Thursday, October 31, 2019

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is an ancient Catholic basilica that is considered to be the largest of the churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Rome. I
Built on a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Cybele, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore was built in the mid-fourth century under the orders of Pope Liberius. According to legend, the Virgin appeared before the Pope with the instructions for building the church, and the shape of the floor was designed based on a miraculous snowfall.
There are beautiful mosaics from the medieval period and some Ionic columns from other ancient Roman buildings, as well as splendid fifth-century mosaics.
It had  a lovely atmosphere.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Elisabetta Catalano - photographer

One of the reasons  for going to MAXXI  was to see the exhibition  Between Photography and Performance - showing the work of  Elisabetta Catalano.

She worked with performance artists and some of the great names of the last century including Joseph Beuys, Fabio Mauri, Vettor Pisani and Cesare Tacchi
It was really interesting see the proofs that she used to choose the images that were then published.
Below Cesare Tacchi paints himself - or reveals himself by gradually wiping off the white film on a sheet of glass - a painting in real time

Below the proofs for a performance evoking Berlin and the era prior to the war.

And below a famous image of Joseph Beuys holding a jar
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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Maria Lai - Holding Hands at Maxxi

Tenendo per mano  (holding hands) was the name of the exhibition of works by an icionic Italian artist Maria Lai. She started her career in the 1960s and she was active until she died in 2013.

The works included woven items, mixed media landscapes, sewn clothes, sewn books, looms and all sorts of variations of these media, themes and techniques.
The concept of  hand of the artist is fascinating to us all - the intimacy of works created via the hands is immediate. That is why drawing is so appealing.
These works of Maria Lai were very personal, yet had a universal appeal.

One part, To Be is to Weave. Sewing and Mending included a large number of looms that had been altered

Her sewn books were also captivating

And her landscape assemblages were also very attractive

On the Spiritual Matter of Art at MAXXI gallery

On the Spiritual Matter of Art was an interesting exhibition that we saw at MAXXI- the contemporary art space at Rome.
The theme was based around "artistic paths that seek another dimension, of absolute, between universal, material and immaterial, immanent and transcendent"
It included works of art by 19 contemporary artists with a selection of archaeological relics from the capital’s leading museums: the Vatican Museums, etc.
More information here
I liked the work of Shirin Neshat the Iranian artist. Her portraits of hands are incredibly evocative and intimate

There was an interactive work by Yoko Ono - visitors were encouraged to paint something in blue in a room devoted to prompting people to reflect on the issues associated with immigration via boats.

I also liked Greetings from Venice by Elisabetta di Maggio created a floor mosaic using real stamps from around the world. More information here

Museo di Roma in Trastevere

While we were in Trastevere, the suburb across the river from where we are staying, we called in to the Museum of Rome where there was an exhibition of  some iconic shots, taken by fifteen of the best Czech photographers, documenting  the fall of communism.

There was also a large exhibition of watercolours by Ettore Roesler Franz who created 120 watercolours between 1878 and 1896, documenting Rome in that period. His aim was to capture suburban views that were disappearing. We spent a pleasant hour looking at these watercolours - they were so well executed, and we also could recognise and relate to some of the views, in particular the view below of the Tiber close to where we are living. The riverside is quite changed after large embankments were created to deal with persistent flooding. 
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The site is really  worth a visit.

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is a 5th-century church in Trastevere Rome. The first church on this site was founded probably in the 3rd century,it is said that the church was built over the house of the martyred saint.
Rather modest looking from the outside due to some renovations in the 1700s.
The apse has remains of 9th century mosaics depicting the Redeemer with Saints Paul, Cecilia, Paschal I, Peter, Valerian, and Agatha.

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I had to pick up this image below from the web because the light was dim making it hard to focus the camera. Looks as though the character on the left was 'revised'

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In front of the altar is a glass case enclosing the white marble sculpture of St Cecilia (1600) by the late-Renaissance sculptor Stefano Maderno.  It is strikingly beautiful

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The crypt is highly decorated and contains the relics of St. Cecilia and her husband St. Valerian. 

Piazza delle Cinque Lune

I love walking around Rome and seeing signs that ring a bell. Yesterday I saw the plaque for the Piazza delle Cinque Lune. It is  the title of a movie about the kidnap of Aldo Mori that I watched before coming here. The end of the movie was pretty lame,
The piazza itself is pretty ordinary - but thinking about the movie makes it a bit more interesting.

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere

After our trip to Ravenna last year we were keen to see more mosaics.
So it has been a delight being in Rome. The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches of Rome. It dates back to 340 and has wonderful mosaics from the late 13th century by Pietro Cavallini.  

On the facade is a mosaic of the enthroned Madonna and Child and virgins with oil lamps approaching from left and right.

Inside is an  apse decorated in  mosaics. It is unusual because it is so strikingly beautiful and because Christ and the Virgin are seated together on a throne in the middle of the composition in the apse.

Below, Isaiah and Jeremaiah ....the prophets hold ribbons with inscriptions that say that Mary is the mother of Christ

Around the apse are images depicting the story of Mary. Below the Annunciation

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The granite columns  that separate the nave from the aisles came from the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla. Interesting to see the 'recycling' that has gone on.

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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Weekend in Rome

Last weekend we were inadvertantly caughtup in a right wing rally that attracted thousands of people. Thousands came from all over Italy by bus.
Our first inkling of it was this group of young people whe were marching and chanting that they were the young Romans marching for their rights.
Other groups joined. In the newspaper reports it was stated that Matteo Salvini invoked the words 'March on Rome' words used by Mussolini 80 years or so ago.

On the next day, Sunday we had lunch in the Jewish quarter
 It was artichoke season and there were beautiful displays of the seasonal vegetables.

We wandered around and came across a plain door. On the pavement outside, three small plaques noting the names, birth dates and dates of the inhabitants' arrest and destination. 
It was chilling.