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Florence: Works of Art

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Walking down the narrow, stony and hilly roads from the campus to the center I begin to wonder if all the pain is worth taking just to view a few sculptures and paintings. However, half way through this walk I realized the enriching experience I am undergoing. It is not only the museums that hold exquisite pieces of art, but the very city Florence itself is a living museum. This city is an exceptional testimony to the secular civilization that thrived here and it houses some of the most famous and renowned pieces of art and architecture. Listing in the reverse order of impact if I am to view any five works of art first hand, I would chose the paintings The Deposition and The Birth of Venus that display the artistic talents of the painters, the sculptures the Abduction of the Sabine woman and the David that exemplify the Renaissance aesthetics and the Duomo which dominates the Florentine sky-line. However, the two works of art that most need to be viewed in Florence are The David by Michelangelo and Duomo.

Viewing Fra Angelico's The Depositions was a considerably easy task for me since it was a part of our academic site visit. However, the difficult part was getting up early on a rainy Saturday morning. This was the first painting I saw in the Museo di San Marco. It should be viewed first hand to see the bright colors, effect of gold the frame of the painting and the spatial order. Upon first look on it I was dazzled by the use of gold. This oil painting shows the divinity of Christ by exquisite use of gold both in the picture and the frame. The frame in particular has three triangular pinnacles. This was the work of Lorenzo, but he died before he could complete the altar. The colors used in the painting are very bright shades of red, yellow and blue this brightness can only be viewed first hand as in the pictures in the book History of art the painting loses its luster. The details that can be most appreciated when standing in front of the painting is the radiant and immaculate body of Christ with no unnatural element in it. There is a deep line which runs across the middle of his ribs and he lies loosely and limply in the hands of others. The blood running down the body of Christ passes over the body like a delicate line that traces the curve of the stomach. The drapery in the garments of the people gives the painting a shadow and light effect. The painting deep to the bottom and accommodates many figures in it. The landscape of a town can be seen at the back. This landscape with trees and building seem much more realistic than the ornamental screen in The Birth of Venus. This painting is well worth viewing first hand.

Galleria Degli Uffizi brings together the two most magnificent elements of Florence art and history. There should be no problems for NYU students to enter it with their NYU Amici degli Uffizi cards. However, what might be a problem is the unending flight of stairs in Uffizi. Standing in front of Boteccelli's The Birth of Venus, I could not help but wonder at the tender and gentle aura of Venus. I was immediately reminded of the statement in History of Art textbook, "Temperance, and Honesty, Charm and Splendor. Oh what exquisite beauty!" Viewing the painting first hand I felt the female grace at its pinnacle, the unnaturally long hair has a peculiar golden sheen to it. As Venus modestly covers her nude body with elegant hands and masses of golden hair. The elongated neck, perfect hour glass figure, flawless skin and enchanting eyes of Venus cannot be viewed in any other painting. However in my opinion, the unconventional fall to her shoulders and the hinges in her arms is unrealistic. But these unnatural elements did little to reduce the perfect impression I had of this painting. Certain elements of the painting that I has seen before in other reproductions also is the composition, Venus is flanked by two groups of figures the God of wind Zephyrus on the left hand side, wrapped around him is Aura, the Goddess of breeze and the nymph on the right. But what captured my attention when I saw this painting was the sense of movement due to the wavering garments of the gods, nymph and purple cloak meant to cover Venus. All the figures seem to be void of weight, they do not look solid, as their toes don't seem to be touching the ground. Another interesting element, which cannot be seen in the picture of the painting, is use of gold probably to bring out the divine status of Venus in the painting as we see that the trunks and leaves have a lining of gold on them.

Piazza Signoria in Florence is wrapped by a cold February evening. I'm coming from the Cathedral. The first look over the square with its coffee bars and dominating, towering palaces, overwhelmed me. Palazzo Vecchio dominates the scene, but what actually draws my attention is the elegant sculptures in Loggia dei Lanzi. Out of the many sculptures there one of the most attractive is The Abduction of the Sabine Woman. This figure is definitely one of the best I have viewed so far and it does not take any extra effort to go inside a museum or get tickets, it can be viewed and appreciated while casually walking down the Piazza. This sculpture depicts the violent myth where the Romans abducted the Sabine woman in order to increase their population. The feature which had a striking effect on me, was its complex form. The sculpture has a pyramidal structure, the man on the bottom forms the base and the outstretched arm of the woman forms the apex of the pyramid. The figures have a dense intertwined composition and shows the over exclusive effort put in by the sculptor. There were certain aspects I expected to view as I had seen so many pictures of the sculpture like the tensed muscles, rounded shoulders, crested chests and exaggerated body movements. The female has a very curvilinear with slender S-shaped curves to her body. But the element that attracted me to the sculpture was its lively mannerism, it felt as if the lady is really being carried away due to her outstretched hand and muscles which gave way where the man carries her. Her facial expression is one which can be appreciated only if viewed first hand. Her lips are slightly parted as if due to the agony she is undergoing, her brows are furrowed and her eyes are looking upwards renders the sculpture the fear of deep pathos and fear.

Standing in front of a sculpture I wondered, "Why do 2 million people flock to city of Florence to view a huge statue of a naked man, David?" Why does a work of art created half a millennium ago posses such a timeless appeal? And I came up with a simple answer: the statue is perfect. What made Michelangelo's David sculpture really interesting to me is the relation of this magnificent projection of man to the societal conditions during the Renaissance. Upon my first look at the sculpture and I could not help but appreciate Michelangelo's



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