Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Category — Authors

Art and Love in Renaissance Italy : There is no other way to put it!


Oscar Wilde once wrote, “All art is useless, except that it is intensely admired”. If so, then what is the use of painting? Sculpting vases, panels or jewelry? What makes them so special that The Museum of Metropolitan Art would exert so much of their resources into obtaining almost over 150 pieces for an exhibit?

The answer lies quite simply in the title of the exhibit. “Love and Romance in Renaissance Italy. All these objects were created as everlasting symbols of status, piety and love. As I trembled in the slightly chilly marble hall where most of the exhibit was housed I could not help but embrace how aptly titled it was.

  The painting of a beautiful woman probably commissioned by a doting husband stared across a blue and white ceramic vase. Celestial cherubs and gods like Venus, commissioned by those who tried in every way to be closer to God were recurring motifs. It is difficult not to generalize or to be overly sentimental in analyzing Renaissance art because the artists themselves deliberately exaggerated the subjects. Immense oil paintings of partially nude women of impressive proportions gazed the viewer out of countenance. This was considered beauty! Past tense is used because standards of what stands for love or beauty has drastically changed in a society that is so insecure.

            Historically, the High Italian Renaissance was a period where the pursuit of perfection was channeled through the skill of artists and their craft. Looking at their preindustrial era surroundings they saw potential for beauty and divinity reminiscent of the grandeur that was Rome. One such man was Fra Fillipo Lippi. He was a painter and monk. I recognized his style instantly as I my eyes skipped across the room. He specialized in profile paintings of Italian nobility and mostly couples as seen in the painting “Portrait of a Woman and a Man at a Casement”. In his pursuit of idealization he focuses on the details of an elaborate headpiece and dress rather than the woman that wore it. Her exaggeratedly high forehead, lack of eyebrows, and wan pallor though disconcerting the viewer was considered beauty. On her right arm he wrote the word “Leal” in Italian. Understandably to further emphasize her perfection as a loyal wife. Lorenzo Lotto also undertook to paint in this time and his portayal of “Venus and Cupid” is awe inspiring. Venus as the godess of beauty reposed and completely at ease with cupid at her feet gives and indescribable sense of serenity and peace. This was art and love in renaissance Italy.

This romantic idealization went beyond the human form. In the artist’s eyes and in my minds eye it transcended into human nature itself.

December 29, 2008   Comments Off on Art and Love in Renaissance Italy : There is no other way to put it!

Tres Bien Mais Triste


“Les Ecailles De La Memoire”, better understood as “The Scales of Memory” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, better known as “BAM”, was a disconcerting piece of African interpretive dance. [Read more →]

December 29, 2008   Comments Off on Tres Bien Mais Triste

Samuel Freedman

“Human nature can be broken down into love, hate, ambition, and disappointment,” Samuel G. Freedman pointed out to a class of students that he visited at Baruch College. It can be assumed that someone with extensive experience and vast knowledge of human life and our behavior can make such an argument, and in Freedman’s case, such an assumption would be correct. He is a columnist for Saturday’s New York Times, for which he is constantly interviewing people. He is also a professor at the prestigious Columbia University. However, it is probably his latest book, Who She Was: My Search for My Mother’s Life, that gives Freedman the most credentials as a respectable writer. [Read more →]

December 24, 2008   2 Comments

A Son’s Journey

Author of the well-respected book, Who She Was: My Search for My Mother’s Life, Samuel Freedman discussed the process behind his research and the makings of his mother’s biography during one of my classes. Freedman was very honest when responding to questions asked of him, and was open with information concerning his personal life. As a student, I was amazed at his ability to uncover information about an obscure past. As a reader, I was amazed at his ability to articulate details that might have otherwise been overshadowed. [Read more →]

December 23, 2008   1 Comment

Urban Bush Women

Performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Urban Bush women displayed African American culture and traditions as well as the struggle that came with African Diaspora, migration of Africans to America and later on to the world, through expressive dance performances. For many members of the audience like me, it was difficult to understand the story of the dance performance.  Only in the end did I realize that there was no plot. Without sufficient introduction in the beginning of the performance, Urban Bush women confused its audience. [Read more →]

December 21, 2008   2 Comments


The theme of my collage is childhood. Though I came to America when I was 11 years old, I still have fresh memories of my childhood in China. What I remember the most was the old culture of China that helped to shape the person I am today, especially my elementary school. Separated from my parents, I lived in the city alone for the four years before I came to America. [Read more →]

December 21, 2008   3 Comments

Who She Is

The only people in the house were her mother, the house caretaker and the caretaker’s daughter. After eating, she had planned to accompany her mother to the post office to mail a letter to her grandfather. The caretaker sets a plate of food on the table and motions her to eat. Dutifully, she approaches the food but at a glance to the right she notices the caretaker’s daughter who is crawling on the floor and she offers to share her food. After half an hour, she dresses and looks for her mother.

In the distance, a crowd of people walk along the road with heavy footsteps. With the sounds drumming closer, she glances out the window at the wide steel gate and at once realizes that the guests were not the usual friendly neighbors offering food or the kind salespeople trying to sell a product. Instead they were Japanese soldiers wearing green uniforms, carrying a bayonet on one hand and a Japanese flag on the other. They break the wooden door and march into her house, heading towards the stairs to destroy the house from top to bottom. Immediately the caretaker’s baby begins to cry. She runs over to carry her and together they hide under the dinner table. Before long, she beings to cry with her and the screeching cries startle the soldiers. At the foot of the staircase, the soldiers start talking in Japanese and one points to the door. In an instant they leave and the children stop crying, sniffling and gasping for breath. The mothers, unaware of what had happened until they had heard the cries, come downstairs and embrace their children. [Read more →]

December 21, 2008   2 Comments

Who she is

My cousin (left), her daughter (center), and her husband (right).

May 17, 1988.
On the morning of Xiao Yan Li’s (李小燕) eighteenth birthday, the air, diffusing through the opaque windows, was as hot and suffocating as normal. There were no signs of celebration. Not even a tinge of love did she feel, as she watched her mother, preparing her younger brother and sister for school. She envied their boiled eggs and new school uniforms. Soon, she was bored at the sight of it, for she knew that she would never be treated the same and that going to school was just a dream. For many mornings and nights, she had thought about the same fantasy of going to school, meeting new friends, and reaching above the low ceiling of her potential. But she now quit, for it was no longer a dream of a teenager girl. She had finally become an adult, and her dreams and wishes had now all been shattered and destroyed into millions of pieces. She was angry and hateful, not toward her parents who had lost affection since she was born, but toward herself and the harshness of the reality. [Read more →]

December 21, 2008   1 Comment

Art and Love in the Italian Renaissance

In the world we live today, we often ignore what is surrounding us, even if it’s free of charge. I had the opportunity to visit the exhibition Art and Love in the Italian Renaissance, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Though the Renaissance occurred hundreds of years ago, the values of marriage and family were preserved through the paintings and jewelries at the exhibition. Though I had limited knowledge of the culture during that time period, the exhibition guided me to learn the culture not from words but with my own eyes. [Read more →]

December 20, 2008   Comments Off on Art and Love in the Italian Renaissance

The Photojournalist

Going through Susan Meiselas’s work at the International Center of Photography (ICP) was truly breathtaking. Never before have I been exposed to such “in your face” photography. I was taken back with one of her works, her Carnival Strippers project, but Meiselas’s other piece about the political revolutions down in Central America did more than tell a story, her photos put the viewer in the story. [Read more →]

December 18, 2008   Comments Off on The Photojournalist