Carlo Crivelli — Renaissance master who challenged God

by AryanArtnews
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Who can blame the bald monks who are staring in awe? On the one hand, it’s a business as usual in Ancona in the 15th century. There are birds in the trees, ducks in the streams, and people potting up and down the winding streets past the church towards the icy blue sea. But above, magic is underway. Surrounded by golden mandorla, Madonna and Child float above Gabriele Ferretti’s head, under a giant apple and pear ribbon-shaped festoon that casts dark reflections into the sky.

Was it the Virgin who shook Gabriele’s equilibrium? Or is it a fruit line with unnatural shadows? Such garlands were commonplace in early Renaissance paintings and served to show the painter’s sophisticated perception of classical iconography. But when Carlo Crivelli adds those shadows in “The Blessed Gabriele’s Vision” (c1489), he makes the fruit more realistic than the sky behind and reduces the latter to a flat surface-shaped arrangement. Those gray bands correspond to the rabbit in which the painter wore a hat. Beyond the gap between the painter’s imagination and the world he represents, they act to remind us that painting is an expression: unrealistic, confessed, fake. But they also tell us that painters can play God by creating objects that are strong enough to block the light.

500 years ago when Magritte made fun of us that his pipe wasn’t a pipe, Crivelli (c1430 / 35-c1494) pointed out the same thing. His heretical approach was noteworthy. Many of his peers devoted themselves to imitating reality through new and fashionable perspective, with the accompanying three-dimensional depth.

Given his innovative trends, it should come as no surprise that Crivelli was welcomed at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, which is usually devoted to contemporary art. Forty years ago, Ikon’s director, Jonathan Watkins, was amazed by the Italian vision on a trip to the National Gallery. However, the Watkins concept at the exhibition won the £ 150,000 Ampersand Foundation Award in 2019 when the curator was able to realize his dream project.

“Virgin and Children” by Carlo Crivelli (c1480) © Victoria and Albert Museum

Working with Crivelli’s specialist and co-curator Amanda Hillium, Watkins didn’t waste any money.Given the right Shadow of the skyThe show collects nine works by Cliveri, including rentals from the National Gallery and Wallace Collection in London and the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. The cherry blossoms above are a side show dedicated to contemporary artist Susan Collis. Susan Corris is a gift to her own rival of optical magic.

Our introduction to the amazing world of Cliveri is “Madonna and Child” (c1480). Loaned by V & A, this work is a complex and flashy challenge that combines times, ideas, techniques and breathtaking boldness.Its glittering highlight is Madonna’s golden mantle, engraved with its ornate patterns of phoenix, pomegranate and grapes. Pastilia — Gesso relief — is a hallmark of the International Gothic style. However, this pretty and medieval woman traveled back in time to find herself sitting on the balcony in front of the chunky landscape of the sandy beach. These elements, which are classical metaphors of early Renaissance painting, require the illusion of depth and distance, allowing artists to adopt the mathematical methods of their time.

Crivelli takes full advantage of every opportunity. The Dangerous Rupture hurts the stone niche hosting Mary Magdalene in the painting of the Saints of Cliveri (c1491-94) on display opposite Madonna in the V & A. While most Renaissance painters sought to create a world that was as monumental and harmonious as heaven, the version of Cliveri’s paradise was fragile, volatile, and full of risks and paradoxes. I did.

Oil painting of a young woman in a bright red and green robe standing by a cracked stone doorway

“St. Mary Magdalen” by Carlo Crivelli (c1491-94) © National Gallery

The few facts we have about Crivelli’s life suggest that it may reflect his art. He was born in Venice in the early 1430s and is believed to have trained in the Vivarini family, who taught Gothic decoration, and in Padua, where Renaissance tendencies are probably embedded. In 1457, his world was sentenced to six months in prison for having a relationship with a married woman. By the late 1460s, after the spell in Dalmatia, he settled in the central part of Marche and stayed in his house until his death around 1494.

Sandwiched between dusty pine-covered mountains and the azure waters of the Adriatic Sea, the landscape of Marche has some of Crivelli’s paintings. However, the show’s masterpiece, The Annunciation with St. Emygdius (1486), is in the limelight in the sparkling travertine marble building of the Marche town of Ascoli Piceno., Lending from the National Gallery.

From vases, birds and leaves flowing across pillars and capital to Turkish rugs hung on balconies and peacock tails (golden feathers are a wonderful excess), sitting on a pediment, the horny pattern of the painting is small. “Compared to Madonna, the” kid “looks minimalist.By the time he painted it, Crivelli had a knack for spatial distance, drilling holes in colored marble. sottoportico Towards the horizon, then a barred window squeezes our view.

When she kneels in her open doorway to receive news, Mary becomes a bit player, but her supernatural fertilization is the only diagonal of the image constructed from orthogonal lines (single golden). It takes the form of a ray). Still, its slender, celestial beams are almost obscured by the wrath of shape and color around them, as if God were struggling to hear his voice on the painter’s earthly fanfare. ..

Oil painting of a woman kneeling in prayer as seen from the door

Carlo Crivelli’s Annunciation with St. Emygdius (1486) is a masterpiece of the Icon Gallery Show © National Gallery

Cliveri’s final coup is to pop cucumbers and apples on the stairs leading to Mary’s courtyard. Is the yellowed vegetable sticking out of your lips a symbol of a man? Looking at this picture, is it a sign that God is crossing the threshold to the universe? The painter’s universe? Or was it for Crivelli? Does Crivelli honor God’s Creator through his joyous offering? Or will you challenge him to the ultimate artistic duel?

In Birmingham, Cliveri is competing near the house. Hidden behind a temporary partition behind the gallery, there are two Cliveris for the company. At first glance, the mini-exhibition by contemporary artist Susan Collis is a mistake of the curator’s judgment. Composed of splattered blue overalls, a broken easel, a sloppy old cloth, a wooden broom, and a canvas covered with polokish dribble, this feels like a clumsy and derivative art student’s nonsense. ..

But take a closer look. The light taps and spills that stain those overalls are carefully hand-embroidered with thread. Broom paints are precious gems and metals studded with wood. In the picture, the studded texture evaporates at once, and it emerges like paper.

Crivelli would have wanted to know that he shared the stage with Corris. Commedia.. In his own time, few would have appreciated his crazy retinal japes. Many of his paintings were designed to be part of a much larger altarpiece, the details of which would have been visible to only a few lucky people, such as priests, donors, and patrons. Nonetheless, he transplanted the details that twist his brain with a droll. Did Crivelli predict that one day the world would catch up with his perception that linear time and rational space might be a real illusion? Like Gabriele, we are in awe.

Birmingham Icon Gallery, until May 29th

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