100 Days of Giorgio Vasari

Does anyone else ever get the sensation of finding a long lost friend when encontering a painting, sculpture or installation?  It happens to me with  Cy Twombly, Roger Campin, Perugino, Yves Kline, Mia Pearlman and any many other artists in my motley crew of friends I've never met.  Over the years, I've collected art-as-friends to the point where I am convinced they are my real friends.  Yes, I am that girl in the gallery hugging herself while sighing "hello, old friend" as I shoot menacing "back off, he's mine" glances at you. I suppose it is that gamine combination of beauty (in the eye of the beholder, remember) and intimacy that makes me head over heels.   It can happen in any space,  whether interior or exterior, because immediately upon approach and recognition, the space becomes mine hence creating a personal relationship with the work of art.  What happens when the space surrounding is really a room of one's own?

The Sala dei Cento Giorni (Palazzo della Cancelleria) , a fresco cycle by Giorgio Vasari, 1511-74, supposedly painted in one hundred days may just be that room.   Often inaccessible, the 1547 Sala dei Cento Giorni is a private, practically sequestered room in the Palazzo della Cancelleria's grandiose piano nobile and is considered one of Vasari's best works.  For the next 19 days, the sala is open in a public showing of Vasari's recently restored Adoration of the Magi (1566).   Last Saturday, 100 Giorni was a party of 1.

Officially mind-blown.  Ceiling-to-floor frescoes  leave practically no room to breathe.  (Note:  the ceiling is beautiful wood coffered).   Visual stories of Pope Paul III traverse the walls in bombastic style true to mannerism-- robust color, slightly exagerated movement and an articulate point of view. The smaller details such as three-dimensional painting (stairs, columns, anything architectonic) and ignudi are hypnotizing homages to classicism.  It was almost, but not quite, possible to overlook the Adoration of the Magi which looms front and center under reinforced glass.  With a more patient glance at the Adoration, I was captivated again by movement and in particular by the hands whose detail and pose caught the personality of each figure.

I'll admit that in my head Vasari was an art historian with some paintings on the side-- perhaps this logic was due to years of reading [Vasari is known in wider circles as the first art historian for  enning the Lives of the Artists, an anecdotal biography of artists beginning with Cimabue] and never getting up close. . . and yes, personal. . . to his paintings.  Belated apologies, Professor Brown Kessler.

Sala dei Centi Giorni, Palazzo della Cancelleria

Piazza della Cancelleria 1 (Campo de' Fiori)

through December 4, 2011

10 am to 7:30pm, 5 euro