In this episode of The Way I See It, our radio collaboration with BBC, we’ve captured composer Steve Reich’s audible awe as he sees his friend Richard Serra’s monumental 2015 sculpture Equal for the first time. As Reich puts it, he and Serra are “in tune to the same frequencies,” so their meeting in Manhattan in the 1960s and subsequent friendship was both important and inevitable.
Working in sound and steel respectively, both Reich and Serra rejected traditional compositional structures—one of harmony and the other of form—to give shape to their work. Reich is the recipient of countless awards, including two Grammys, a Pulitzer, and, recently, the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale. His works are performed in concert halls all over the world, and recently at Glastonbury Festival. Find “The Way I See It” on BBC Sounds or wherever you get your podcasts. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000…
“It is critical to reckon with the power imbalance enacted when a white male artist transposes the body of a black woman into an emblem of enslavement.”
Why Born Enslaved! was first conceived in 1868 by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, one of the greatest French sculptors of the nineteenth century. The bust portrays a woman straining against a rope pulled taut around her arms, back, and breast. Her shoulders project forward and the right tendon of her neck protrudes as she twists her body in one direction and turns her head sharply in the other.
The figure’s defiant, uplifted gaze extends her spiraling movement and conveys her perseverance through pain as the work’s rhetorical title, inscribed on the sculpture’s base, proclaims, “Pourquoi Naitre Esclave!”
Caravaggio & Bernini: The Discovery of Emotions features some of the artists’ greatest works, but also charts their influence on others. And that influence proved to be powerful and enduring. Caravaggistas spread across Europe like termites. And so we could call this exhibition a battle of the swaggerers, the pomp of a very eclectic brand of Viennese historicism facing off against the theatrical push and preen of two great Italians.
From almost the beginning, Caravaggio, that man who arrived in Rome in the 1590s, is completely outrageous. Whom did he think were his principal patrons? Churchmen, of course. Did they care that he depicted John the Baptist in an extraordinary painting, circa 1602, as a carefree, lascivious, curly-haired boy with the cheekiest of grins imaginable?
This fall, The Frick Collection will present the first-ever exhibition on the Florentine sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni (ca. 1440–1491), a renowned student of Donatello, a teacher of Michelangelo, and a great favorite of Lorenzo “il Magnifico” de’ Medici, his principal patron. More than twenty statues, reliefs, medals, and statuettes — constituting nearly his entire extant oeuvre — will be on view exclusively at the Frick, which houses the only sculptural figure by Bertoldo outside of Europe. The exhibition will highlight the ingenuity of the artist’s designs across media, including bronze, wood, and terracotta, and provide the first chance to fully explore longstanding questions of attribution, function, groupings, and intended display. Bertoldo di Giovanni: The Renaissance of Sculpture in Medici Florence will bring into focus the sculptor’s unique position at the heart of the artistic and political landscape in fifteenth-century Italy.