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Realism as a Method to Depict Immediacy Unexpectedness and Wonder in Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne and Poussin’s Et in Arcadia Ego
Pages 7 (1757 words)
It’s kind of like that feeling you get immediately after you scrape your knee deeply; you know there is a serious and long lasting pain that is about to overtake you, but for that split second everything just seems to hang in the air.
It’s that disruption of stasis that I felt the night my ex dropped the “we need to talk” line on me. It’s cliche and immature to dwell on emotional turmoil, yet that night my roommate got an earful of conversations and complaints. Before turning in for the night, he left me with that old as time adage that has passed through nearly every broken heart. “You can’t understand happiness without feeling pain,” he told me, and as cliche as the phrase is, it is still something I hold to be true. As I studied Apollo and Daphne1 and Et in Arcadia Ego2, I couldn’t help but wonder if Gian Bernini and Nicolas Poussin were attempting to express the same heartache that is so central to this human condition we share. Beyond the longing gaze in Apollo’s eyes and the lamenting stare of the shepherd’s face, what drew me to this question were not the works themselves, but the emotions I felt because of the works. To capture these emotions, Bernini and Poussin incorporated a novel technique of using realism as a means to achieve the awe-inspiring effect so common to Baroque visual culture. In his 1998 book Italian Baroque Sculpture, Boucher highlights the fact that awe-inspiring effects such as “immediacy and mimicry, and the unexpected and the surprising were all prized by Baroque artists”3. ...
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