Friday, September 13, 2019
The University of San Diego’s Hoehn Family Galleries opens an exhibit Friday called "Christ: Life, Death, and Resurrection." It draws upon works of the Italian Renaissance from The British Museum and includes a drawing from Michelangelo.
The exhibition is a group of more than 40 works from the British Museum's collection of Italian Renaissance and later prints and drawings. Many of these have never been on display in Southern California.
Hugo Chapman is Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum and curated the show.
"The idea was to both tell the story of Italian art from the 1400s to the early 19th century," Chapman said of the exhibition. "We really wanted to blow the socks off San Diego. So we very much chose our A team, these great artists like Michelangelo. I want just people to look at these works to understand different techniques, to understand how artists have looked to these narratives in different ways and just really kind of get close to these works on paper. This is a chance for everybody to come into this show, free of charge, and just have a look at a couple of works and think about them. I think these are works that you don't have to be a Christian, you can be any denomination you can be agnostic and atheist, it's about engaging with this art thinking about how artists have told these very familiar stories in different ways in different techniques. You know these stories are about birth and death. These eternals in mankind's story."
Even with the internet providing access to all kinds of art and with the ability to enlarge each image, Chapman said there is a reason to see these works up close and personal.
"I love the availability and accessibility of art digitally but I mean there is a real charge about standing in front of a piece of paper that Michelangelo has touched. I mean you can touch your screen of your computer as much as you like but you do not get that sense that you are — and I think that's special about it works on paper — is that immediacy about them. The feeling that you these things have just been set aside and they could have been done five minutes ago and I think you know that is extraordinary. So that's something you really can't recreate digitally," Chapman said.
Derrick Cartwright is the director of University Galleries. He said the exhibit reflects the mission of the university and its Catholic heritage.
"It is a good mirror of the mission of this university both in its Catholic identity but also in its commitment to educate the whole person," Cartwright said. "This is an exhibition, which I think for somebody who's very spiritual, will have a significance that they may never forget. But for our students who may not all have that experience, this is a show that will put them in direct contact with the great minds of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries and they will learn something from that encounter. And that's what we're trying to do with the galleries is to be as broad as possible. This is a show that I think nicely fits in with the strategic goals of this university for its students but also for the surrounding community it engages the world by bringing people like Hugo into town and sharing his knowledge with us."
Chapman described the centerpiece of the exhibit, Michelangelo's "Three Crosses":
"He's probably making his drawing for somebody else to make a sculpture, a sculpture that doesn't survive. He is drawing in red chalk, which is a very characteristic technique. At the top is the three crosses, Christ with the two thieves on either side. That's very detailed and then below it, he shows in a very sketchy way, very kind of cubist simplified way, the group of mourning women really in a frenzy of grief at what they're seeing."
In addition to the works that are here at USD, there are another dozen at the Timken Museum plus the public can come for lectures and galleries talks for a richer experience.
The exhibit opens Friday and runs through Dec. 13.