Sunday, February 05, 2006

A perfect day in New York 2.04.06

by Charlotte Deaver

This painting, "The Virgin Annunciate," by Antonello da Messina, was the sole reason we visited the Met today. Circling the Upper East Side for parking, traipsing through the rain, we felt like we were on holiday, tourists in our own city. Having often in the past combined vacation and pilgrimage, this journey had that wonderful sense of being at once familiar and new.

A young Sicilian girl looks off into the distance, her hands slightly raised, as if to both acknowledge and halt the viewer. She is the one being viewed, imposed upon. In this case, she has just been notified by the most consequential of all curriers, the angel Gabriel, that she will bear the son of god. Weighty news, indeed.

Most Annunciations I've seen are sweeping, abundant, magical scenes. Mary bows as Gabriel delivers his solemn message. Witnesses gather. Wings and lilies abound. It is the spectacle of miracle.

Here, rather than a slight, submissive profile kneeling before the awesome figure of Gabriel, a mind, a complicated intelligence, is being confronted. The look of recognition on her face is mixed with distraction and resignation. Yes, I am coming. Give me a moment. Centuries later, we find her still.

Then, after a walk through glistening streets and the best cappucino in town, I sing Tallis and Arcadelt in a Catholic Church while parishioners play bingo in the basement. No, no, I'm not Catholic.

But I am, clearly, Italian.


Anonymous T. Key said...

and the only way you can get her to look at you is to crouch down low on the left hand side of the canvas. the elusive mary.brilliant.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Charlotte Deaver said...

Does that really work? I don't know, I don't want her to catch my eye. I didn't really want her to catch Michael's, though, either (couldn't they all just leave her alone?!).

2:57 PM  
Blogger euskir said...

Hey, with that "Deaver" last name...
Where's the italian blood?

10:27 PM  
Blogger euskir said...

One thing I love, specially when I'm outside my country is to visit museums a second time, just to see one or two works.
Picasso's "Gernika" was one of them (Museo Reina Sofía , Madrid, Spain), and even when I hate Dalí, because he was a betrayer of the surrealism movement (and I love the surrealism movement: Buñuel, Aragon, Breton, Eluard) the Dali's "Buñuel's Portrait" is great(Museo Reina Sofía , Madrid, Spain).

10:33 PM  
Blogger Charlotte Deaver said...

Okay, I'm busted. Italian in spirit, not blood. And a citizen of the universe, of course. I love that you hate Dali for his betrayal of the Surrealist movement! Me too. And also because his work is boring. I'd add Ernst and Cornell to your list. xo

10:48 PM  
Blogger euskir said...

Max Ernst and Joseph Cornell are way ahead from the "tricky Dalí".
By the way, it's ok to be italian in spirit, like the great trumpet player Don Cherry I believe in the Multikulti...Multicultural environment, you can drink in all the fountains with fresh water. Italian, french, african, basque, spanish, north american, and endless list.

12:37 AM  

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