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Masterpieces by Caravaggio, Bernini, Rubens, Velázquez, and Rembrandt

By Kahren Jones Arbitman

An artistic phenomenon occurred in Western Europe during the 17th century never seen before or since. An explosion of “new” art of the highest order appeared simultaneously in countries large and small. Heretofore, it was common for a single “center” to create a specific style, which then radiated, with variations, throughout the continent. Renaissance style, for example, was an Italian creation. Gothic was French. Impressionism’s origins were definitely French. Expressionism was largely Germanic. Pop Art? The United States claims that one.

“A Baroque Sampler”
Mon, Aug 17, 5pm
Bellas Artes
Hernández Macias
100 pesos
Donation to the San Miguel International Music Festival

The 17th century simply did not conform to the usual pattern. What evolved in this unique century were independent styles led by undisputed artistic geniuses. In Italy, early in the century, Caravaggio developed a new naturalism that simultaneously shocked and awed its viewers. Later, Bernini created an explosive Counter-Reformation style so exuberant that it still defines Rome. Rubens captured the elegance of the Flemish court, while in Spain Velázquez painted some of the most beautiful portraits of some of the ugliest princes ever to sit on a throne. And then there was Rembrandt, living in the newly created Dutch Republic. Working without the patronage of either a monarch or the church, Rembrandt created a body of works that has never been surpassed. Together this handful of artists produced paintings, sculpture, architecture, and prints that would make everyone’s all-time list of World’s Greatest Art.

Recognizing that an hour-long lecture can present only a taste of the extraordinary art produced by these masters, this “Baroque Sampler” will focus on a single work by each artist. What were the artistic precedents of each? What were the specific challenges? And why were the solutions so brilliant that each is now considered an undisputed masterpiece?

The lecture takes place Monday, August 17 at 5pm in the concert hall in Bellas Artes. Tickets are 100 pesos. All proceeds benefit the San Miguel International Music Festival. Tickets are available at the Festival office on the second floor of the Bellas Artes, or at the door.

This lecture is part of the series entitled Art:Works! Insights by Art Historians, that I created with Hope Palmer to support the San Miguel International Music Festival, which this August celebrates its 37th consecutive season. Please mark your calendar for the next lecture August 24, “Frida’s Footsteps: The Legacy of a Painter’s Painter” by Hope Palmer. All lectures will be held at 5pm, Bellas Artes concert hall.


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