There are still a few weeks left to see the Met Breuer’s retrospective of Marisa Merz. Merz, who was born in 1926, is the only female member of the Turin-based Arte Povera movement and spent much of her career in the shadows of well-known men, including that of Mario Merz, her husband. This exhibit brings her into the forefront and her works are revelatory, both intimate and grand. Arte Povera’s distinctive trait was the use of cheap or discarded materials to create works of art that are often on a monumental scale. Marisa Merz arranged her works in her house, rather than in a gallery, and they seem to have arisen from her home life and base regardless of their size. There are about 100 pieces in this show and it is strange, moving and beautiful, worthy of its name: “The Sky Is A Great Space.”
A lovely exhibition at the Frick showcases the drawings of Andrea del Sarto, the Florentine sixteenth century artist. The show highlights the creative process and the role of drawing in the Renaissance workshop. The drawings on view at the Frick span del Sarto’s career. They are amazingly nuanced and mostly in red and black chalk. Possibly the most striking drawings are the various head studies, amongst which are the Study for the Head of Julius Caesar – most elegant – and the expressive Study for the Head of Saint John the Baptist. Also in the exhibition are three finished paintings, including a masterful (the draping of the sleeve – wow!) Portrait of a Young Man and an innocent yet sensuous Saint John the Baptist from Palazzo Pitti.
Glassblowing as a technical breakthrough in the making of glass occurred in the first century BC. Glass vessels could thus be made more easily and new shapes and decorations were produced. Inflating glass in molds that were carved with designs created vessels of varying shapes with complex decorations in relief on their surfaces. Ennion, probably from Sidon in today’s Lebanon, was a master craftsman in one of the earliest glass workshops in the first century AD. He was among the first glassmakers to incorporate his name into the inscription in the mold’s design and his pieces were well-known and popular. His vessels have been found all over the ancient Roman world leading to the conclusion that they were traded throughout the Mediterranean. Today there are just over 50 known pieces by Ennion in collections. A small exhibition at the Metropolitan museum gathers 24 of them, many still intact, and highlights their delicacy, sophistication and timelessness. The show includes pieces by other makers of the period and is all together informative and beautiful.
Rome’s Palazzo Valentini, off of Piazza Venezia, was originally built starting in 1585. Throughout the centuries it was a residence, a library, a theater and eventually the seat of the Provincia di Roma. More recently, excavations under the palazzo have revealed various Roman “domus” or noble residences which have been turned into a “multimedia museum.” Visitors follow a set path and virtual reconstructions and videos recreate the past. At the end of the tour is an exhibition on the area around Trajan’s column and a video gives a close up view of the column and explains the story that is told in its bas-reliefs. The whole visit takes about an hour and is truly fascinating: technology aids the imagination in bringing the past to life.