Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yesterday we drove 30 miles down to Naples, past rococo malls packed with cars, then along a boulevard sided by three- and four-story mansions near the sea, palm trees edging the two lane road, and “For Sale” alternating with signs for beach access.

We came for the opening of the Picasso exhibit at the Naples Museum of Art, and found two lovely modern buildings, one for the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra with its own galleries, and the other, the Naples Museum, featuring not only Picasso, but a fine collection of modern Mexican masters, with other galleries of modern American art.

Nearly every aspect of Picasso’s range was tastefully on display, our favorites, The Frugal Repast, Women in the CafĂ©, and several portraits of Jacqueline Roque. His drawings, paintings, and pottery, chosen from throughout his long and influential career, show tremendous creativity, classical innocence, and outrage, with absolute simplicity of line and color. I admire his ability to communicate his ideas with a very few lines, whether in the early works or in the later modern abstractions that provoke and challenge the viewer. All show his genius.

The museum was interestingly arranged, with one gallery entirely devoted to contemporary American drawings, some abstract, most compelling those following super-realism, creating portraits, often self-portraits, of startling beauty. The first floor exhibit welcomed us with the exuberant and brilliant canvases of Jerome Tupa who has painted his pilgrim’s journey to the great medieval churches in France and Spain. His larger-than-life canvases bend buildings and glow with vibrant primary colors. A final gallery of paintings for sale (Chuck Close for $68,000), reminds me of how affluent Naples is, notwithstanding the mansions. This link shows highlights of several of these exhibits, including some of the work of Tupa (see below).

Later, we walked along the beach as the sun fell behind the horizon. We’re back on the road this week, paring down to simplicity, carrying the idea of home with us.

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