A Met moment

Back at the Met I just emerged from the Picasso exhibit – whom I loathe – feeling the need to wash.

I was consoled by a Caravaggio at the exit.

I must now dash back into time as quickly as possible to the 14th century.


Duccio… from around 1300.

And note the similar balustrade in Bellini’s version, 200 years later.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. simo says:

    Have you ever checked out the Art Renewal Center website? There are art school specializing in classical training popping up everywhere. Art is experiencing a renewal too.

  2. doanli says:

    I do not like Picasso as a person either. He sounded like a horrible man—hope though that he made peace with our Lord and wasn’t damned.

    Beautiful paintings.

  3. mattmcg says:

    It’s a lovely painting, but it may or may not be a Duccio (or 13th c). There are serious doubts about its attribution.

  4. Most beautiful images of Our Lady and our Lord!
    Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God!

  5. seanl says:

    Caravaggio! I can think of few artists whose work I’d prefer to see after escaping from the Picasso exhibit. Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy is one of my favorite paintings.

  6. Random Friar says:

    Article on the remains of Caravaggio: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/europe/10333158.stm

  7. Latter-day Guy says:

    Perhaps it’s a silly question, but if you loathe Picasso, why go to that particular exhibit? Sounds a bit like masochism in oil-paint. ;-)

  8. anna 6 says:

    I am sure that you’ve spent some time down the street at the Frick Collection… where they proudly display wonderful Italian painters such as Bellini, Duccio and Gentile da Fabriano…not to mention Holbein’s Thomas More! The place is a jewel!

  9. Maltese says:

    Father, if you ever get to the “Mall” in DC, and get to the free Gallery, check out Giotto’s works there. Btw, my favorite Da Vinici is there as well. Raphael is also prevalent.

    Amazingly, if you go to the Art Museum of Detroit, they have absolutely amazing works, even though Detroit is fast becoming a metropolitan ghost town.

  10. Father,
    I do not like Picasso either! I loath most “modern art” too. I prefer paintings to be photo-realistic.

  11. Mike says:

    Exactly!… Outstanding!… I could not have said it better myself! I have always thought that Picasso wasted his talent!

  12. Oleksander says:

    19th century romanticism is my favorite, followed by rococo

    didnt like modern art until my neighbor had some in hers (house its self looks like something from star trek) and actually to my utter surprise liked how it fit in and added to the atmosphere, though the stuff wasnt stupid like picasso or dumb like a badly drawn urinal next to a tomato, more like interesting colors blended in cant really desribe it – they did have a cool fish statue

  13. Ellen says:

    I love Caravaggio. Evidently he was Not A Nice Man at all, but his art….!! Well, I can only hope he repented before his death.

    I’m not a hater of all modern art, I like Picasso’s blue period and I sort of like Jackson Pollack’s paintings.

  14. kallman says:

    Dear Father the Madonnas with child are beautiful. When I visited the Picasso exhibition in Barcelona it appeared to document the progressive moral decline of the artist over the years, actually quite disturbing to see as a chronological documentation
    Caravaggio traveling exhibition is marvellous KA

  15. Ame E. says:

    Have you ever checked out the Art Renewal Center website? There are art school specializing in classical training popping up everywhere

    Thank you for posting this… Turns out there’s one about 45 minutes from my home. I have a 15 year old who loves REALISTIC art… We have been looking for something that trains artists classically.. in the same way musicians are trained classically…

    Father, I agree about Picasso…

  16. introibo says:

    kneeling catholic, you beat me to it…..I was amazed when I first saw that First Communion painting by Picasso.

  17. AnAmericanMother says:

    Picasso doesn’t do much for me either.

    His early work is realistic, but stiff and extremely derivative. Other folks did it better . . . and he may well have known that he wasn’t going anywhere with realism, whether he didn’t have the facility or just didn’t have the patience that such work requires.

    Similarly, Jackson Pollock’s early work reveals that he could not paint at all in a representational style (he was a pupil of Thomas Hart Benton, and his early work looks like a bad imitation of Benton. He also couldn’t draw.) So he struck off into blobs and gobs of paint.

    As it happens, both enjoyed tremendous commercial and critical success with their forays into weirdness. That must have been a bitter pill to swallow, in a way.

    Goya is who Picasso wished he could be.

  18. AnAmericanMother says:

    Sargent HATED doing portraits!

    Have you seen his watercolors?

    Winslow Homer is another great watercolorist. His Adirondack sketches are incredible . . . but so are his Bahamas watercolors.

  19. irishgirl says:

    Nice pictures of Our Lady and Our Lord! Wasn’t the Duccio used for a Christmas stamp? Looks rather familiar….

    Carvaggio is very dramatic-he used a lot of light-and-shadow in his works.

    I don’t care for most modern art…no beauty or grace in them!

    Oooo, I’d love to go to the Met and the Frick Collection!

  20. AnAmericanMother says:

    The Frick collection is wonderful.

    It began life as a private collection (the Fricks who were connected with Carnegie Steel back in the day), and the bequest that created the museum has some pretty strong qualifications attached. So you’re not likely to see much in the way of modern trash over there.

  21. edwardo3 says:

    Tridentine Catholic:

    Without getting into an Art History dissertation, I am a bit confused by your statement about Photo-realism. Photo-realism as an artistic movement is strictly a mid to late twentieth century development. There was Roman Verism from the time of the late Republic, which is quite beautiful and disturbing for its detail, especially in statues which still have the ivory in the eyes. But from the time of the Caesars, until the development of color photography there was never any real attempt to paint life as it is. If you mean that you dislike abstract art, I would suggest that you look into el Greco, Zaurabon, Velasquez, and pretty much any art from the late Empire until the Reniassance, it may change your mind about abstraction in the service of the Faith.

    Also, we can’t wholesale throw out all contemporary art, Salvador Dali was able to do wonderful things with the art he produced later in life such as ” The Crucifixion” and “The Last Supper”. He came back to the faith later in life and his art from that period is a tremendous testament to his faith.

  22. AnAmericanMother says:

    edwardo, Tridentine,

    I wondered about that term too, but decided it meant ‘representational’ rather than the 20th c. movement.

    And re the ‘abstraction’ edwardo references — that’s not what most of us mean by ‘abstract art’. A little use of abstraction is normal in all painting, because when we’re looking at reality, our eyes and brain focus in certain things and ‘blur’ others. I think most of the masters you mention fall into that category – or it may just be the Spanish style (if you mean Zurbarán). Especially El Greco.

    Hyper-realism doesn’t look ‘natural’ because it’s not the way we see the world. A good example of this is the Preraphaelites. EVERYTHING in their pictures – even the smallest flower or grass stem – is painted in excruciating detail. The general effect is somewhat hallucinatory. I like it, but it isn’t “realistic”, it’s something else.

    I like some of Dali’s work too – his vertiginous “Crucifixion” is certainly not conventional, but it’s very well painted and very effective as well.

  23. Maltese says:

    Of course this is the finest painting done in any era, in any medium and by any artist:


  24. Why do you dislike Picasso, Fr. Z.? I particularly enjoy his Blue period works including his Visitation.

  25. AMDG-IHS says:

    Fr.z, I think you should begin regular art reviews… not necessarily academic in nature, but reflections. You could title it: “The Aesthetic Education of Catholics”. I think it would be great!

  26. Edwardo3 & AnAmericanMother,
    You are both correct. I am not an expert on art, other than I know what I like and dislike. I was trying to say that I only like paintings that are as realistic as the artist can paint given the materials and known techniques of the time. It seems that the goal was to paint something as accurately as possible and to make a picture that would appear to be like what we would call a photograph today, however be the image from the unique point-of-view and mind of the artist. I hope I explained it better, and am sorry for the confusion.

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