Re-working the Renaissance

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.
Jim Jarmusch
[MovieMaker Magazine #53 – Winter, January 22, 2004 ]

Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo painted witty, even surreal portraits composed of fruits, vegetables, fish and trees.

769684575_bb9ddbcb7c Arcimboldo-Rudolf-II-631.jpg__800x600_q85_crop

Philip Haas, a contemporary artist and filmmaker, has created four monumental portrait busts titled The Four Seasons. Haas’ 15-foot-tall sculptures are 3-dimensional interpretations of the Italian Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s portrait series of the same name.

These are on display at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art here in Kansas City, MO until the middle of October. They’re weird and worth a look.

I had a day off last week, and took myself out for a few hours. I wasn’t sure what I felt like doing that day, but I ended up at the Nelson because that’s where I hang out whenever I can. The weather was perfect. I was feeling a lot of stress from the two jobs, so my mind wasn’t clear and I didn’t feel like going inside.

So first I laid down in the grass on the lawn and fell asleep for a while. There weren’t many people out on a Friday afternoon, and it was easy to avoid being disturbed.


When I woke up, I felt completely different. Looking towards the museum, I saw that the installation of these works was in progress right around The Thinker, so I wandered over there and took pictures. They had built a ramp up the side steps to roll these pieces into place. I wish I’d gotten pictures of that process, it must have been entertaining.

IMG_5989aThere was a crew of people touching up the fiberglass with paint and putting up signs saying “Do Not Touch the Art.”
“Good luck with that,” I wanted to say.

IMG_5991It did make me want to get in there and help. I felt like I’d missed my vocation, which ideally would have been something to do with curating exhibits, archival work, or restoration. Shelving books is getting a little old.

IMG_5990I had a hard time getting photos without a lot of bystanders included.

I think I liked “Winter” the best, as it reminds me of The Green Man (even though it wasn’t all that green.)

I’m not sure how these fit in with Rodin’s The Thinker. I don’t think I would have placed these pieces so close to him. Maybe they were trying to keep them close to the building (and the guards who are going to ask the viewers not to touch the Art.)

I’m glad I saw them, but I’m also glad it’s not a permanent installation. In six months, a view of the crew trundling those pieces back down the steps should be something worth watching.



3 responses to “Re-working the Renaissance

  1. I like the tree one.

  2. What a hoot. I’ve always gotten a kick out of those pieces and never thought of what would happen if they were realized in 3D, let alone oversized 3D. And I loooooove the Nelson-Atkins. Haven’t been since the addition, and would love to visit again. Someday! Thanks for sharing them, Jeanne!

    • Yes, the Bloch building is worth seeing. Much nicer from the inside than the outside, although it’s pretty at night. Otherwise, it looks like the outside of a warehouse. But you get used to it because it houses such great exhibits.

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