Thursday, January 4, 2018

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Inspiration for the Rose Bowl Parade?

One of the memories of my early youth was sitting in front of the TV in the living room of my grandparents' house on New Years Day watching the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. It is a spectacle marked by one especially unusual feature: the surface of every float in the parade must be made of flowers.

This past Monday was the 129th celebration of the parade, and as usual the weather looked wonderful, quite a contrast from our 25-below arctic chill here in Duluth. The following day, I read a story in the Art Daily eNewsletter about a new exhibition of works by Giuseppe Arcimboldo at the Bilboa Fine Arts Museum. Like Dali, once you've seen Arcimbolo's strange visual concoctions you never forget them. Whereas the Tournament of Roses Parade creates castles, Disney characters and other memorable designs using flowers, the Renaissance painter painted portraits of people assembled with fruit and vegetables.

I first saw examples of his paintings while in college, though only as reproductions in a book. It wasn't till a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art that I later saw a pair of these remarkable paintings in real life. They were delightful.

Now that the Internet makes everything accessible, here's a link to a Pinterest page in which you can see more of Arcimboldo's work, along with imitations by others.

Arcimboldo's uncles were painters and it's evident from his bio that he was a man who was connected. In 1562 he went to Vienna by invitation from the future Emperor Maximillian II. It was here that he painted his famous Four Seasons paintings.

"Summer" - from the Four Seasons series, Vienna 1563
WHAT'S ESPECIALLY INTERESTING TO ME on this story was this sentence in the Art Daily bio of the artist in conjunction with the Bilboa show: On New Year's Day 1569 Arcimboldo presented the Emperor with his series of the Four Seasons (painted in 1566), accompanied by a panegyric by the poet Giambattista Fonteo.

Inspiration for the Tournament of Roses Parade?
For more on Giuseppe Arciboldo, check out 

Here's one more link, to a page of links. Enjoy.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. In tempore illo.

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