Ingrid D. Rowland is a Professor at the University of Notre Dame’s Rome Global Gateway. Her latest book is The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art, cowritten with Noah Charney. (December 2017)

IN THE REVIEW

Norwegian Woods

Edvard Munch: Sick Mood at Sunset: Despair, 1892

Towards the Forest: Knausgård on Munch

an exhibition at the Munch Museum, Oslo, May 6–October 8, 2017

Så mye lengsel på så liten flate [So Much Longing on Such a Small Surface]

by Karl Ove Knausgård
Edvard Munch was never simply a Norwegian artist. His appeal, like his own life, has always been both local and cosmopolitan at the same time. He may be best known internationally for his anguished paintings of the 1890s, especially for the group of works he created between 1893 and 1910 and called, in German, Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature). In Norway, on the other hand, he is at least as well known, and deservedly so, for his monumental paintings in the Festival Hall, dedicated to the sun and its pale, oblique Nordic light. Two recent exhibitions, one just closed in Oslo, one just opening in New York, suggest the broad range of this complicated but consistently capable artist.

Roman Rivalries

Sebastiano del Piombo: Lamentation over the Dead Christ (Pietà), circa 1512–1516

Michelangelo and Sebastiano

an exhibition at the National Gallery, London, March 15–June 25, 2017
In theory, they were the perfect combination: a Florentine sculptor and a Venetian painter, a master of line and a master of color, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Sebastiano Luciani, the twin subjects of an exhibition this spring at London’s National Gallery. “Michelangelo and Sebastiano” brought together paintings, drawings, sculpture, and letters …

Martin Luther’s Burning Questions

Martin Luther: Art and the Reformation

an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, October 30, 2016–January 15, 2017

Word and Image: Martin Luther’s Reformation

an exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum, New York City, October 7, 2016–January 22, 2017
The posting of Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses in 1517 set off the spark that ignited the Protestant Reformation, and the Reformation in turn marked a fundamental stage in the forging of a collective German identity. A series of Luther celebrations to mark the event’s five hundredth anniversary provide a fresh, insightful view into Luther’s life and times and the vast, unpredictable forces his rebellion unleashed.

The Virtuoso of Compassion

Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio

an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, October 7, 2016–January 22, 2017; and the Musée du Louvre, Paris, February 20–May 22, 2017

Beyond Caravaggio

an exhibition at the National Gallery, London, October 12, 2016–January 15, 2017; the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, February 11–May 14, 2017; and the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, June 17–September 24, 2017
When Caravaggio shows a humble disciple or an innkeeper, he shows them as full human beings. When he shows suffering, he stands his ground rather than shrinking back. Along with the disciple who screams as Jesus is dragged off to prison and Jesus himself feeling both the kiss of Judas and the blow of Pilate’s thug in a single instant, he paints himself right into The Taking of Christ and its profound tragedy: the figure on the far right of the painting is the artist himself, holding up a lantern.

NYR DAILY

Facing Off with the Old Masters

Jacopo Carucci Pontormo: Visitation, circa 1528–1529; Bill Viola: The Greeting, 1995

One of the favorite sports of Renaissance artists was a contest called the paragone, the “comparison,” the age-old debate about the most expressive form of art. Like sport itself, the fun lay in playing the game with headlong passion, insisting that painting, or sculpture, or architecture reigned as queen of all the other arts. This spring and summer, the Florentine exhibition “Bill Viola: Electronic Renaissance,” organized around the work of the acclaimed American video artist Bill Viola, has brought the paragone into the twenty-first century.

An Island in a Cold Sea

Migrants who have arrived by boat from North Africa at the port in Lampedusa, March 27, 2011

As Donald Trump denies entry to the already small number of pre-screened refugees the US had agreed to accept—among them Syrian and Iraqi families fleeing terrorism who have been carefully vetted and approved by the UN Refugee agency and by the US Department of Homeland Security—Europeans face a far more dire situation: the hundreds of thousands of desperate people from North Africa and the Middle East, who, without any UN help, are attempting to reach their shores. This is the focus of the haunting documentary Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea).

Breakfast in the Ruins

In September 2015, the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles acquired the first photographs ever taken of Palmyra, the great trading oasis in the heart of the Syrian desert. With a history that extends back nearly four thousand years, Palmyra has risen and fallen many times. The worst destruction, certainly, was inflicted between June and September of 2015 by the militants of the Islamic State, who obliterated the ancient buildings amid accusations of paganism and idolatry.

NYR CALENDAR