The Summit of Beauty in Art

June 16, 2022 at 12:24 pm (Art)

On my art-cluttered coffee table, this gorgeous volume currently takes precedence. It is a birthday gift from Ron – my most splendid husband.

Giotto’s O is about the great painter Giotto de Bondone. His genius pointed the way forward from the art of the Middle Ages to the triumph of the High Renaissance.

From Andrew Ladis’s Introduction:

The tale of Giotto’s O is a story of magical technical mastery and the most unassuming interpretive intelligence, an extraordinary combination of hand and mind. The painter transforms himself into a human compass, but in addition to mechanical precision there is a diagnostic dimension behind the mark that is equally astonishing, an idea that informs and elevates the painter’s manual dexterity….

The murals by Giotto in the Arena Chapel…constitute the greatest pictorial cycle of fourteenth-century Europe. Above all, what elevates them to the realm of the universal and timeless is their profound humanity. In a series of images whose subtlety, truthfulness, and dramatic range anticipate Caravaggio and Rembrandt, Giotto explored the world of the human heart and mind in such a way that, as the nineteenth-century English critic John Ruskin put it, he “defines, explains and exalts every sweet incident of human nature; and makes dear to daily life every mystic imagination of natures greater than our own. He reconciles, while he intensifies, every virtue of domestic and monastic thought. He makes the simplest household duties sacred, and the highest religious passions serviceable and just.”

Recently, I’ve taken a Lifelong Learning class entitled The Giotto Revolution. I’ve had this instructor before, but this time she really outdid herself. The course was not only about Giotto; several other great artists were covered. Among the most notable, Duccio di Buoninsegna. ( I love his name):

Rucellai Madonna, ca. 1285
Meleager Sarcophagus, 220-230 AD
Cimabue Madonna and Child
Giotto, Ognissanti Madonna ca. 1310
Pulpit of the Pisa Baptistry, Nicola Pisano

Ducci, Maesta ca.1308-1311

Duccio, Maesta, reverse

2 Comments

  1. starrmark said,

    Oh, Roberta,Thank you for this wonderful journey.When I went to work at the slide library at Penn, Giotto wnknas one of the first artists that I discovered. A later art history class took me through this evolution of styles. You have transported me back to one of the happiest times of my life.Seeing Giotto’s work in person takes my breath away. Thank you, thank you, thank you!See you soon,Beth

    • Roberta Rood said,

      You are so welcome, Beth!

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