Moroni’s Modernity

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John Yau explores the portraits of Giovanni Battista Moroni on view in the exhibition Bellini, Titian, and Lotto: Northern Italian Paintings from the Accademia Carrarra, Bergamo at the Metropolitan Museum, on view through September 3, 2012.

"What is striking about Moroni’s portraits is that he seems never to have retreated into a style, never flattered or generalized the sitter’s features. He kept himself open and empathetic to his subjects, even when they are perhaps a little tense and annoyed at having to be still for so long; even when they are analyzing him and by extension the viewer… By not developing a style, Moroni was able to become “almost anonymous” in his representations. Style, it could be said, is related to caricature, going from the exaggerated (Alice Neel) to the elegant (Alex Katz) to the photographic (Andy Warhol). Moroni’s non-style brought to mind a comment I have heard a number of painters make: There is no progress in art."

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