Monday, July 12, 2010

First Time Italian Renaissance Sounded in My Ear

The first time I heard the pronunciation of Italian Renaissance (in Chinese) with my own ears was a watershed moment for me.

I had read about Renaissance at that time but this word had never entered into the vocabularies of the people I had any conversation with. The sound of Italian Renaissance (Yi-Da-Li Wen-Yi-Fu-Xing Shi-Qi) sounded like the best wine to my years.

I was in elementary school but had been a veteran of museum and art exhibition going, thanks to my well-educated parents, and particularly my father, who was working in the province culture bureau, therefore, we were able to visit galleries, museums, movies, theaters, dances at least weekly, if not more. However, most of the exhibitions were in the line of socialist realism, which became boring rather quickly and I was never too enamored with sweaty steel mill workers or peasants. The relieves from all these are in the form of pastoral landscape and idyllic lies didn't really existed in then China, and those relieves soon grew into banality.

One can imagine how I responded when suddenly I was confronted with artworks (reproductions, alas) from Italian Renaissance time. It was a special exhibit hosted in Liaoning Province Fine Art Museum in Shenyang. I believe that the show was curated by Italian Culture Ministry and though all the works were reproduction only, mounted in lightboxes, like the advertising boxes we see daily now, they really shook me to the core at an impressible age.

Liaoning Gongye Zhanglanguan

Those images truly opened my eyes and I was absolutely smitten by masterpieces originated in Florence, Vatican, Rome, Padua, Milan, etc. Finally, I was gratified to know that beyond the banality existed something of true beauty.

At that humble time, I never thought that I might have chance to see many of these amazing works with my own eyes! Such as the Birth of Venus by Botticelli in Uffizi!

Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, c. 1486
The Birth of Venus, c. 1486, by Sandro Botticelli, collection of Uffizi Gallery, Florence

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