Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Da Vinci's horse and Renaissance idols on view

Now’s a good time to check out the National Gallery of Art’s cluster of new focus exhibitions. Small but incredible bronze statuettes of the rearing, muscular Budapest Horse – and how modern tech tools have been applied to solve a mystery: whether at least one was cast from a spectacular model by Da Vinci. A collection of smart and richly executed oil paintings by Judith Leyster proves that women in the early 1600s could get access to places some would assume to be off-limits to ladies. With their direct stares and sly expressions, the subjects evoked an earworm of George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone.”

And then there’s ”An Antiquity of Imagination: Tullio Lombardo and Venetian High Renaissance Sculpture.” Stuffy? Not on your life. The stories behind the works created by Tullio (c. 1455-1532) and his brother make them that much more fascinating. Imagine a time when sculptors and painters engaged in scrimmages over which is the more worthy medium? When sculptors tried to prove their superiority by striving to create likenesses of beings, mortal or mythical, so mesmerizing that onlookers would feel sympathy, compassion, infatuation, even love?

Robin’s writing more about this for a print publication, but in the meantime, plan a visit to NGA's West Building at 6th St. and Constitution Ave. NW in DC.