Splendor, Myth, and Vision

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Lance Esplund reviews Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes From the Prado at The Clark Art Institute, on view through October 10, 2016.

Esplund writes: “The phenomenal gift of [the show] is its communion of Titian with Rubens. And another astonishment here is Rubens’s 1628-29 copy of Titian’s “Rape of Europa” (1559-62), which is in Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It is well worth the trip, between museums, for this once-in-a-lifetime comparison. In both paintings, flesh is otherworldly. Titian’s and Rubens’s do not resemble human skin. Yet, unlike much of the flesh here, their nudes awaken in us responses that real nudes inspire. Titian’s palette in “Europa” is beautiful, dazzling, mysterious—darker than that of Rubens, who stirs up light and form into a feverish froth. In both versions, vibrating color is so ecstatic that it seems to hover around forms.”

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