Duccio on Parade

Reproduction of Duccio's Maesta en route to the Duomo in Siena in 2011 (photo: J
Reproduction of Duccio's Maesta en route to the Duomo in Siena in 2011 (photo: Joseph Nechvatal)

Joseph Nechvatal recounts witnessing the procession of Duccio's Maesta (in reproduction) to the Duomo in Siena in 2011.

Nechvatal writes: "Definitely, one need not be Christian to be touched deeply by the social characteristics surrounding art in Italy when found riding on a current of solemn collective significance. Such was the case with my encounter with Duccio di Buoninsegna’s masterpiece “Maestà” (Majesty) (1311) that I studied closely a few times at the Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana in Siena. For me, that huge painting is all about the big deep-blue field of Prussian blue where the eye swims around and the mind floats free. ... But I love how the Madonna’s left knee ties everything in the painting down at a central point in the field of Prussian blue where the eye returns again and again - and rests in pleasure. This powerfully beautiful painting was first installed in the city's cathedral (Duomo) on June 9, 1311. I encountered it ... (in reproduction and re-enactment) on route to the Duomo in Siena in celebration of its 700th anniversary. It was a marvelous performance art event, tinged with communal magnificence."