Friday, February 20, 2009

Another Sign that I Am Becoming an Art-History Geek

OK, so after my bewilderment at the fact that nobody manufactures a calendar illustrated with the paintings from Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (what? it's obvious!), here's another sign that I'm turning into an art-history geek.

My bedroom has a pair of French doors that lead into the neighboring room. To ensure our mutual privacy and block out noise, my roommate has covered her side of the doors with foam insulation and black fabric. This means that currently, one wall of my room consists largely of a grid of white-painted wood frames and square glass panes with black fabric showing through behind them. It's not terribly attractive, and I want to fix it up by pasting a photo or print to cover each of the glass panels.

Thing is, I'm having trouble deciding what kind of artwork to use. It needs to be a harmonious collection of images, all of them 12" by 12" squares.

So, when I realized that each of my French doors has 10 panes--two across and five down--my next thought was Ghiberti's Baptistry! The Gates of Paradise!

Don't worry, my decorating tastes do not run nearly so much to the gilded and ormolu; I think it would be the height of pretension to have the "Gates of Paradise" on display in my bedroom. But I couldn't resist making an art-history-geek joke about it, all the same. And I'm still looking for an actual set of images to paste in my French-door panels; my current idea is black-and-white photographs, but I haven't gotten any further than that...

Photo: Me, in front of the Baptistry doors in Florence, two years ago. Actually these are not the real doors that Ghiberti crafted: his handiwork is in a museum for safekeeping, and these are replicas manufactured in Japan. It took the Japanese (aided by computers and all the latest technology) four weeks to make these replicas. It took Ghiberti 27 years to make the originals. Kind of dispiriting, in a way. There's also at least one other set of replica Baptistry doors in the world that I know of, and it's installed quite close to home: at Grace Cathedral, Nob Hill, San Francisco.

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