Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes from the Prado

Mom and I went to the Clark in Williamstown today to see the new exhibit: “Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes from the Prado” and to see a lecture and demo about Flamenco dance.

Folks, put the exhibit on your summer to-do list! From the web site’s description:

The works presented in Splendor, Myth, and Vision are among the finest of the Prado’s unparalleled holdings, selected not only for their relationship to the exhibition’s themes, but also for their beauty and historical significance. Included in this sensuous exhibition are major paintings by Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, Jacopo Tintoretto, Diego Velázquez, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Guercino, Nicolas Poussin, Luca Giordano, Guido Reni, Jusepe de Ribera, and others.

We were both blown away by the size of the paintings. What a thrill to see them so close up. Today we were lucky too in that the gallery was not packed as it will be as the summer progresses. There are lots of places to sit and take in all the grandeur. Many of the women were rubenesque, many of the paintings were based in Old Testament or mythology, there were lots of cherubs. The last three paintings depicted St. Sebastian, full of arrows and trusting God would help him. One of these had hung in a convent, the middle one had been touched up at some point to make him less erotically robed and the third was just dreamy looking for a guy who was tied to a tree and pierced with arrows.

The flamenco dance lecture was amazing. People who study flamenco had come from all over (the lady next to me from Boston) because the presenter, Belén Maya, is creme de la creme in that world. She talked about traditional vs contemporary/modern dancing and danced in both styles. It was mind-blowing that she could speak at all after dancing, because the dancing was incredible. After that she showed several videos of different styles of dancing, answered a lot of audience questions and then… and THEN my friends…

She talked at length about the whole traditional vs contemporary dichotomy. Holy mackeral. It doesn’t matter what world you travel in, the battle is the same. The traditionalists say “you can’t do it that way.” The contemporary people say “we don’t want to HAVE to follow your rules”. She stressed that it’s important to learn the rules, internalize it all and then you can move on. “Contemporary really means – having choices” – ain’t that the truth? But you know what? You need to understand what the background (rules) are and what is served by protecting the traditions. I wish I could show you the whole talk. Meanwhile, she was so grateful, and at the end thanked us, for allowing her to come and speak on all of this. Whoa.

We forgot to take our photo in front of the wall leading into the exhibit but we stopped for dinner on the way home. We were extra hungry because we bushwhacked a little through the wilds of Taborton on the way to Williamstown. We took the regular way home and had dinner at the Lakeview.


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