New York City Blog Nov. 16 – Nov. 22

This week I’ve been immersed in Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530), the Florentine painter. The Frick Collection has mounted a small but choice exhibit of his painting and drawings. It’s called “Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action”. It’s an apt title. On the lower level you can study studio drawings of the artist’s wife, Lucretia, various arms and legs, nudes. His sketches of children, gentle and pensive, are wonderful. Doesn’t the unfinished quality of studio drawings bring an artist and his surroundings to life? In the Oval Room there are several paintings depicting biblical figures. Saint John the Baptist is portrayed as a young, virile man decked out with various props that would have alerted a Renaissance person to the saint’s destiny. Nearby, the Frick has placed a studio drawing of the model. The viewer can see how the tough, handsome studio subject is morphed into the dignified, serious subject in the painting. A Salon Evening featured remarks by the exhibition curator, a reading from Robert Browning’s poem about the artist and a wonderful dance choreographed by Marcelo Gomes and danced by Devon Teuscher. If you want to spend time in Renaissance Florence, get thee to the Frick.

After a delicious meal at an upscale east side restaurant named after another great Italian painter, Caravaggio, we walked past the French Consulate on Fifth Avenue. Bouquets had been left in sympathy with last week’s tragedy.

Floral Tribute at the French Consulate in NYC
Floral Tribute at the French Consulate in NYC

“Every nation-state tends towards the imperial—that is the point. Through banks, armies, secret police, propaganda, courts and jails, treaties, taxes, laws and orders, myths of civil obedience, assumptions of civic virtue at the top. Still it should be said of the political left, we expect something better. And correctly. We put more trust in those who show a measure of compassion, who denou­nce the hideous social arrangements that make war inevitable and human desire omnipresent; which fosters corporate selfishness, panders to appetites and disorder, waste the earth.”

—Daniel Berrigan
poet, Jesuit priest