Friday, 24 June 2011
Return of the Couch Potato
In the first episode, "The Moorish South", Andrew takes us right back to the art of Muslim and Christian Spain from 711 to 1492. The invading Moors, Arabs from North Africa, took Córdoba in 711 and they made it into one of the great cities of the world. Territorial and political, as well as religious conflicts shaped the history of Spanish art.
The second episode, "The Dark Heart", deals with 16th and 17th century art, while "The Mystical North" looks at art in northern Spain, from Goya to Picasso.
The series discusses all the usual suspects: El Greco, Velasquez, Goya, Miro, Dali, Picasso … the list goes on. But all of that, interesting though it is, is stuff I already knew. What really enthralled me was the wealth of fascinating information about the architecture of Spain, going right back to the Moors.
The Alcázar Palace in Seville with the amazing tile work, which, as Graham-Dixon puts it, forms "almost hallucinogenic patterns"; the magnificent monastery/palace of El Escorial … there is nothing like these in the rest of Europe.
Another little-regarded aspect of art is the exquisite work of the goldsmiths who made the religious reliquaries which had their origin about the time of St Theresa of Avila's death in 1582. It was part of St Theresa's mystique that an angel appeared to her and pierced her heart with a spear. After her death, her heart was inspected for holes and encased in a bejewelled gold reliquary. On to a good thing, they encased various other bits of her in reliquaries and the game was on.
Our members who have visited the great cathedrals of Europe will have encountered the fingers, toes and thigh bones of various saints and bishops in magnificently decorated gold caskets. I myself have been privileged to see the casket containing the bones of the Three Wise Men in the cathedral in Cologne. Brought back from the Holy Land by Crusaders in the 12th century, I was told. Who am I to argue.
Posted by Catharine at 18:28