It’s only the end of first week, but it feels more like the end of the first month on the block plan. Our class started out seven days ago with almost no previous knowledge of the subject, and now we are deep into the core issues of the Baroque period and the research on our respective pieces. On Thursday, we took a little field trip over to the IDEA Space to meet Jessica Larsen, the curator, and discuss the role of museums, their missions, and historical development. An interesting debate over current perceptions of museums and the relation of power and art ensued, and I think we really discovered some of the key issues that the museum industry is grappling with today. The class ended with a brief overview of our goals for the exhibition, and both Jessica and Rebecca (our professor, at CC we get to call them by first name!) encouraged all of us students to begin brainstorming ideas for the exhibition. It will be interesting to see what creative concepts our class generates; I think we have potential for some innovative, out-of-the-box approaches.
Our individual research projects are progressing from the visual analysis stage to a more comprehensive look at our works, examining related objects to discover where our piece fits into the tradition, or where it breaks from it. I chose to analyze the relationship between Bernini’s Baldacchino and three other baldachins and ciboriums, with dates ranging from 80 BCE to 1285. These comparisons enabled me to ascertain in what sense the Baldacchino was innovative and revolutionary, and where Bernini drew from the conventional norm. It is essential to understand how your piece fits into the tradition before you make any claims to its exceptional style or the artist’s groundbreaking genius. The next step, then, is developing a solid thesis, and it is this pivotal statement, which will determine the direction of my research, that dominates my thoughts as this first week comes to a close.