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1.2.05

"You're Rubensesque, My Dear" / "Ouch"

Peter Paul Rubens, Nicolaas Rubens Wearing a Coral Necklace, c. 1619

Peter Paul Rubens, Nicolaas Rubens Wearing a Coral Necklace, c. 1619

Other Reviews:

Peter Schjeldahl, Rubenessence: The making of a successful style (The New Yorker, February 7)

Paul Jeromack, Rubens Superstar (artnet.com, January 26)

Michael Kimmelman, From the Assembly Line of a Genius (New York Times, January 14)
Passing through New York this weekend, I headed straight to the Met to see the fabulous exhibit of the drawings of Peter Paul Rubens.

In a previous post (from December 19, 2004), I mentioned the drawing galleries at the new and improved MOMA, and how great it is to spend time with the sketches, watercolors, and many times finished works on paper. Works on paper don't often get the exposure I would like. It's an opportunity to see an artist's process and vulnurability. This exhibit is a rare chance to see 115 drawings from American and European collections at one time.

Although my wife will throw heavy objects at me whenever I call her Rubensesque, one could also see that as a compliment. In an era of waifs and buffed bodies, the full-figured beauties in Rubens's works have a graceful nobility. I would like to link images to this post, but the Met is misguidedly stingy with their Web site.

Plan to spend as much time as you possibly can or return visits. It was refreshing to see such beautifully drawn and executed compositions. The line, the luminous washes, the details and subtle gestures: Rubens is one of the best. I'm buying some brown ink today.

Before you leave the Met, stop in and have a visitation with the new Madonna and Child, by Duccio di Buoninsegna. Purchased for a mere $45 million, I believe it's their most expensive yet, and the gallery can be crowded with pilgrims paying homage. It is a beautiful icon piece at about 8 x 11 inches, the price is a little scary and a distraction, but it's causing a stir. With the winter baseball acquisitions in progress, one Duccio could trade for a few pitchers and maybe a relief hitter.

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