Margaret McCann on Diego Velázquez

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Margaret McCann considers Diego Velázquez's Las Meninas (1656).

McCann writes that "the uncertainties of Las Meninas’s imagery feel modern, and resound with postmodern ambiguity. Yet Velazquez’s doubt is not the existential crisis of Prufrock, anxiously asking, 'Do I dare disturb the universe? In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.' Velazquez’s perception seems closer to the cerebral, searching, whimsical one of Cervantes’s Don Quixote—'Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be'—a Spanish Golden Age hit Velazquez would have known… Despite the gravity of its chiaroscuro, Las Meninas imparts a graceful albeit mysterious levity. The evocative illusions and illuminations realized through Velazquez’s sensitivity to light, despite the economy of paint that dissolves representation into abstract brushwork upon close viewing, make it all believably nebulous—delightfully clearly unclear."

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