifixion first hand.  It was unlike any other representation I had ever seen.
Following my mini-theme of religion of the Art and Love in Renaissance Italy Exhibit, there was another scene from the Bible that jumped out at me.  “The Annunciation” by Luca Giordano was a truly breathtaking piece.  In this painting, the angel Gabriel is delivering the joyous news to the Virgin Mary that she will bear the Son of God.  This is one of the most famous moments of the Bible and this painting truly does it justice.  Giordano does an excellent job of using bright, shiny yellows to represent the angel Gabriel’s wings and halo.  It was almost as if the angel was standing there before you.  Also, similarly to “The Crucifixion,” the size of the painting was another significant factor.  It was so large it almost took up an entire wall.  The size of the painting allows the viewer to almost hear the sacred message from Gabriel to the Virgin Mary.  It was a magnificent sight.

Finally, the third painting that caught my attention was titled “Wolf and Fox Hunt” by Peter Paul Rubens and Workshop.  This painting veers away from the other two previously mentioned because it has nothing to do with religion.  There was something about this huge painting that called to me.  The vicious looks on the wolves and foxes had me wondering why anyone would ever hunt these vicious but beautiful animals.  One portion of the painting had a German Shepherd pinned to the ground by a wolf.  I found myself saying, “What’s the point of this?”  The humans are the mindless animals in this painting for letting this occur before their eyes.  The chaos in the painting was unimaginable.  Animals were ripping and clawing at one another as humans watched high on their horses, safe from the danger so close to them.  It looked like something out of a horror movie.

My adventure to the Art and Love in Renaissance Italy Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was one that I’ll never forget.  I didn’t know much about paintings before my trip and I am proud to say that I can name and describe some pieces from this exhibit.  This wasn’t just a school assignment; it was the beginning of a new interest in Italian Art and culture.

1 comment

1 Katie Alarcon { 12.16.08 at 8:09 am }

You do a very eloquent job in describing your devotion to your faith. I can tell you find a lot of comfort in it. Your descriptions of the painting remind me of the analysis’s we have to do for art history. I am not sure if you are taking that class next semester but from what I can read here you would find that class easy and a pleasure to take.