Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tintoretto’s bold innovations highlighted in US show

Tintoretto’s bold innovations highlighted in US show

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A man looks at Jacopo Tintoretto’s painting The Virgin and Child with Saints (1540) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. OLIVIA HAMPTON/afp

Tintoretto’s bold innovations highlighted in US show

WHEN he was just a teenager, Tintoretto was sent to Italian Renaissance painter Titian’s studio, only to be kicked out within days because the older master got jealous. Or so goes the legend.

What is clear from the first major Tintoretto retrospective outside of Europe, opening Sunday at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, is that the “impetuous genius” critics reviled for his free, “unfinished” style was a bold innovator whose impact can still be felt today.

The exhibition, a debut for the museum’s first woman director Kaywin Feldman, comes on the heels of city-wide celebrations and shows for the artist’s 500th birthday in his hometown of Venice.

Jean-Paul Sartre called Tintoretto the “first film director,” a theatricality seen in paintings like The Conversion of Saint Paul (circa 1544).

The eponymous scene happens in one corner of a canvas otherwise dominated by extravagant, zigzagging brushstrokes deliberately left clearly visible – then a groundbreaking innovation – to depict events like horses tumbling down an outdoor staircase.

The nearly 50 paintings and more than a dozen works on paper that span the artist’s career, on view until July 7, demonstrate how he lived up to the motto he wrote on a wall as a youth: “The draftsmanship of Michelangelo and the paint handling of Titian.”

There’s a proliferation of superhuman, hyper-muscular bodies sometimes tumbling out of the sky and almost always in motion, as though Michelangelo’s sculptures themselves were brought to life with unharnessed energy in an explosion of colors.

Religious or historical subjects and mythological themes are rendered with spirited virtuosity lacking spatial cohesion, earning the man born Jacopo Robusti his other nickname, “Il Furioso.”

Back in spotlight

His bravura, shocking at the time, foretold of innovations that came centuries later.

“We would make the case that it’s possible to draw a direct line from Tintoretto’s dynamic compositions and eloquent brushwork through [Peter Paul] Rubens to [Eugene] Delacroix and [Theodore] Gericault and right on up to [Willem] de Kooning and to the abstract expressionists and to painters of the present day, such as Gerhard Richter,” said co-curator Robert Echols.

Despite dominating Venetian painting in the second half of the 16th century, Tintoretto later became somewhat of a neglected master.

Museum officials through the ages had to contend with his oeuvre being rooted in Venice, works by assistants and followers being wrongfully attributed to the master and the pieces’ colossal size.

His Paradise in Venice’s Palazzo Ducale is considered the largest Old Master painting in the world at some 70 feet (21 metres) wide.

A preparatory oil sketch crossed the Atlantic instead. Painted entirely by the artist, unlike the larger work completed for most part by assistants, it’s still more than 16 feet wide.

MOST VIEWED

  • Archaeologists find ancient remnant

    A team from the Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a gatekeeper statue’s foot fragment at the Tonle Snguot Temple, within a metre of the toe of a statue found in 2017. ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Wednesday that the fragment was

  • Hun Sen to the rescue

    Cambodia has won praise for allowing passengers of the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port, thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s humanitarian act. In a message via Twitter on Wednesday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu

  • EU partially withdraws EBA

    The EU Commission on Wednesday announced the partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, citing a serious and systematic violation by Cambodia of principles in the four core human and labour rights. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.08 billion) of Cambodia’s annual

  • PM orders immediate action against ‘sexy’ live streamers

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered immediate action against women who live stream their sales pitches on Facebook wearing revealing clothing. The prime minister said the practice erodes traditional Cambodian values and disgraces women. Hun Sen gave the order to officials attending the Cambodian

  • Trump tweets praise for Kingdom docking ship

    Cambodia continues to earn praise for its humanitarian act of allowing the MS Westerdam cruise ship with more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board to dock at the Preah Sihanouk port. The praise this time comes from none other than US President Donald Trump. “Thank

  • Japan calls for policy changes

    Representatives of Japanese companies and investors on Wednesday submitted a list of policy recommendations to the government concerning 21 challenges to the Kingdom’s business climate. Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami and leaders of the Japanese Business Association in Cambodia (JBAC), Japan International Cooperation Agency