The waterlilies of Claude Monet

Yesterday I saw the new film, The Waterlilies of Monet, at the Odeon theater in Florence.  I didn’t know much about the film, just that it featured Monet and his waterlily paintings.  That was enough to get me there.  I’m happy I saw it.

The film is a bit strange, part mystical, part historical.  I don’t think it will have wide appeal, but it appealed to me.  Here’s info from the press release, in first Italian and then a rough translation. And the film’s trailer.

Milano – Per soli tre giorni, il 26, 27 e 28 novembre, in esclusiva nei cinema LE NINFEE DI MONET. UN INCANTESIMO DI ACQUA E DI LUCE. Un percorso, narrato da Elisa Lasowski de Il trono di spade, che ci porta alla scoperta del più grande progetto pittorico di Claude Monet: le Grandes Décorations, le ninfee.

For just three days, on November 26th, 27th and 28th, exclusively at MONET’s WATERLILIES cinemas. A SPELL OF WATER AND LIGHT. A journey, narrated by Elisa Lasowski of The Game of Thrones, leads us on a discovery of Claude Monet’s greatest pictorial project: the Grandes Décorations, the water lilies.


Il film, prodotto da Ballandi Arts e Nexo Digital, condurrà il pubblico a Parigi, tra il Musée Marmottan, il Musée de l’Orangerie e il Musée D’Orsay, a Giverny con la Fondation Monet, la casa e il giardino dell’artista, e tra i magnifici panorami di Étretat. A guidare gli spettatori alla scoperta dei luoghi, delle opere e delle vicende del maestro, ci sarà Elisa Lasowski, attrice ne Il Trono di Spade, mentre la consulenza scientifica sarà affidata allo storico e scrittore Ross King, autore del best seller Il mistero delle ninfee. Monet e la rivoluzione della pittura moderna, edito in Italia da Rizzoli.


The film, produced by Ballandi Arts and Nexo Digital, takes the public from  Paris, between the Musée Marmottan, the Musée de l’Orangerie and the Musée D’Orsay, to Giverny with the Fondation Monet, the artist’s house and garden, and shows the magnificent views of Étretat. Guiding the audience’s discovery of the places, works and events of the master, is Elisa Lasowski, actress in The Game of Thrones, while the scientific advice will be entrusted to the historian and writer Ross King, author of the best seller The mystery of water lilies; Monet and the revolution of modern painting, published in Italy by Rizzoli.

Il grande progetto di Monet
Seguendo il percorso della Senna, il film prende le mosse da Le Havre, dove Monet trascorre il primo periodo della sua vita artistica, e risale il fiume verso gli altri paesi dove ha dimorato: Poissy, Argenteuil, Vétheuil, e infine Giverny. Qui, a 70 anni di età e ormai quasi cieco a causa della cataratta, mentre piovono le bombe della Prima Guerra Mondiale, Monet concepisce il progetto di dipinti di enormi dimensioni, nei quali lo spettatore possa immergersi completamente. Il soggetto, le sue amate nymphéas. Dopo dieci anni, nel Musée de l’Orangerie di Parigi, la sua speranza trova finalmente il giusto compimento, nelle magnifiche sale ovali da lui stesso disegnate. Nel maggio del 1927, l’amico George Clemenceau inaugura finalmente il museo dedicato alla Grand Décoration.

The great project by Monet
Following the route of the Seine, the film starts from Le Havre, where Monet spends the first period of his artistic life, and goes up the river to the other areas where he lived: Poissy, Argenteuil, Vétheuil, and finally Giverny. Here, at 70 years of age and now almost blind because of the cataract, while the bombs of the First World War are raining down, Monet conceives the project of paintings of enormous dimensions, in which the viewer can immerse himself completely. The subject, his beloved waterlilies. After ten years, in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, his paintings find superb fulfillment, in the magnificent oval rooms he himself designed. In May 1927, his friend George Clemenceau finally inaugurated the museum dedicated to Grand Décoration.

Bernini, the film

I was fortunate enough to see the newly-released film, Bernini, in the Odeon Theatre in Florence this week.  OMG, it is fantastic.

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The director of this beautiful guided tour through the Villa Borghese in Rome was directed by Francesco Invernizzi; Anna Coliva, Luigi Ficacci, and Andrea Bacchi are key presenters. Titolo originale: Bernini. Genere Documentario – Italia, 2018.

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From the movie release, we are informed: La selezione di oltre 60 capolavori in esposizione alla Villa Borghese di Roma è stata definita dagli esperti di arte come il ritorno a casa di Bernini. A cinque secoli dalla nascita dei maestosi gruppi scultorei dell’artista, attraverso riprese inedite ed esclusive, i protagonisti di questa grande Mostra raccontano ed analizzano i dettagli delle opere giunte dai più prestigiosi musei del mondo per questa straordinaria occasione.

The selection of more than 60 masterworks on exhibition at the Villa Borghese in Rome has been defined by experts as a return to the home of Bernini. Five centuries after his  birth, we appreciate the majestic sculptural groups Bernini created, through the unprecedented and exclusive shots. Experts of this great exhibition recount and analyze the infinite details of the sculpture, with Bernini works borrowed from the most prestigious museums in the world for this extraordinary event.

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“No artist defined 17th-century Rome more than Gian Lorenzo Bernini did, working under nine popes and leaving an indelible mark on the Eternal City. And there is probably no better place to appreciate his talent and genius than the Borghese Gallery in Rome, the villa — now a museum — built by his first patron, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, where Bernini revealed his talent for capturing tension and drama in stone. But during the remarkable exhibition titled “Bernini,” visiting may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” The New York Times

I finally go to the insane asylum

It finally happened.  I snapped, and needed to get to the asylum asap!

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Actually, I’m kidding.  But for a while yesterday I thought I might lose my marbles.  I was joining a very sophisticated Florentine educational institution for a guided tour of the old grounds of Florence’s historic psychiatric hospital and it seemed as if fate was against my plan.  (Maybe she thought they would keep me if I got there?). It took 2 buses and a taxi to get me to a place I could have walked to easier and faster. I made it just in time to join the tour.  Live and learn; next time I’ll walk.

So, the place: as you can see in the plaque above, I was about to enter the Manicomio di Firenze, ospedale psichiatrico. Founded by Vincenzo Chiarugi, the psychiatric hospital was opened in 1890 (an earlier hospital was on Via San Gallo).

Almost 100 years later, in 1968, this hospital located on Via di San Salvi #12, was shuttered.  The city has been attempting to refill the site with various cultural and non-profit organisations ever since.  It would be a shame not to use this large campus, composed of 32 hectares and housed in 20 buildings, for something.  It is prime property on the outer eastern edge of the city. You can find it with the big red pin below:

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Below is a map of the San Salvi grounds, showing how the buildings are laid out and a key to how they are/will be used:

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Here’s how the guided tour was advertised to an erudite audience:

“Come with us to walk along the tree-lined avenues of (hospital) San Salvi, a unique place immersed in the city and at the same time quite isolated. Here, in what was once a very active psychiatric hospital– the “crazy” poet Dino Campana was here for a while–as well as important and respected people involved with the field of psychiatry.   Today – among the various cultural associations that have a home here – La Tinaia cooperative and the Chille della Balanza theatrical group make it a social and artistic destination, thanks to shows, events and meetings.”

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day in Florence, following a week of continual rain, and we viewed the campus in this amazing autumn sunlight:

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Two well-known Italian photographers, Carla Cerati and Gianni Berengo Gardin, documented, in chilling photographs, the story of San Salvi and its inmates, with “harsh images of women and men prisoners, jailed, bound, punished, humiliated, reduced to suffering and need.” If you Google Manicomio Firenze, you can find vintage photographs of the hospital and the patients.  It was gruesome.

As I was leaving the campus, this old rusted iron gate seemed to sum up the history of the place for me.  The key hole especially records the memory of patients locked in.

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The (almost) unknown Florentine museum attached to the refectory of San Michele a San Salvi

Yesterday I posted about Andrea del Sarto’s Last Supper in Florence.  Attached to the same building is a small but fine museum of 15th and 16th century art, in addition to the main event of the Last Supper.

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I might lose my membership in the world of art historians because while I took pictures of a few of the artworks that grabbed my attention in this smallish museum, I didn’t take adequate pictures (or, god forbid, hand-written notes) of the labels that identify the artist.  From the depths of my heart, I apologize.  It was a hot, hot, hot day in Florence and I simply failed to live up to my creed. :-)

 

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But this odd painting certainly did grab my attention!  It is, I assume, a vision of Saint Mary in heaven, bestowing a string of pearls? beads? to someone below her on earth, I would guess?

Anyway, what I liked is the bodiless angels floating around Mary in the shape of a mandorla (almond).  Their heads and wings are kind of creepy, floating as they do around Mary.

 

And, speaking of being surrounded by cherubim and seraphim, look at this oil painting!

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Again, I would be fired as a curator, but I don’t know who painted this work. (But I know where the label is if I need the info; it’s right beside the painting for goodness sake! My art historical training is playing out in this post, as a kind of Catholic guilt.  I am smiling as I write this silly thing.)

But, check out the multitudes surrounding Christ on the cross, above whom is God the Father, and below is Mary and 2 others.

 

But, as entertaining to me as the 2 works above were, the one that really gave me a jolt was this:

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It represents, of course, the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriele tells the Virgin Mary that she will bear the Son of God.  I’ve seen thousands of renditions of this scene, which one of the most hopeful moments in Christian art.

But, what I have never seen before is Gabriel standing on 2 little clouds, one for each foot, that makes it look like he is hover-boarding up to Mary!

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Crazy funny to me!

There are many fine works of painting and some sculpture in this fine museum.

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Vai!  You’ll be glad you did!

Vasari Corridor

You can find plenty online about this amazing passageway that connected the Medici from their Palazzo Pitti all the way to Palazzo Vecchio above the city of Florence. It’s tricky finding good pictures that show how the corridor connects, but the following drawing recently came to my attention and its a good one:

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Here’s how an actual part of the corridor appears from the Uffizi:

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