Thursday, July 19, 2007

Treasure and Junkyard - The Brera Art Gallery

The Brera Art Gallery in Milan houses many important paintings in Italian's history, yet the building that houses it looks more like an abandoned warehouse. Industrialisation of Europe left an unerasable mark on it.

A bronze statue of its founder, Emperor Napoleon I, stands in the centre of the courtyard. Nothing unusual about a Napoleon statue, there should be many of them, but this one is special. It is a NAKED Napoleon. He is portrayed as a young hunk. Artists are liars. Anyway, his statue is also in an appalling state, covered by dust, spider webs and pigeon shit.

The ground floor houses many replicas of the famous statues, but they suffer a worse fate than Napoleon. All the statues are covered by a thick layer of dust, many have been vandalised. Cigarettes in the mouth, testicles, boobs being probed at.

The first floor is where the gallery actually is. The exhibitions rooms are well maintained, with proper lighting and air-conditioning. The contrast with the ground floor is huge.

Most the paintings are of Christian-related. Master pieces they may be, but if you are not a fan of western history or Christian art, you will have difficulties in appreciating their values.

There is a glass workshop in the gallery, where on a weekday, you can see how the staff restore the paintings to their original glory (or destroy the original work completely, depends on how you look at it).

Many paintings appear to be very 'plastic' to me, after their great 'restoration' work. It is like a digital photo that is over-filtered, over sharpened, noise-reduction over-used.

The most important piece of work in the Gallery is the 'Dead Christ' by MANTEGNA, Andrea for its bold foreshortening. Sorry, I can't really appreciate it, or I don't know how to appreciate it. Any art experts here?

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