Saturday, February 20, 2010

beauty and violence

Is it a human dilemma - the work of beauty entangled with articulation of violence.

In this first of two beautiful works in this blog entry we see one of the earliest sculptures in this piazza, completed in 1583, specifically able to be seen from any direction, a new notion in design and execution. Consider this as an example of how the world, at the time, began to see, began to think, began to imagine, construct, speak of matters, in new and multiple directions. And this work balances - something still not often achieved 400 years later in art, science, politics, ethics or other ambition.

Some person of importance later decided this work should be called The Rape of the Sabine, but what it really is is a depiction of the young man trampling the old man to get the girl. Call it rough it you are old, call it appropriate if it is more appropriate for the young man and woman to be together. But did if have to get the rape label, or does that reflect pre-viagra aged man dribble, or some customary preference for the addition of violence to entertainment. Is there some statement about the difficulty of capturing beauty?

a beautiful sculpture...

Then this item below, also in the next Loggia dei Lanzi, depicts a bloke who is dragging off a girl, having done in her boyfriend and now snarling at her whinging mother... Wikipedia says: "The group The Rape of Polyxena, is a fine diagonal sculpture by Pio Fedi from 1865"

See in the photos below the extraordinary detail of the large and beautiful sculpture in marble, notably the skirt, see also (click to enlarge) the sinuous texture arising from the natural colour of the marble.

The execution is exceptional; yet there seems to me to have been little change in general style from the first to the second of these works, over 300 years; an upward shift in the R-Rating violence content, even more evident in other work in the Loggia.

If one notes in the context of modern war, those wars for which we hanker and in which we dabble, that the poisons of war in which one dips one's military 'might' tend to spread back into and poison the society of the protagonists, then note that over so many centuries central Italy had been host to so many princes in hilltop castles plotting mischief and survival. Note also that this work of 1865 is put in place five years after the plebiscite by which Tuscany (of which Florence capital) votes overwhelmingly to join a united Kingdom of Italy under the King formerly of Savoy up in the French corner of Italy, and Florence is now, for a time, the capital of a united kingdom of Italy.

... And still the highest art form reflects the desire to murder the other bloke and drag off his girl, kill her mother if she gets in the way. Hardly a multidirectional, balanced perspective on life.

Also, perhaps some reader has the time to revise this Wikipedia discussion of the rape of the Sabine women, which says that they weren't really getting raped, they were being acquired as wives by abduction.

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