Portia and Brutus, Ercole de Roberti, 1486-90, tempera (detail)
A collaboration between the Kimbell and the Met in New York, the exhibition Art and Love in Renaissance Italy gets reviewed in the New York Times by Roberta Smith. The show runs at the Met through February and then comes to the Kimbell in March.
The very title “Art and Love in Renaissance Italy” is a win-win. It promises romance, desire, youthful beauty, ritual, expensive gift items and possible sex in the land of Romeo and Juliet. It delivers on all counts.
But the exhibition, at the Metropolitan Museum, is not an unbroken string of masterpieces. It has its ups and downs, both visual and emotional. It mixes happy endings and cautionary tales and, toward its finish, throws in some Renaissance pornography. The more than 160 works range across ceramic and glass vessels, jewelry, textiles and books as well as prints, drawings, paintings and sculptures. Most were created as public celebrations of engagements, weddings and childbirth; others served more private purposes.
Some of the objects seem pedestrian. Some of the paintings verge on folk art. But if a perfect harmony of impeccable artistry and that less quantifiable thing called love is not always achieved — well, welcome to reality. The foibles often make the works on view all the more telling and accessible.
I think announcing that the Kimbell has thrown “some Renaissance pornography” into the mix could make for some interested crowds.