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Don Draper Goes Medieval! Is Mad Men Don Draper’s “Inferno”?

Man Men - season 6 episoe 1 - don draper reading dantes inferno on the beach

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost. . .

Those were the first words we hear Don Draper speak in the season 6 premier of AMC’s hit show, “Mad Men” which aired last night. Dante Alighieri’s legendary Medieval poem is not one’s expected choice to be reading on the beaches of Mauii, but for Don Draper it seems to have opened many questions of himself.

You could even point out that throughout the series, Don has endured through many of the nine circles of sin described in Dante’s “Inferno” (such as gluttony, lust, and sin), so to capture the man of perceived strength and self confidence bring alongside with him a poem about the author’s personal midlife crisis really speaks volumes. Don, however, doesn’t speak for another 10 minutes into the episode.

Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno” is a piece of Dante’s collection of poems known as “The Divine Comedy“. Written between 1308 and his death in 1321, the work is still seen as a pinnacle in literacy for mankind, and is still read today by students and scholars around the world. Split into three parts: Inferno, Purgatoria, and Paradiso; the story tells of the author’s descent into hell before ascending to paradise.

And as Don puts it, “Heaven is a little morbid. How do you get to heaven? Something terrible has to happen”.

As Dante had Virgil at his side, Don has Sterling; and like Dante’s muse Beatrice, Don seems to have found a new muse in his latest mistress who leant him the copy for his vacation. It’s strange life he is living, but luckily he notes he must stop “doing this”, before he never figures it out.

Dantes Purification on the Deserted Shore of Pergatory- The Divine COmedy - Dantes Inferno - Master of the Dominican Effigies (1325 - 1355) - AGO Revealing the Renaissance

We got a chance to see one of first illustrated copies of Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy” at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Revealing the Early Renaissance: Secrets and Stories in Florentine Art, by The Master of the Dominican Effigies between 1325 and 1355. Today, it still one of the most important works written.

A season back, or so, Don criticized Universities as a “Medieval” system, in an almost dismissive way, so its interesting to see him now delving into the pinnacle of Medieval philosophy. I guess it’s always good to stay well-rounded. And 800 year old wisdom, is just as good as any.

One of the most famous publications of “The Divine Comedy” featured engravings by French artist Gustave Doré, offering fantastical and surreal visuals to compliment Dante’s classic words. We thought them a wonderful showcase to accompany Don Draper and his voyage of self-discovery, and maybe provide a little insight and intrigue into the world of Dante Alighieri.

Maybe we will go on one too. Anyone want to join us?

Everyone’s got a little figuring out to do.

Why not get lost a little on the way.

Until next time,

{theEye}

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God is in the Details: Revealing the Early Renaissance @AGOToronto

Revealing the Renaissance at the AGO - secrets in florentine art - the Peruzzi Altar Piece

Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art (March 16 – June 16, 2013)

ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO (317 Dundas Street West)

$25 adult admission (includes admission to the rest of the gallery)

When thinking of the Renaissance, one might automatically conjure up images of Da Vinci, his Vetruvian man, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. It is a period in history renowned for its surge of creativity, knowledge, and innovation in areas of art, literature, music, architecture, and science.

It is a period that is also become more and more in vogue due to its resurgence in popular culture with T.V. shows like “The Tudors”, “The Borgias”, and the upcoming “Da Vinci’s Demons”, all putting their spin to this exciting and important moment in history.

But, what is rarely captured is the true birth of this period, and the movers and shakers who brought it all to life.

Perhaps its the fact that most art historians do not even know the names of most of the incredible artisans who painstakingly brought the churches of Florence to life with incredibly illuminated manuscripts, carvings, stained glass windows, and beautifully detailed panel paintings, between the years 1300 and 1350, that truly did start it all.

Revealing the renaissance: stories and secrets in florentine art

This is what Sasha Suda and the curators of the Art Gallery of Ontario‘s latest exhibition, “Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art“, aim to bring to the forefront, allowing visitors to explore the lost masterworks that truly sparked a revolution, and would change the face of history forever.

In partnership with the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the curators have painstakingly worked on this exhibition for the past 10 years, travelling far and wide to analyze and bring overseas for the first time some of the most elaborate examples of work from this period that define the breaking point from the flatness of Medieval art to a more expressive and “humanized” perspective that has come to characterize the Renaissance.

Many of these pieces have been shut away from the public for centuries, making this one of the most impressive exhibits the AGO has ever premiered, and one that is sure to capture the imagination of all those lucky enough to visit.

The main gallery at Revealing the early renaissance- stories and secrets in florentine art - AGO- March 12, 2013

Sasha Suda Talks Art With Culture Minister Michael Chan

Curator Sasha Suda talks art with Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Culture, Tourism, & Sport.  

One might, at first, be intimidated by the prestige of such an exhibit, but fear not, as this portal on the past is as much a reflection of our present day, as it is the 14th Century.

Whether or not you know a great deal about Renaissance art, the exhibition is packed full of information, from the audio guide, to the i-pads strategically placed amongst the exhibition to give you the full backstory on some of the exhibition’s most intriguing pieces. The curators have created an easy to understand story, that truly captures all the excitement and mystery of the artists and the works they created amidst the social context of Florence during this period.

Detail of the Peruzzi Altarpiece - christ wounds- revealing the early renaissance: stories and secrets in florentine art at the AGORevealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art at the AGO -

God is in the Details . . .

As you first step into the gallery, it may not immediately strike you how these works differ from the Medieval illustrations and paintings you are used to, but upon closer examination, you will find how rich, textured, and full of emotion each piece truly is.

They are not works of art to be admired from afar, but works that deserve an acute eye, and a willingness to get lost in the stories being told within them.

There is a certain excitement generated as you begin to see the layers of colour, and painstakingly small brush strokes that capture the most miniscule details of hair and embroidery. While our culture might be used to multiple images rapidly flashing before our eyes (surely a luxury akin to witchcraft for the men and women of the Renaissance), one must note that the multi-faceted panels and illuminated manuscripts are akin to the cinema of the Renaissance, with all the drama, suspense, horror, and spectacle you could expect from a film of today, with even a bit of special effects here and there.

Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art at the AGO

An exquisite panel painting. Blood, gore, and devotion. The piece reads almost like an expensive 14th Century comic . . .

It”s all for devotion sake, of course; used to invoke prayer, meditation, deep-thought, or contemplation. There’s definitely that sense of entertainment in the midst, often showcasing the more brutal and tumultuous moments of martyrs and Christ: Agatha with her breasts being cut off, another martyr is grilled on coals in ecstasy, and check out any crucified Christ in the mix and you’re bound to see more than your year’s worth of blood squirt (the most impressive, hands down, being Pacino Di Bonaguido’s “The Crucifixion” from 1315-1320, whose flowing blood rains on the spectators of the scene, as well as a juicy squirt from the chest for the viewer).

The Crucifixion by Pacino Bonaguida at the AGO - March 12, 2013 - Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and secrets in florentine art Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art at the AGO - Detail of Bonaguida's "THE CRUCIFIXION"

Pacino De Bonaguida’s “The Crucifixion” and Detail of (1315-1320)

And while, we might cringe at the sight of this, its patrons felt the bloodshed and pain was the human aspect of their faith, and that one day perhaps, they may themselves reach divination, as did their faithful predecessors.

Getting lost in each piece, you begin to see that this society was obsessed with their idols, and their chance to be a part of them was as easy as getting a master to paint them into a panel or manuscript. In essence, it equated a wealthy merchant to the status of celebrity, having made his way onto the pages alongside the kingdom of heaven complete with Christ, the Virgin, and all the many martyrs who gave their life to the dedication of their fate.

The most entertaining example of this is the Laudario of Sant’Agnesse; an illuminated choir book commissioned by the Compagnia di Sant’Agnese, a fraternity of merchants, for use in charitable events and prayer, and who are also illustrated along the margins of the music. This remarkable collection of 24 illustrated manuscripts have been framed and reunited for the first time since the early 1800s, and will be performed by musical guests Lionheart on April 6 in the Walker Court of the AGO (click for more details).

Detail of Daddi's "Crowned Virgin Martyr" - Revealin ghte Early Renaissance at the AGO - Toronto

Detail of “A Crowned Virgin Martyr {Catherine of Alexandria}” (1334 – 1338) by Bernardo Daddi. 

It is amazing to think that at one time, masters like Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo must have set their gaze on these exact works to hone their own craft, and garner inspiration to create the masterpieces of the Renaissance we marvel at today. For when staring at the suggestive expression of Bernardo Daddi’s “A Crowned Virgin Martyr” (1334-1338), a glimpse of Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”  with her mysterious stare, and face full of subtle shadows that delicately sculpt her face, can definitely be seen,  which make the exhibition all the more exciting, and relevant.

In many ways, the exhibition brings to light that not much has changed in the world of art and commerce; citing the importance of banking and the prosperous merchant class to the creation of these vital works of art. Being so wealthy, members of the merchant class became so concerned that they may not  reach heaven, that they began spending their fortunes on commissioning buildings, and filling them with new art that expressed their hopes, fears, ideals, and emotions.

Revealing the Early Renaissance at the AGO-A view of Bernardo Daddi Italian The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula and 11,000 Virgins

With prosperity, comes art – and not much has changed today, as many of the world’s most successful artists rely on wealthy investors and corporate big wigs to the cut the cheque on a commission. Perhaps they no longer fear purgatory for their sins, but they are most definitely keeping their fingers crossed that their commission could strike them big dollars, and in that way, achieve idol status, and a bit of heaven.

The exhibition has already been lauded by the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times as one of the most important exhibitions in recent years, so don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel through time, and take in 90 once-hidden masterworks that came to redefine life as we know it today.

Agony and the Ecstacy - Blood and Gore - Revealing the Early Renaissance at the AGO

All the Agony & The Ecstacy . . .

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Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art” opens at the AGO on March 16 and runs until June 16, 2013. To book your tickets today, click here!

Also be sure to check out the event schedule at the AGO for exciting insights inspired by this latest exhibit (Click here).

Sasha Suda, Michael Chan (Ontario Minister of Culture), and CEO at the AGO, Matthew Teitelbaum - March 12, 2013 - AGO Press Preview

Matthew Teitelbaum (CEO at the AGO), Sasha Suda (Assistant Curator of European art at the AGO), and Michael Chan (Ontario Minister of Culture, Tourism, & Sport) – March 12, 2013. 

Until next time,

{theEye}

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E.O.F. Style Star: Introducing Lorenzo Liverani . . .

01 - Lorenzo Liverani

Lorenzo Liverani is one of those rare talents in the world of fashion today. Multi talented, impeccably stylish, dapper, and business savvy – it should come as no surprise that this Style Star calls Florence, the hometown of the Renaissance, his home. Lorenzo’s style is showcased on his blog, Your-Mirror, and we are consistently impressed with Lorenzo’s signature style, so it was great to get the opportunity to pick the master’s brain, and learn a bit more about what makes his style his own, and his thoughts on fashion, and the future. 

 
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First, a bit of an introduction to yourself. What is your name, and what do you do?
 
My name is Lorenzo and I’m a studying fashion designer in Florence, where actually I live. The last October I decided to open Your-Mirror man’s blog.  Until now it has more than 40,000 visits.
 
What would be your earliest fashion memory, and has it played a part in leading you to your fashion future?
 
Since I was a child, I lived surrounded by clothes. In fact, my Dad has a big clothes shop and I was always there, so I lived fashion work and fashion life every day, so I think this is my world
 
When you wake up in the morning, what thoughts go through your mind while picking out your outfit for the day? 
 
When I choose my outfit I always think about my day’s commitments, weather, and absolutely depends on my mood.
 
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Do you have any go-to inspirations or style idols you look up to in your own style?
 
Honestly I haven’t a fashion icon, and my typical style is classic informal, younger, modern and contemporary. Especially in the summer, my outfits are easy wear.
 
You’re walking down the street and stumble upon a time portal that will take you anywhere you want to go in the history of time. Where do you decide to take it, and why?
 
Really fun and nice question. Absolutely in nineteenth-century when dandy style was born. I love the fashion and lifestyle  of  that period.
 
You get the chance to work with anybody in the fashion industry, who would it be and why?
 
Anna Wintour because I want to know if she is as bad as she seems (ahah). No,  honestly I’d like to much work for Dior, Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent… iconic fashion.
 
Here’s a fun one. You’ve accidentally conjured up an angry spirit who won’t get the hell out of your closet. You want to call the cops, but you know they won’t believe you so you pull out your exorcism kit and go to work. What is the one thing you are hoping to save from your wardrobe?
 
My sunglasses. I never go out without them.
 
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What is the worst fashion advice you’ve ever heard or been given?
 
OK,  I think the fashion world is so big and different from country to country, so everyone has a peronal style. So for me, there isn’t good style or bad style because it subjective, however, I don’t remember because honestly I didn’t listened to many suggestions from other people about fashion.
 
Any thoughts of the future of mens fashion and/or fashion in general, through the eyes of Lorenzo?
 
I think that classic style will win always. I think usually some designers or people exaggerate with whimsical style and thus becoming circus people.
 
 
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You can browse through and buy Lorenzo Liverani’s own collection here, so take a look!

We will be showcasing E.O.F. Style Stars on our site, so if you are one, or know of a stylishly gifted individual out there who deserves some praise, give us a shout at the.eye.of.faith@gmail.com

“Every man and woman is a star”

-Aleister Crowley

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Until next time,

{theEye}

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Happy Fat Tuesday; Mardi Gras Madness!

Welcome to the Carnival of Venice! Or shall we say the Carnevale di Venezia. Having begun 58 days before today. The day before Ash Wednesday, Fat Tuesday represents the end of this annual celebration in Venice, Italy! Becoming official way back in the renaissance, this carnival was absent for a long time before a return in 1979.

Originated from a victory of the “Repubblica della Serenissima”, Venice’s previous name, against the Patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrico in the year 1162. In the honor of this victory, the people started to dance and make reunions in San Marco Square. “A carnevale, ogni scherzo vale!” In other words, “At a carnival, every joke goes!”

Be it a Bauta or a Volto or Larva, we need to get our mask.
The Eye.

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La Vie Bohème!

“I’m a girl from a good family who was very well brought up. One day I turned my back on it all and became a bohemian.”

-Brigitte Bardot.

Feb 1. 2012 marks the 116th Anniversary of the World Premier of  La Bohème in Turin, Italy. Written by Italian Composer Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (1858-1924), we call him Puccini for short – the Opera was an instant smash (imagine the “Avatar” of 1896), and quickly spread through Italy,  and within a  year was embarking on successful tours overseas.

Puccini would have many hits in his days, finding success in the exotic locales and realism portrayed in his works; Madama Butterfly would take his audiences to the shores of Japan, as well as the lush Empire of China (Turandot)– but it would be in the gutters and rafters of Paris that Puccini would showcase to audiences, in a turbulent tale of life, love, and DISEASE in the ‘City of Lights’.

Based on Henry Murger’s ‘La Vie de Boheme’- Puccini  brings to life the passionate romance of seamstress Mimi, and dashing poet Rodolpho as they court eachother in the bohemian world of Paris’ Quartier Latin. It all ends tragically, as most Puccini pieces do…but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t keep inspiring to this day.

Unfortunately there was no recording of the Opera when performed for the first time in 1896, but luckily, Opera Diva Soprano Supremo (ODSS)-  Maria Callas (1923-1977) put her indelible stamp on the opera standard back in 1959.

If her name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s the most noted female Opera singer in history (Oh, that’s all). You may even recognize her voice from Tom Ford’s 2009 “A Single Man”, where she was featured on the soundtrack. Apart from her voice, Callas is known for her undeniable grace, poise, and ODSS-ness (Opera Diva Soprano Supremo-ness).

Sasha Pivovarova as Maria Callas by Miles Aldridge (for Numero Magazine).

Sasha Pivovarova as Maria Callas by Miles Aldridge (for Numero Magazine).

As with life, the hardest parts are the ones we remember and learn from. Even amidst the music, the dancing, the parties, and the friends- all it takes it a case of Consumption to end it all, and you better hope that at least you lived, laughed, and most importantly loved.

“My dream is to become a farmer. Just a Bohemian guy pulling up his own sweet potatoes for dinner.”

-Lenny Kravitz.

What do they say in ‘Rent’? Oh right, “La Vie Bohème”!

Sincerely,
-The Eye x

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