Tag Archive for 'Apple'

The Week

Andrea Schiavone, the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche, c. 1550, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art


Just back from a quick trip to Venice for work. I had the opportunity to see the exhibition on Andrea Schiavone (1510-1563) currently on at the Museo Correr and will recommend it whole-heartedly. It’s the first exhibition ever devoted to this singular and very badly understood artist. The exhibition, curated by Lionello Puppi and Enrico Maria dal Pozzolo, makes a good attempt at establishing a chronology and a convincing account of his development as an artist. A difficult thing to do, since the first dated work we have from him is an etching of 1547, at which point he was well into his thirties and thus one would assume well into his career as an independent artist. It is possible to posit a small body of work that precedes this, but nothing datable to earlier than around 1540 — what was he doing before that? It’s anybody’s guess.

Also, there are a number of works that don’t seem to fit anywhere, most notably the Palazzo Pitti Cain and Abel, which relates to the 1540s mannerist turn in Venetian art and consolidates a dramatic figural configuration derived, I think from Baccio Bandinelli (look at far right), continued by those giants of Venetian art Tintoretto (also in the show) and Veronese in the early 1550s. The attribution to Schiavone of the picture goes back to the seventeenth century and the general assumption is that it must be an early work, from before he started subverting perspective, anatomy and naturalistic colour to formulate his extraordinary — sometimes clumsy, sometimes exhilarating — explorations of expressive figuration. The thing is, there’s nothing else in his known oeuvre that looks like this picture, which is closer to (though probably not by) Pordenone, that muscular mannerist of 1530s Venetian painting, than anything else.

Once we get into the 1550s, Schiavone’s development becomes somewhat clearer and some really fantastically original drawings, prints and paintings emerge. The exhibition makes a strong case for his adaptation of Parmigianino’s figural eloquence and Titian’s depth of colour his subversion of great central Italian figures — Salviati, to be sure, but more importantly, Raphael — into a distinctive idiom that, if one accepts the argument of the exhibition, actually anticipated and perhaps even inspired significant developments in the art of figures as great as Titian (who was clearly a close colleague), Tintoretto, and Jacopo Bassano.

Anyway, there’s much more to say and I don’t have the time or wherewithal to do so right now, but if you’re around Venice sometimes over the next month or so, do go see this eye-opening exhibition. It closes 10 April.

The week’s links:

  • Alan Moore! Craig Fischer had a great review up of Moore’s and Jacen Burrows’ first seven issues of the Lovecraft exegesis Providence up the week before last. It’s a great piece, which makes me look forward to reading the book, even if I’ve been largely disappointed with the direction Moore has gone in recent years. His previous Lovecraft book, Neonomicon, was mean-spirited and rather predictable horror-schlock and Crossed #100 was just plain drudgery. But it’s Moore, so it has to get a lot worse before I loose interest. Pagan Dawn had a terrific interview with Moore on magic. Holding out for Jerusalem
  • Hugh Eakin on Denmark, its immigration policy, and the refugee crisis. A great introduction to the political and social situation in Denmark that may help explain the depressing actions of the Danish government lately. Related: I found Oliver Guez’ call for increased European unity in the New York Times well stated.
  • Apple vs. FBI primer. Great one-stop guide to the specifics of the controversy. Was surprised to learn that an FBI mandated change of iCloud password landed them in this situation. What a screw-up.
  • My good colleague Xavier F. Salomon on Van Dyck’s great Portrait of Cardinal Bentivoglio, soon to be on loan from Palazzo Pitti to the Frick Collection for its exhibition Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture.
  • The Week

    The Week in Review (a.k.a. the feature formerly known as Picks of the Week)

    Jobs. I’m somewhat ambivalent about the mass adulation directed at the late Apple co-founder this past few days. No doubt he and his company revolutionized the way we interface with technology, even if he didn’t come up with the component parts now often credited to him: the mouse and desktop interface; and no doubt that his autocratic and autonomous stance helped further a vision that might otherwise have crashed and burned like so many Windows operating systems.

    But admirable as these characteristics are in a creative, individual businessman, and even perhaps in a small company, they take on an insidious edge when they become the governing principle of a large corporation. It amplifies human shortcomings in a way that leads to rotten ethics and ultimately limits the freedom of consumers.

    Look, I dig my Macintosh computer, even if I don’t care much for the weak, impossible-to-change batteries that come with most Apple products. I haven’t once regretted switching away from the ongoing disaster that is Windows. (And Linux is just too damn bothersome). Oh, and Pixar’s pretty fantastic.

    Trouble is we’re talking a corporation that behaves increasingly like Jobs reportedly did to the people around him: tyranically censorious and blind to the people around it. As if their disturbing record of outsourcing production overseas weren’t troublesome enough, their record of innovation — transformative as it has been — carries troubling perspectives.

    Apple’s takeover of the music industry (couldn’t have happened to nicer people!) has proposed some interesting solutions for digital delivery, but is basically an overpriced quasi-monopoly concentrated on a crap format, the mp3. Other industries seem to have learned not to but all their eggs in the Apple basket, but it seems inevitable that the company, with their arbitrary censorship practices and Chinese box approach to user participation (as opposed to friendliness), is going to be at the center of digital delivery technology for the foreseeable future.

    Apple’s achievement, however, goes beyond the transformation of user interfaces and content delivery. They’ve built a new type of brand. We’re not talking mere consumer loyalty, or even identification — people seem to regard their products as a kind of personal, even spiritual fulfillment, as if they were an extension of themselves. This is mass cybernetics, people. Psychological interface.

    An amazing achievement, no doubt. And Jobs was at the center of it. He made consumerism a personal matter. Which I guess makes sense, now that corporations are defined as people. RIP.

    My Jobs list: Mike Daisy: “Against Nostalgia”, James Surowiecki: “How Steve Jobs Changed”, Vaclav Simil: “Why Jobs Is No Edison”, Ryan Tate: “What Everyone Is Too Polite to Say About Steve Jobs”.