Art of the Baroque is the kind of class you only get a chance to take once. Instead of the normal slide memorization and lengthy, essay-filled tests, we get the chance to combine art history and museum studies, making direct connections between the 17th century art we are exploring in class and the contemporary art featured in the upcoming exhibition at the IDEA Space here at CC. Not only are we getting this unique opportunity to discover new relationships between historic and modern art, but our class will also be directly involved in the curation and execution of this new exhibit- Strange Beauty: Baroque Sensibilities in Contemporary Art. For an art history major like me, this is clearly an exciting course.
As a class of this nature is completely unprecedented, the setup is rather interesting, for as we learn about Baroque Art (which most of us don’t have much knowledge of aside from a brief overview in survey), we are also beginning in-depth research of a specific object. These designated 17th century objects are all paired with contemporary objects of the Strange Beauty exhibition that embody similar themes or characteristics. So, essentially, we will explore our single objects while studying the period of Baroque Art as a whole, and then finally be able to draw connections between our 17th century objects, elements of the Baroque style, and the correlating contemporary objects.
We all selected the objects we wanted to pursue ourselves—I chose the Baldacchino of St. Peter’s Basilica, a masterpiece of Baroque sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, which is paired with a beautiful contemporary instillation by Tsehai Johnson entitled To Dust She Returns. Both are definitely worth a Google Image search if you have the time. Bernini’s Baldacchino and I have already become involved in a close, personal relationship, as I have just completed a first level visual analysis, which is when you really get to know a piece through a detailed, observation-driven paper where you break down all the formal elements of the work: space, line, form, light, color, and composition. While in some cases you can immediately begin to dislike an object through a visual analysis, for me this is that blissful two-month period of a relationship, that stage where you’re getting to intimately know a new piece and discover all the little details that make them interesting, but you haven’t spent enough time with them yet to know if the relationship is really strong enough to last.
For now, I will enjoy the fresh adventure of these early days, and I am excited to see where this relationship, and this block, is headed.