A piece of Venice in Denver

How did the Venetian painters of the 15th and 16th centuries influence the history of art? By simply observing the exhibition “The Glory of Venice” at the Denver Art Museum, the viewer can get an answer to this question.

Entering the hall located on the first floor of the Hamilton Building feels like being in the floating city of northern Italy.

The curators of this exhibition filled the room very well with colors, paintings, a video and baroque background music, transporting viewers through time and space and allowing them to travel through art to the themes that inspired artists like Giovanni Bellini, Tiziano, Marco Bassati and Vittore Carpaccio, among others.

In those times, Venice stood in a moment of chaos and uncertainty over military actions to protect its economic interests. It was also at that time a center of commerce where travelers found all kinds of goods. It was in this context that the artists of these periods, called Quattrocento and Cinquecento, managed to develop a distinctive Renaissance style in which they used light and color on the canvas to make outstanding pieces, through the definition and construction of the volumes and the forms of their compositions.

The exhibition also shows the great affection of the Venetians to the Virgin Mary. It should be noted that Venice was founded on March 25, the day on which the church celebrates the solemnity of the Annunciation – Incarnation. The spectator can contemplate the different works in which Mary is shown with the Child Jesus.

Many paintings in this exhibition show how Venetian art is influenced by the reflection of the changing skies over the city’s canals, as well as the refined designs present in this architecture, rich in textures, small details and mosaics.

 

The genius of Bellini

Between the 15th and 16th centuries, Venetian art took a turn due to the monumental works that were marked by the artist Giovanni Bellini.

Bellini, a teacher who was also called “El Gambiellino,” was born in 1435 and died in 1516. He presented a novelty in his paintings. In his work he excels at spiritual sensitivity, especially in the face’s expressions and in that art of conjugating the sacred with the terrestrial, integrating in the same landscape the spirituality of the religious figures with the environment, in which the minimal details stand out.

 

Before Bellini, religious paintings were icons with infinite backgrounds. Bellini, without removing the sacredness of the characters, was able to paint landscapes where the earthly reality could be seen in tandem with the reality in which they lived.

It also shows the same God who becomes man in a concrete reality and thus recreates the scenery of his works with a very natural environment.

The Denver Art Museum succeeds in bringing a piece of Venice to Colorado, and the exhibition allows viewers to revel in the creativity and harmony that became these artist’s legacy in the history of universal art.

The exhibition will be open until Feb. 12. For further information, go to

http://denverartmuseum.org/exhibitions/glory-venice

COMING UP: Healing hatred and anger after Charlottesville

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The confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the nationwide reaction to it are clear signs of the tensions simmering just below the surface of our society. But we know as people of faith that these wounds can be healed if we follow Christ’s example, rather than the path of revenge.

It was with a heavy heart that I learned about the Aug. 12 clashes between white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville that resulted in the injury of around 34 people and the death of Heather Heyer. It was an “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” melee.

These events remind me of Pope Francis’ 2017 World Day of Peace message, in which he pointed out that “Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for ‘it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come’ (Mk. 7:21).”

What we witnessed in Charlottesville was an outward expression of hundreds of hearts, and as a shepherd of souls, I cannot stand by silently while people allow hatred toward others rule their hearts. Particularly reprehensible were the derogatory words the neo-Nazis and their white supremacist allies shouted toward African Americans, Jews and Latinos. This is not how God sees his children!

Every human being is bestowed from the moment of conception with the dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God, and we are all loved by him, even amid our sin and brokenness. Satan seeks every opportunity to twist these fundamental truths in the hearts of human beings and we can see the devastation it brings throughout history.

It can be tempting to respond to these attacks on our fellow man with violence, just as the members of the Anti-fascist movement (known as “Antifa”) did in Charlottesville. But this is not what Christ taught, since it allows hatred to gain a foothold through a different avenue. It is worth repeating: the human heart is the true battlefield.

Jesus’ response to violence and persecution stands in contrast with the way of hatred and anger. Instead, he taught his disciples to love their enemies (Mt. 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (Mt. 5:39). Christ’s radical answer is only possible because God unconditionally loves every person and is ready to forgive us when we repent. God’s love is the only thing that can cut through the hatred that is bringing people to blows, heal the human heart and form it after his own. As people of faith, we are called to bring the truth of love to these festering wounds so that hearts may be healed by Christ.

Joseph Pearce, the Catholic convert and former white supremacist, is a perfect example of this. In a recent article for the National Catholic Register, he recalls how it was his encounter with the objective truths of the faith that demolished his race-centered identity and seeing his enemies love him when he confronted them with hatred that changed his heart. We must pray for the grace to love as Jesus loves, to love as the Father loves.

“The way out of this deadly spiral,” Pearce says, “is to go beyond the love of neighbor, as necessary as that is, and to begin to love our enemies. This is not simply good for us, freeing us from the bondage of hatred; it is good for our enemies also.”

May all of us follow the great example of Mark Heyer, the father of the woman who was killed after the white supremacist rally. His daughter’s death, Heyer told USA Today, made him think “about what the Lord said on the cross, ‘Forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.’”

Jesus desires that every person have a heart that is whole and free from hatred, anger and pride. He desires to form our hearts, and that only comes about when we are receptive to his unconditional love, for only in receiving his unconditional love will we be able to give it to others. I pray that all the faithful will be instruments of healing for our country by bringing Christ’s forgiveness to their neighbors and their enemies.