What would the Renaissance be without its mysteries and tantalizing gossip? Stories like the transgendered rumors of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” or Michelangelo’s clash with Biagio da Cesena over the nudity in his “Last Judgement” are what make Renaissance masterpieces the subject of continued controversy today.
In the spirit of Giorgio Vasari’s original Renaissance art tabloid, The Lives of the Artist, we’ve compiled a cheat sheet of the latest controversies, headlines and other voci (rumors), as the Italians say, in Renaissance art.
Back in 1975, Italian engineer Maurizio Seracini went all Dan Brown on the idea when he noticed a tiny flag on the Georgio Vasari fresco that currently adorns the walls of the Palazzo. The flag reads “Cerca Trova,” or seek and ye shall find, and Seracini took this as Vasari’s clever way of saying: “da Vinci was here.”
Now, after years of shooting beams of nuetrons, lasers and any of the other latest scientific technologies at the Palazzo walls to prove his find, Seracini is drilling holes in the Vasari, cultural heritage be damned.
According to the New York Times, art historians are molto arrabiato (look it up) at this new development, and have signed a petition to Florence’s mayor to stop the project. Povero Vasari, why does his painting always seem to get the shit end of the stick? Probably because his Michelangelo knock-offs pale in comparison to the work of his superstar contemporaries, but at least he will always be remembered as the father of Renaissance art history, and more importantly, art gossip.
The Sun reports that artist Ron Piccirillo has discovered animals hidden in the landscape behind our enigmatic lady. After examining the painting on its side, Piccirillo claims to have found a lion, a buffalo and an ape in the background, and a crocodile and snake protruding from the left side of the Mona Lisa’s body.
Piccirillo also believes that this cast of animals symbolize envy in the painting, a reading that may be proven by passages from da Vinci’s journal. A graphic in the article lets you go on a “Mona Lisa” safari to see Piccirillo’s animals, but I don’t think the mystery of Mona has been cracked just yet. The lion is a maybe, but the ape and the buffalo are a definite stretch to make out.
Swiss artisan Francois Junod, who builds mechanical men, has created a wind-up da Vinci figure that can spit out everything from intricate drawings to mirror-inverted texts in Latin. With da Vinci resurrected as basically a factory version of himself, Damien Hirst and Murakami should just give up.
The plate is estimated to be worth £100,000 (about $156,020) but actually sold for almost £400,000 (roughly $620,000). More of a D-list celebrity of the Renaissance, Avell is best known for his painted maiolica, or tin-glazed pottery works that he created in the mid 1500s.
After much investigation, and the insistence of one Italian art restorer, Antonio Forcellino, the painting is now worth $300 million and was featured in the Rome Foundation museum’s recent exhibition Rome in the Renaissance, From Michelangelo to Vasari along with questions surrounding its attribution.
If the painting is truly a Michelangelo is still unclear, but the scavenger hunt for clues and arguments among scholars make this ripe for Renaissance gossip. We know Mike would be loving it.
Now playing the Cannes Film Festival, the new film from the director of The Square embarks on a luxury cruise that goes to hell.
By enshrining her memories into sculptural form, Juárez celebrates her emotional pilgrimage through the growing pains of childhood to adulthood.
A journey spanning three continents over 1,500 years comes to the National Mall in Washington, DC. On view at the Smithsonian’s NMAA through September 18.
These university museum leaders are bridging cultural chasms through elaborate and generative work with their students.
Curators at the Maidan Museum in Kyiv are sifting through the rubble for items that “tell the story of ordinary people’s lives, of their deaths.”
Graduate student work representing 19 disciplines is featured in a digital publication and returns as an in-person exhibition at the Rhode Island Convention Center.
The cube, which has fallen into disrepair, was strapped in place by supportive metal implements at its base.
Inigo Philbrick misrepresented the ownership of and fraudulently traded in works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Yayoi Kusama, and others.
Installations by Jessica Campbell, Yasmine K. Kasem, Suchitra Mattai, Haleigh Nickerson, and Nyugen E. Smith are now on view at JMKAC in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Author M. T. Anderson walks us through a sonic gallery of Vasily Kandinsky’s musical influences, which guided the painter’s pursuit of art that reveals a mystical, inner truth.
In yet another horror movie that’s actually about trauma, writer-director Alex Garland makes his points bluntly, having one actor play many facets of misogyny.
Time is itself a recycling process for Cole, whose freewheeling spirit transcends linearity in his excavations of art and music history.