Hailey Coral

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Italian Neoclassicism

Neoclassicism is one of the first movements in modern art, and stemming from the french revolution, it greatly reflects the style of classical paintings. However, most neoclassical art is so heavily influenced by this style, because during this time period, human kind was being re-looked at as sinful and much less perfect than previously. Therefor, highly influenced by the writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, imitating the extrordinary, perfect, and historical classicism was the only way to "become great" again.Two years ago, I spent the summer in Turin (or Torino), Italy where I took a Modern and Contemporary art class. I traveled to museums in Milan, Florence, and Rome. Because Italy is so well known for its older art, it was interesting to compare the classical art of the 14th to 17th centuries to the re-evaluations of them in the neoclassical art of the late 17th and early 18th century. A museum I visited several times in Torino, called the Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea held a lot of modern art pieces, and notably some of the work of Giovanni Fattori. However, most of the work featured during the time I was there, included the later modern movements. It was not until I did a little more research and looked back through my pictures from the museum trips, that I was able to find an example of the neoclassical sculpture I had remembered most, which was created by an Italian artist. Antonia Canova's Saffo (Erma di Saffo), which means Herma of  Sappho, is a bust sculpture made of marble, of the Ancient Greek lyrical poet, Sappho. Though this sculpture was made in the early 19th century, it has an undeniable classical perfection influence. Sappho was known to write poetry obtaining to love by both genders, and was born on the island of Lesbos, known to be where the word Lesbian stemmed from. Sculptures and Hermas like this one, were created in the fourth and fifth centuries BC. When in Italy I visited the Vatican, Uffizi Gallery, and other museums where classical greek sculptures (or roman copies of them) were prominent throughout. To see a reinterpretation of there style, which looked so much more clean, crisp, and yet delicate gave a sense of what the marble used for the greek and roman classical sculptures looked like long ago. However, a notable difference I saw in Canova's Saffo when compared to the classical influences, was the simplicity and calm look on her face. The perfection and essence of beauty is deeply rooted in the classical greek influence that neoclassicism was known for, but the innocent, pure, light, and airy look about Saffo shows less bold-ness than it's past influences. Canova was known for his light and airy look about his sculpture, which carries even into one of his most famous works, Perseus with the Head of Medusa, which is at the Vatican. Even this piece, which represents a famous slaughter in Greek mythology, a heroic and elegant take is shown in his reworking of this historical and repeated sculpture. Sappho by Antonio Canova at GAM Torino. Photo by Hailey Thomson

Sappho by Antonio Canova at GAM Torino. Photo by Hailey Thomson

Sappho by Antonio Canova at GAM Torino. Photo by Hailey Thomson

"Perseus Canova Pio-Clementino Inv969" by Antonio Canova - Marie-Lan Nguyen (2009). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Perseus_Canova_Pio-Clementino_Inv969.jpg#/media/File:Perseus_Canova_Pio-Clementino_Inv969.jpg