Friday, January 12, 2018

Rome Journal: Chicks With Dicks

"Sleeping Hermaphroditus" by Bellini (photograph: Hallie Cohen)
Bernini created feats of stone. He literally painted in stone, carving space into it. He was famous for his oversized hands. In “The Rape of Proserpina"(1621-2),” currently on exhibit at the Bernini show in the Galleria Borghese, the sculptor shows flesh giving way to the pressure of the God’s fingers. In “Apollo and Daphne” the sculptor  depicts the goddess turning into a tree as she seeks to escape her abductor. The curators compare Michelangelo’s “David” to that of Bernini remarking on the illusion of mobility that Bernini evokes. His “Sleeping Hermaphroditus,” (1620), the reconstruction of a Roman work, is so much a statue come to life, it’s a turn on. If you’re into chicks with dicks you’ll give pause when you come to the erotically posed figure with breasts and a penis. The comforter tufted in marble on which the Bernini figure lies is another instance in which the artist uses his talent to defy the laws of physics. The intertwining of figures that occurs in pieces like “Faun Teased by Children” and “Aeneus Flees Troy With His Father On His Shoulder” illustrates how the dynamic baroque style became a vehicle for narrative and storytelling in Bernini’s hands. Bernini never finished “Truth Unveiled By Time,” (1646-52) which had been created as a vindication of his talent after an earlier failure. Truth is revealed in the luscious naked figure, but there wasn't time for time. Bernini redeemed himself before he had a chance to finish the work. Nothing was left to prove. And the current show features some practical advise from the master. Here is Bernini on the portrait: "To succeed in a portrait you must set a pose and try to represent it well. The best moment you can choose for the mouth is either when one has just finished speaking or when one is beginning to do so."

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