When one arrives in Italy to commune with art history it might as well be in a desert without a natural compass. There is no guidance system, there is only Italy’s cultural tapestry splayed across every fiber of it’s boot. You numerously thrust your diving rod into the depths to locate your baseline. There is only an imaginary baseline.
One might launch his/her life into art. At first it seems like child’s play. Yet in art like life, we learn there is no greatness without a price to pay. I think It is a dream to commune with greatness for artists. To engage in a symbiotic marriage is an act of clarity. The act doesn’t make the art. But the clarity allows you to see the past in your mind, and live it in the present.
For centuries, Italy has embraced the burden of beasts who wanted to live as artists. Those beasts live in her past and present. Fernando Botero is such a beast.
Many years have past since I last photographed Botero. I came to Pietrasanta to revisit our last dance in Paris. A dance in Paris now becomes an aria in Italy. The two worlds need each other, but they live apart.
My appointment with Botero is now a greeting of friends. There is a bit of magic to an embrace of old friends. I guess it is “what is mine is yours”. I am certainly a bit overwhelmed by his residence. The villa sits above the town like a deserving king. It befits his life lived. He is among the most famous contemporary artists in the region. Unlike our first meeting, I find that he has found his comfort in his skin, He no longer needs to impress.
We sit for lunch and relish the view. If you allow yourself to be transported in time and ignore the tourism, and arts and crafts you can almost smell the marble being transported throughout the regions. Artists from around the world come to Pietrasanta to feel the spirit of Michelangelo. Yes they could stand under or in front of his great paintings. But to hear the call of carrara marble under siege must be exhilarating.
We plan our time together. First I will make a series of portraits to celebrate this time together. Then the next day we will drive to his (Michelangelo’s) foundry.
The portraits at the villa are like framing stills for something cinematic. There is the artist and his work. Then his movements with brush and canvas. Then we are transported through a portal of time. We are in a fog of Italian centuries. It is a beautiful motion.
I have for sometime wished that was my lasting visual memory. But the next day we visit art history. We drive the 30 minutes to the carrara foundry. My host cannot be more generous. He shared his extraordinary treasures of places to dine and see when I am not with him. Sometimes those moments are even more delectable when one adheres to the suggestive voice of a friend.
We arrive at the foundry. I cannot appropriately explain my gasp. But when art is at its best, it needs to be seen in quietude. The replica of “David’s”penis was intact!!!
Yes a funny thought. But more, Italian sculpture for the past 600 years lives here! It was just a novice’s gasp...but one I will enjoy for a lifetime.
Romance seemed to die like a car wreck on the highway. The foundry is no different than a local car mechanics shop. Has my romantic reverie for another time another way of living an artist quest been shattered? Nope! But jeez, so much cheap magazine pornography strewn from wall to wall. “David” and porn? Maybe. I guess the experience of art as a view into God’s church was squashed a bit.
I made my images of the Rabelaisian sculpture. Giant bronzes stood powerfully. Fernando was the proud father. I embraced my good fortunes. Life was good.
I think experiences can be ephemeral as in fashionable artists, or possibly my Botero experience will live with me as Michelangelo has lived with others for a lifetime. There was a prevailing wind like a lilting aria drifting through my snapshot of time spent with the artist. I no longer danced, but merely inhaled an artist’ dream.