Wednesday, July 14, 2004

July 14th Wednesday

Painted again this morning in Rignano Sull'Arno. Confronting the issues of the same landscape on the second day. I still haven't got back to finishing the first one I started here, because this other is occupying me so much. So many hours unprotected under the hot sun. It is both a joy and a hardship.

Psychological, spiritual effects of being outside of the city.

Came back in the afternoon to hear a lecture in San Lorenzo. What incredible works in this church! I saw a painting which I knew was an Annigoni at first sight. Our lecturer talked very energetically about Brunelleschi and the invention of the Renaissance as a kind of Italian nationalistic (i.e. Roman) split from the Gothic. The concept of Renaissance proportions was different from the Gothic, he thought, in that it was more self-consciously aesthetic than structural, and, of course, more based on Roman models. He called it "paper architecture." Apparently the size of all the spaces were based upon a single measurement which unfolded in the space like a folded piece of paper, although I don't know if the term actually comes from this. He showed us the sacristry where a "Baci" was buried, and pointed out the purple porphyry circle in the top of his monument/table. The sacristry was the first part of San Lorenzo that was built, around 1420. The rest of the church wasn't done until about 20 years later. It is square in shape and based on a simple, harmonic scheme. The guide said that Brunelleschi invented those floating capitals--I forget their real names--to take the place, aesthetically, of classical columns. Donatello's tondos in the roof were apparently too busy and gaudy for Brunelleschi, who wanted the space to be sober and sacred in feeling. He then described briefly Savonarola's rise and his fall, initiated by the Signoria that he put in power, who were also helped by the Medici. One of the most interesting points of his lecture concerned the pope's authorization of the Franciscan and Domenican orders. These were apparently among a number of sects which the pope was trying to control and suppress as heresies and, doubtless, threats to his power. The rise of the city in the late middle ages, though, had created a great need for urban-based brotherhoods of friars, and the pope authorized the Franciscan and Domenican sects to fill this role, thus consolidating his power and expanding the role of the church in people's lives in the city. These city-based brotherhoods were distinct from the traditional rural monasteries, which in the late middle ages had formed the main part of church power and wealth.


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