Saturday, July 18, 2009

a to the z...p is for pollaiuolo!

so, we all know that i like art, and i like systems of order. that means i was thinking i might do a little alphabet-based series of my favorite artists, because that is SO original. watch out, sister wendy. as i was thinking about the artists i might choose, i started to get overwhelmed. i mean, how am i to choose between bellmer, balla, botticelli, and bernini? and that's just the first four "b" names i came up with. i am therefore trying to narrow it down a bit by choosing artists whose work has profoundly affected me in some way. like in a walk into the gallery and want to die from awesomeness kind of way. and because i don't feel like writing about any of my "a" options, i'm getting a little crazy with it and starting with "p." (does this make using the alphabet kind of pointless?)

p is a nice letter. you know what starts with p? pollaiuolo. yeah, sesame street, you just try and sound that one out. take that, elmo. anyway, want to see what pollaiuolo looks like?

image from wright, the pollaiuolo brothers

before i assault you with a description of how jaw-dropping this work is, i just want to say that i scanned this image out of a ten-pound tome, and it was all for YOU. on to our pal antonio, who never receives the credit he is due, poor man. p was rocking it in the late fifteenth century in florence, and to be honest, i never thought that much about him until i was studying drawings at the uffizi and this one landed on the table in front of me. i loved it from the moment i saw it, and i continue to fight for its relevance with a vehemence i never thought i'd feel for pollaiuolo. please, dear and beloved reader, please click on the image so you can at least see it larger for a moment. then come back to me so that i can tell you that each line is almost incised into the paper, sketchy but sure, executed with a rapidity rarely found in drawing of this time. the subject matter helps, it's saint john the baptist, all decked out in his animal skins, looking, um, ascetic to say the least. the stroke of the pen, the quickness of the hand mirror the intense emotional tenor of the saint -- the image almost seems to vibrate. if you could only see the density of lines in the face, if you could see the way the tiniest dashes of ink create a face that is read as rugged and worn from the elements and the passage of time. this drawing rocks my world not just because it's aesthetically pleasing, but also because it's the kind of drawing that you can feel being drawn, you can see pollaiuolo thinking on the page, the hand and the mind skirmishing a bit, a little here, a little there. to have this drawing sitting on the table in front of me, in the city of its making, with nothing but the sacred air of the uffizi to separate us, is practically a religious experience for me. for a moment my pen could be pollaiuolo's. i am home, i understand.

and now you see why i'm writing a dissertation on this whole business, because obviously i can't shut up. if i keep at it, no one is going to read this blog, even people who are obligated to read it. i am talking to you, m.d. forgive me, i just love it so, and that can't be a bad thing, right?

soundtrack: matt & kim; sophie chewing on her bone


  1. I really adore that after all this time you are still passionate about what you study.

  2. It's a wonderful thing that you love it so.