Exhibition on the birth of the modern landscape
I would like to strongly recommend a current exhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan which I visited today with my family and runs until 2 May 2012.
The exhibition concentrates on the work of Titian, although also features many of his contemporaries including Bellini, Giorgione, Veronese, Jacopo Bassano, Marco Basaiti, Cima da Conegliano, Giovanni Cariani, Cerchia di Andrea Previtali, Lorenzo Lotto, Domenico Campagnola, Lambert Sustris, Giovanni Demio, Tintoretto, Paolo Fiammingo, Ludovico Pozzoserrato and William Dyce. The final painting of the exhibition by Dyce is a mind blowing depiction of Titian as a young boy while he contemplates the Madonna in black-and-white, with his flowers and berries ready for the preparation of painting colours to hand:
The theme of the exhibition is the relationship between humanity and the environment. These painters fundamentally changed perceptions of man’s relationship with nature. They even dared to present nature (animals) as the protagonists instead of man, as in Jacopo Bassano’s painting Pastorale (about 1568):
Moreover, there was a tension between painting the reality of landscapes and their relationship with man as mediated through mythology. Despite moments when these paintings touch upon the real landscapes of the Veneto countryside where I live and other wonderful natural landscapes, more often they represent ancient mythology more than natural reality. But they also explore the hinterland of Venice, where many of these exceptionally talented painters hailed from.
Although this exhibition expresses many contemporary preoccupations with the environment, this should not discourage engagement with it. Nature was rarely idolized as it has been since the nineteenth century. Instead, nature was often depicted as perilous and dangerous by Cariani and Titian himself: