Fr. Mark and several of our favorite art experts were honored to join our patrons on a spiritual and artistic journey. From May 1 until May 7 – patrons gathered at sea on a sumptuous cruise which featured stops in some of Europe’s most beautiful and meaningful cities. Patrons came from everywhere, from Michigan to Florida, Colorado and California. The travellers visited Gaudi’s famous church, The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, spend time at the Prince’s palace in Monaco, and were able to join his eminence Cardinal Harvey for Mass at Santa Maria Regina Della Famiglia in the Governatorato. In France they also were given a special tour of the famous Cistercian monastery Le Thoronet Abbey. They found the austere and resonant surroundings inspirational and even had a chance to pray in this meditative space. And at each stop our patrons interacted with experts and had the opportunity to learn insights about the sites from trained historians and theologians.
Many patrons extended their trip to include an additional three-day pilgrimage to Rome where they were able to take advantage of exclusive tours and ultimately attend a farewell Gala Dinner in the Gallery of the Busts here at the Museum. It was wonderful to have everyone here.
Many thanks to everyone who chose to join in on the cruise and I’m sure you can attest to what a wonderful time it was. To keep up with friends from the cruise and show off your pictures we’ve created this facebook page.
It’s a great way to stay in touch with your patron friends and to see what the cruise was like! And attendees, please don’t hesitate to send your stories and pictures to us here.
Photo of the Patrons in Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Photo by John Hale.
Patrons in the Sistine Chapel
Patrons with his Eminence James Michael Cardinal Harvey in front of Santa Maria Regina della Famiglia.
This April, our friends from the lush Northwest U.S. came to visit and had an experience they will never forget. The beautiful springtime of Rome was the perfect backdrop for the unveiling of Perseus and a spiritual and cultural connection that can only be found here in the Vatican.
Also, while they were here, the NW Chapter members were also able to witness the fruits of their donations. Together we celebrated the unveiling of a spectacular Perseus statue, which their support helped restore. Vatican Museums director Antonio Paolucci thanked the Northwest Chapter in the Octagonal Courtyard saying that, “ The Northwest is a new chapter, but a very lively one.” And he praised their devotion to the Perseus.
The statue is a particularly glorious piece made by one of the masters of Italian sculpture, Antonio Canova. In the late 18th and early 19th century Canova became well known as the finest sculptor of his generation. His ability and talents, particularly in rendering the human form, were unparalleled by any contemporary.
Perseus Unveiled, photo by Gabe Hanzeli.
This Perseus is the epitome of his Neoclassical style that looked to antiquity for inspiration. The statue was purchased soon after its creation by Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti (1800-1823) who displayed it on the pedestal in place of the Apollo of the Belvedere which had been taken to France following the Treaty of Tolentino. It had similar weight, proportions and expressive characteristics of the statue of the famous Belvedere Apollo (itself an inspiration for Michelangelo and so many sculptors, including Canova).
There is an ironic artistic witticism hidden in this piece that goes along with Canova’s desire to take subjects of antiquity and cast a more modern spin on the subject matter. In this case, the story of the demi-god Perseus is that he avoided being turned to stone by chopping off the head of the Gorgon, Medusa. However, here he appears cast in stone as though his trial came to a less positive end. This is a conscious act of Canova who challenges antiquity with his cleverness and skill.
When the Apollo was returned to the Vatican, Perseus took up residence in a new place between statues of Two Pugilists (also by Canova), perhaps as a nod to a man who fought valiantly in the annals of Greek mythology.
(And for a glimpse into life inside the restoration with Andrea Felice, see this video!)
The meticulous and painstaking restorations took over three years to be fully completed. Guy Devreux, Head of the Museums’ Marble Restoration, explained that it was thanks to the patrons that it is possible for restorers to perform such “extraordinary work.” He went on to say that, “The fact that the restoration takes a long time isn’t because it’s going slowly, but our respect, love and professionality that wants to make sure the final result is great.” Today, the true beauty of the piece could be restored and maintained for the future. We are so grateful to the Northwest Chapter and the Altig family for all their help and very pleased that so many of their representatives could be here to witness the unveiling.
Ask the Northwest Patrons who were in attendance or take a look at some of our pictures on our Facebook group and Snapfish album– to see just how amazing of an experience this was. We hope to see you soon and to let you see just how glorious the Perseus is in person!
The Northwest Chapter in front of Perseus and the Pugilists. Photo by Gabe Hanzeli.
In the Swiss Guard Barracks after their training. Photo by Gabe Hanzeli.
The artwork ‘Perseus with the Head of Medusa’ by Italian sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822) is exhibited after restoration at the Vatican Museum, in Vatican City, April 30, 2015. ANGELO CARCONI
In front of the Perseus in the Octagonal Courtyard. From L to R: Lisa Altig, Andrea Felice, Antonio Paolucci, and Rick Altig.
The Venice Biennale, which takes place every two years, is considered to be the most important and prestigious event on the international contemporary arts calendar and the oldest and largest established biennale in the world. Mary Angela Schroth of the Patrons Office was there for the opening on May 6, 2015. Here are her impressions.
For the first time in history, a non European has been asked to direct the Biennale in Venice: Okwui Enwezor is a star in the art world. Born in Nigeria, an academic background in sociology, he has been a major figure now for the last 20 years, curating various biennales and exhibitions throughout the world including Germany’s Dokumenta. Entitled “All the world’s futures,” Okwui has chosen more than 100 artists to participate in his main exhibition, and more than a third are from Africa, even more from outside the eurocentric construct. The Biennale also hosts pavilions from 89 countries, as well as another 44 collateral exhibitions so it is indeed the Olympics of Art.
For the second time, Commissioner Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and Curator Micol Forti (who heads the modern and contemporary department of our Vatican Museums), have organized the Vatican Pavilion and it is a testament to both art and faith. Forti and her team have chosen 3 young artists from three diverse areas of the world: Monika Bravo from Colombia, Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva from Macedonia, and Màrio Macilau from Mozambique. The biblical theme is: “In the Beginning there was the Word…the Word became flesh,” with an additional reference to the story of the Good Samaritan. All these aspects are part of Pope Francis’ mission but also that of Cardinal Ravasi to underline the importance of contemporary art and faith in our world today. All three artists are experimental and ground-breaking but the best works are by Macilau, dramatic and stark black and white large photographs mounted in a stunning architectural context designed by the artist and recounting the tragedy of children living on the streets of Maputo, Mozambique’s capital city and one of the poorest areas in the world. But with the art of Macilau we see a new beauty and a new hope for humanity through the creative image.
From left pavilion curator Micol Forti, Pontifical Council for Culture President Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and Venice Biennale President Paolo Baratta attend a press conference at the Vatican to present the Holy See pavilion “In Principio …la Parola si fece carne” (In the Beginning … the Word became flesh) participating in to the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale of Arts. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis).