Refugees and migrants arriving on Lesbos Island, Greece (2015)
"The thin line between reality and performance, documentary and art, fascinates Alex Majoli. In 2015, he traveled to Lesbos, a small island off the coast of Greece, to document the crisis of refugees fleeing conflicts in North Africa and the Mediterranean. Here, artificial lighting creates a scene that resembles a film still, but the emotions that animate the faces of his subjects are genuine. This series was intended to underscore Europe's inability to isolate itself from the suffering taking place across the Mediterranean."
Europa and the Bull, ca. 1645
Bernardo Cavallino and follower (Johann Heinrich Schönfeld? 1609-1683)
Italian, 1616-ca. 1656
Oil on canvas
"The Latin poet Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, tells a tale of the god Jupiter, who fell in love with Europa, daughter of the Phoenician King Agenor. Jupiter, by disguising himself as a bull, succeeded in persuading Europa to climb upon his back and carried her off to the island of Crete. Like many Neapolitan artists of his generation, Cavallino was influenced by Caravaggio, who had worked in Naples, an influence apparent in the dramatic contrasts of light and shade that add drama and anticipation to this scene. There is an elfin quality to the two principal figures here, typical of Cavallino's intense but piquant style. The coarser figures in the background, however, were probably added by an assistant."
Allegory of Vanity
Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
Italian (Genoese), 1609-1664
Oil on canvas
Castiglione was the leading Genoese artist of the 17th century, and many of his works, including this example, are rich in symbolism. The subject is encapsulated by the Latin inscription Vanitas (Vanity) on the base of the urn at the center. The vanity of sensual pleasures, intellectual pursuits and power are symbolized by the overturned urn of flowers that will soon fade and by the discarded instruments of music, science and war. Love is depicted in its most transient form, lust, by the bacchante with her tambourine in the foreground. At her feet lies a sprig of myrtle, a plant symbolizing Venus, goddess of love, and Bacchus, god of wine. The union of Venus and Bacchus produced a son, Priapus, god of lust and fertility before whose statue revelers dance in the background.
Giorgio de Chirico
Italian (born Greece)
Oil on canvas (1913)
In this deserted Italian city, a lone equestrian statue and the arcade of a building cast deep shadows across an empty piazza. Giorgio de Chirico’s sharp perspective and strong colors evoke the melancholy, mystery, and heat of a late afternoon. In the distance, two rippling flags provide the only hint of motion.
Combining his interest in classical architecture, Renaissance perspective, and the unsettling philosophical writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Otto Weininger, de Chirico painted works that were intended to awaken the unconscious mind and reveal the metaphysical realities experienced in dreams.