I am learning more about art than I ever thought my brain could absorb! We went to the Museo Della Opera Del Duomo(the museum of the works, or of the “Works Committee”, of the Duomo). I’m starting to be able to recognize styles and artistic motives. I can tell good from bad whereas in my previous trip to Florence three years ago I simply walked around marveling at the incredible collections of art, statues and all else Florence holds within her majestic walls. Seeing this magnificent art from an actual artistic and historical perspective makes me all the more appreciative of the wonders of the Renaissance. These men of genius and creation literally brought the world out of darkness, blistering the earth with the solace of their ingenuity. Where is that artistic passion today? Do we care more about film and movies? Do we care more about the next technical innovation?
Where is the motivation? Have we been spoiled so generously by the contributions of Michelangelo, Giotto, Leonardo, Donatello and Caravaggio that we can never again feel the sense of need to create? We’ve lived in a world full of their magic and the magic of their followers for so long that perhaps we no longer see the need to brighten the world. Perhaps we see the world as sufficiently light. We certainly don’t live in a world stifled of creativity, but that should not exclude us from the desire to improve!
One reason could lie in the socio-economic structure of today’s society versus that of earlier years. Back then the incredibly wealthy were expected to patronize(in the sense of being the patron of, or providing money for) great works of art. It was fashionable. The rich competed to leave lasting monuments of their power. They paid for the beautification of churches in order to receive burial places closer to the priest and church and therefore closer to God. They paid for art so that all would know who had commissioned works such as Santa Croce church. It was a society where wealthy flaunted their monetary status in ways that beautified the city and enriched the world.
In today’s society, on the other hand, we expect the wealthy to hide their wealth in the midst of the rest of us. We see it as almost a social faux pas to flaunt status. So, instead o providing money for the beautification of the city, the wealth seclude themselves with the other wealthy only desiring to use their money to enrich their own lives. Surely this phenomena also has roots in the incredibly selfish culture in which we live, but I have a sneaky suspicion that the anti-aristocratic American ideals play a part in the lack of privately commissioned art.
America has long been a society that shunned the very notion of an aristocracy. From our founding, even though our founders themselves were aristocrats and wished to continue the political dominance of aristocrats over the populace, Americans have seen our democratic world as one without class distinctions. In America, unlike in Europe, it was possible for one to move up the class structure regardless of his brith. Our Revolutionary War was a fight of the upstart laymen against the dominant old aristocracy. In essence it was a war of ways of life. Would America be aristocratic or would it be democratic? In he end democracy trumped aristocracy and the idea of aristocrats would slowly die out, finally becoming a sort of stigma in recent history.
But I say it might be time to embrace the aristocrats(if they can behave themselves and actually care about the world outside of their piles of money). Let them flaunt their money. Even encourage it! Artists did not work for free and surely many were commissioned by the city of Florence itself (which means taxes, another thing Americans find horrid for flawed reasoning), but allowing the wealthy to finance he beautification of the world could work wonders by providing artists with a steady income. People follow money and security, rarely perusing careers for purposes other than financial security. Pumping more money into their pockets would only encourage more people to become artists and perhaps stimulate creativity.
After the museum Brian and figured we would go check out the Uffizi for a bit since there are few people in line later in the day, but then I asked if he would want to go to the top of the dome. We ran over to check the length of the line, which was non existent. After winding our way up narrow ancient staircases and pathways around the interior of the dome(which gave us an up close view of the fresco covering the interior of the dome) we arrived at top from where we could see the entire city and the surrounding countryside. Florence is a city in the valley of mountains alongside the Armo river. The sites were marvelous. There were no sky scrapers in sight. Instead of building vertically the Europeans spread out and used every bit of horizontal space possible. It’s a different kind of beautiful from that of New York city with its majestic skyline. This seemed like old beauty; the old world making its presence known. I can only say that it is an otherworldly experience to stand a the top of an ancient structure overlooking the wondrous valley with its red roofs and stone streets.
Tuesday night was spent attempting to make travel plans for the weekend using the horrendously slow Internet in the hotel. In all it was quite unsuccessful and instead of working on my editorial, I spent the night in frustration. I did, though, finally decide to write about our food system and did some research.