UK

UK

Eternity and time between Michelangelo and Caravaggio

FORLÌ, SAN DOMENICO MUSEUMS
February 10th– June 17th 2018
The aim of this exhibition is to investigate the transformation of the values of the arts in the era of 16th century Reformation. Two symbolic dates can be chosen: 1527 and 1610.
No other historical period so forcefully demands reconstruction, through a precise reviewing of the terms appearing in the intricate cultural, political, and spiritual events driven by highly conflicting forces, as the period between the Sack of Rome (1527) and the death of Caravaggio (1610); between the beginning of the Protestant Reformation (1517-1520) and the Council of Trent (1545-1563); between Michelangelo's Universal Judgment (1541) and Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius.
No period, and specifically as regards its highest values, presents such a variety of aspects, corresponding to a substantial disparity in spiritual situations, ideals, and aesthetic and philosophical orientations.
Giorgio Vasari was the first to perceive the renewal of artistic language in the first half of the sixteenth century. Prompted by the greatness of Michelangelo, he judged the new ideals of “grace”, “prestezza” [“quickness”] and “speed” of artists who would later be categorised as “mannerists”, as competitive with classic models and standards.
A century later, Giovan Pietro Bellori would give a contrasting judgment of much of the painting produced in Italy after Raphael's death (1520), depreciating the great “practical work” of those who, “abandoning the study of nature, spoiled art with the manner of their painting, or should we say a fantastic idea, supported by practice, not imitation”. He claimed that elements of new positivism were to be found only with the end-century artistic reforms, linked to the “chromatic delight” of Federico Barocci and the “evocative poetics” of Carracci.
The drama and charm of a century is played out between Vasari's and Bellori's judgments; a century composed of the disturbing fragments of an extraordinary twilight moment, and a new luminist horizon. It is the twilight period, in the years when the Council of Trent was concluding and affirming a new orientation that would impact also on art, the closing of that golden age known as the Italian Renaissance.
Michelangelo showed no indulgence for the existential and spiritual meaning of art and its representative forms. In the climate of those years the artist’s desperate quest was each time marked by misunderstanding and conflict, and he was suspected of being pro-Protestantism because of his links to the spiritual milieu of Vittoria Colonna and Cardinal Reginald Pole.
The theme of nudity in Michelangelo’s works aroused a debate revolving about the body, the naked body, its representation and its beauty, that then became the focus of a dispute between the sacred and the secular that was to affect models of art and even the places where art works were hosted, to the extent that the principal centres of art collection were affected, from the European courts to the Belvedere Courtyard at the Vatican Palace where the most famous ancient figures of naked pagan gods resided.
The social and religious climate was changing rapidly. The anti-Romanticism of the Reformation, coupled with political motives, quickly veered towards iconoclastic controversy. And while Luther partially tolerated religious images about Christ's life, Calvin strictly forbade it. The request to the Church of Rome for greater spiritual rigour, on the one hand produced a renewed defence of sacred images, while on the other hand it required a different attention to the composition and representation of images.
Control over artists was still present, especially in some areas of catholicity. This can explain some of the best-known episodes of censorship that concerned not only the issues surrounding Michelangelo, but also Federico Zuccari’s altarpieces that so displeased Philip II, or the Last Supper of Veronese, or even the more complex events involving Caravaggio. But overall the phenomenon was not homogenous.
The drive to adhere to what was “true” or a “true representation” can be primarily ascribed to Cardinals Gabriele Paleotti and Carlo Borromeo and ended up developing a resumption, and almost a determination, of the autonomy of historical and naturalistic studies.
In the years following the Council of Trent, a new type of altarpiece evolved in the territories that remained Catholic, characterized by a new interweaving of religious sentiment, sensory experience and narrative model. The different manner of understanding devotion led to new forms of art and a new strategy of communication. The syntax of the arts became necessary for the solicitation of the senses, of sight and above all, of hearing.
New schools and approaches thus developed. From Valeriano and Pulzone’s attempt to create “a timeless art” in Rome, to Titian’s modelling with colour and tone and the naturalism of the Carracci, with their “affectionate Lombard timbre”, as Longhi calls it.
But daily life also surfaces from the glitter of the extreme Renaissance, with the new choice of a sentimental temperature that seems to interpret the innovative sense of the Council of Trent, not as a Counter Reformation but as a “Catholic Reform” that must speak to all hearts creating a new form of piety and devotion.
In Italy, the most challenging battle for painting and for a modern approach to life was fought in the commissions of sacred paintings. The main protagonist in this fight is Caravaggio. He attempted a radical innovation in their religious significance, expressing a deeply popular religion.
From Michelangelo’s last work to Caravaggio the exhibition reveal an aesthetic thread of references and innovations that will engender a new age.  A unique itinerary that shows masterpieces of Raffaello, Rosso Fiorentino, Lorenzo Lotto, Pontormo, Sebastiano del Piombo, Correggio, Bronzino, Vasari, Daniele da Volterra, El Greco, the Carracci, Federico Barocci, Titian, Federico Zuccari, Guido Reni, Domenico Beccafumi and Rubens.

Information and booking
tel. +39.199.15.11.34
tel. +39.0543.36217 (groups only)
mostraforli@civita.it

Visiting hours
From Tuesday to Friday: 9.30 am - 7.00 pm
Saturday, Sunday, holidays, April 2nd, 23th and 30th: 9.30 am - 8.00 pm
The box office closes one hour before time stated.
Closed on Mondays.

Tickets
Adult € 12
Reduced fee € 10: for groups (more than 15 people),
children 15-18, senior (over 65), special conventions
holders (see the list at the entrance of museum), students.
Reduced fee € 5: children 6 -14
Free: children under 6 years, one guest for each group,
helpers, journalists, tour guide, disabled.
Guided tours in foreign languages € 110

Ticket online

How to get to Forlì
By plain: Guglielmo Marconi Airport in Bologna
(via Triumvirato, 84)
telephone +39.051.647.96.15
www.bologna-airport.it

By train: main north-south rain links through the
Milano-Bologna-Ancona and
Milano-Bologna-Firenze-Roma lines

By car: motorway A14 from Bologna to Rimini, exit Forlì;
Strada Statale n. 9 (via Emilia)

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