Friday, January 9, 2009

The Librarian

Librarian, 1570
Guiseppe Arcimboldo (Italian, 1527-1593)
oil on canvas
Kunsthistorische Museum
Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

I am indulging myself a little bit today. Guiseppe Arcimboldo is the brilliant painter of an array of bizarre heads concocted of oodles of gorgeous fantastically rendered objects, usually from the natural world. He is famous for his anthropomorphic paintings, when I hear his name I always think of a head made of fruit.

His work The Librarian "would have been recognised by its first audience as a cruel portrait of Wolfgang Lazius, court historiographer to Maximilian and a passionate book collector."(Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, Saturday April 26, 2007) His work is witty, but in order to be taken seriously it could not simply be an assemblage of objects. These paintings live as portraits, with a depth and interest one might not perceive at the outset.

Arcimboldo was embraced by the Surrealist movement and appears surprisingly modern when remembering that he worked out of the 16th century (same feeling I've always had about Hieronymous Bosch as well). I am only just learning about Arcimboldo but I highly recommend The Guardian article as it touches upon his variety of work, the influence of Leonardo da Vinci and the affect of the history of scientific discovery.

Check out a gallery of his work.

1 comment:

K'smom said...

a bookish sort of fellow.....