Adventures / Art / Life

Weekday Adventure – Renaissance Art at the NGA

There’s something fun about sneaking off from work to go and have a little adventure.  Quite frankly even meeting a friend for coffee can be fun when you should be working and I like to try to do something fun as often as I can.

Mother and Child...and pear

Hopefully my boss isn’t reading this as I confess that today I snuck off with my mother to go to the National Gallery of Australia and see the much talked about Renaissance exhibit.  We had originally planned to go on Sunday afternoon but when the time came we realised that it was a terrible idea as the exhibit was bound to be packed.  We thought we’d be sneaky and go as soon as it opened on Tuesday (today) and I’d make up the work time on the other end of the day.

It was an excellent plan and mostly worked.  Unfortunately, even first thing in the morning, parking was extremely hard to come by and I ended up in a slightlydubious spot leaving both of us wondering the whole time if we’d come back to a parking ticket (we didn’t – yay!).  On the other hand, the exhibit had plenty of people but was by no means packed.  We avoided the guided tour which had the biggest clump of people and for the most part we didn’t have to wait to look at anything or fight our way to the front. Just the odd person who has no concept of not blocking the view of others and you find them even when there’s almost no one around.

The Artwork is stunning.  Some of these artists were amazing.  The Renaissance and the Impressionist periods are my favourites.  While I can appreciate some modern art (some of it just weird though, let’s be honest) for the most part when I think of artistic genius, this is what I think of.

I should probably preface the rest of this post by saying if you aren’t interested in religious art, this is not the exhibit for you.  We were surprised.  When I think of the Renaissance I think of Titan and Botticelli and frankly I thought they mostly painted nude or semi-nude women.  I think of fat cherubs, dashing men and intriguing portraits.  Sure there’s a lot of religious art in that period, I just didn’t realise it was all in the one exhibit. 

Still, I can absolutely appreciate the craftmanship of these artworks even though for many of them the scenes were not really pleasant.  I just didn’t expect to see so much of Mary and baby Jesus.  Especially Mary for whom it seemed like half the pictures had her with at least one breast out.  Assuming they were trying to depict closeness but it seemed odd to me to have such a venerated religious figure quite so…errr exposed.

The sheer range of looks were interesting too.  When you see so many depictions of Mother and Child together it’s interesting to compare the looks the artist gave them.  At least two had them as blondes, in several they had curly red hair.  Given that they were not from blondes or redheads area of the world, it was pretty amusing.  Of course they were depicted in the style of the time they were painted, not when and where they lived.  Makes them easier to relate to I assume.

My mother was a bit horrified by the baby Jesus’ as a whole.  Not one of the babies was cute.  Wouldn’t Jesus have been one of the most beautiful babies born (given his perfection and all).  For the most part these babies were not attractive and the range of ages portrayed was staggering.  Also given that these artists were experts are proportion, I found it really odd that for some reason the babies were always strangely proportioned.  Perhaps that means something and I’ve missed it.

Even though the exhibit was not what we expected you have to appreciate the skill.  There were a few portraits that were amazing and some of the religious iconography was stunningly beautiful in it’s colour and vivacity.  However, my favourite was not one of the more vivid pieces,  which surprised me because that’s usually what I lean towards.  It was instead the picture of a young girl, unnamed but clearly born into wealth.  The small picture is towards the end and it just draws you in.  She is charming and glowing with health (and money).  It’s a beautiful piece.

One of the other highlights which is absolutely worth a mention is the room they have designed for children.  Even non parents know that children have a short attention spans and wandering around art can get boring to them even when the art is interesting.  The children’s room has been designed to match the style of the Renaissance Era.  There was a section done up as if you were walking down a long hallway and an alcove that had blocks done up as houses on a hill that looked just like a piece of art, but there were blocks to play with.  I was tremendously impressed on the work done to make the room both interesting and fun.

Naturally enough before you leave there is always a little shop (Doctor Who would be so proud as he loves the little shop).  I always get sucked in and as usual I cannot resist buying a notebook, which would be fine except I bought notebooks at Officeworks the day before and it’s not like I’m short of them.  If there’s ever a world notebooks shortage, come to my house.

Notebooks aside there was the usual range of cards and posters etc but there were also some housewares including a Recipe book, pasta sauce and Olive Oil.  Yep you guessed it.  Extra Virgin.

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