Artistic Bologna

There are a lot of old friends in Bologna, like the Neptune fountain, the statue of Boniface VIII, the two towers. These panels, 3 of the 10 (I think?) Jacopo della Quercia carved to flank the doorways of San Petronio, are really capital-G GREAT. The center of the 3 I have for you here is the Expulsion from Paradise. I once wrote a lot about the triangular negative space between the archangel and Adam – you can see what Michelangelo learned from jacopo, if you think about similar dynamic poses in the Sistine Chapel Ceiling.

Sun! Swedes!


Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

There I was drinking a 2nd cappuccino and deciding whether to go into San Petronio before or after the Morandi Museum when the King of Sweden drove by – in a motorcade, of course.

Later in the day I finally found out why he’s in Bologna in the paper – he’s visiting Alma Mater. By the way, Bologna invented that phrase. The familiar name of the University is Alma Mater Studiorum, literally the Sweet Mother of Studies, but more properly the Wetnurse of Studies.

So when you call your old school Alma Mater you’re harking back to that particular medieval tradition that sees study as nourishment.

Freiburg Tornadoes

Freiburg Tornadoes

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

The weather has gone to hell here – no tornadoes other than sculptural ones, but it’s suddenly chilly again and rainy. Oh, well – I flee to Italy soon.

Click on the picture to go to the flickr stream to see a top view, taken from the spiral staircase, of this Tornado. It’s slowly filling up with bottle caps, gum, and small change.

Finally something good out of the Getty’s dealings with Italy

The Getty is going to cooperate with Italian institutions to bring shows to America from Italian museums – go here to read about the first one and see a splendid image of the Chimera of Arezzo! And in an interesting concept, they’re going to concentrate on important objects from little-visited museums – places off the tourist track.

He gives the UK PM a box of dvds and he writes a letter to the previous president of France.

Please explain to me again why we should believe President Obama is so very smart. Of course, Sarkozy is an anti-book president, and we know how seriously Obama takes books – he’s told us so.
Hint to Hillary in case she gets consulted on these, you know, foreign affairs things – Romano Prodi may have opposed American policy, too, but he’s not president or prime minister of Italy anymore. They are checking with State before they drop these letters in the mail?

Carl Schurz Haus

Carl Schurz Haus

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

My life is not all whining about German grammar. I’ve also been walking around some interesting post-WWII architecture in Freiburg. Not everything was recreating the bombed out Altstadt with reinforced concrete in historical styles. In fact, down the occasional alleyway there are great little modern adaptations of late Medieval houses, as though the stylistic rules were mainly enforced on front streets.

I have a couple of buildings that I just photographed – the downtown post office here and the French headquarters building – now the University Rectorate. Both are worth looking at.

Headlines half seen – and maybe only a quarter read

Seals to shed light on life of Whales in Middle Ages??
No, it was Seals to shed light on life in Wales in Middle Ages

HISTORIANS will be reviewing more than 5,000 medieval seals relating to Wales, held at the National Library of Wales, as part of a new research project.
The team from Bangor and Aberystwyth Universities will look at the seals – used to authenticate and close documents – to find out what they actually tell us about the people who commissioned them, interpreting how they saw themselves and wanted others to see them and what they can tell us about the society that produced them.
Uniquely, one strand of the project will also be concentrating on images of medieval women.
The project is funded by an Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) research grant of £490,000. Bangor and Aberystwyth Universities are collaborating their expertise for the work. The research project also includes digitising the collection, making it more accessible to the general public and creating a travelling exhibition based on the collection.

And here I was wondering about the transitive quality of sea-mammals in the Middle Ages and the value of comparing pinnipeds to cetaceans.

Have I mentioned that I hate German syntax?

Hate is too strong – but gosh, German word order is rigid and counter-intuitive for this English speaker.
Yes, my final exam is Monday. Our teacher got a look at the test and told us that the verbs with obligatory prepositions we’ve been slaving over for the last 2 weeks* get ONE question. As someone who had to make final exams for high school Latin, I can sympathize – but still!
Ask me next month how much I think I’ve learned.
*you know, sich freut (auf/über), träumen von, sich erinneren an, that sort of thing. And yes, I know that English is just as annoying – we fight with our mothers but against enemies. When I was learning to speak Italian we always knew we were getting near the end of a book when we suddenly started reviewing the prepositions, which are hatefully idiomatic in Italian, too. I’ve gotten to the point in Italian that I just don’t worry about them all that much – and strangely I seem to get them right a good bit of the time. Quantity always pays off in language – read more, speak more, and you’ll do better.

Is that Wasserspeier looking at me?

It certainly seems so!

I made it to the upper levels of the Münsterturm today and the views of the cathedral itself and out from the building were fantastic – click and see.

One odd thing I noticed – the late 15th C east end doesn’t quite line up with the 13th C nave – click here and look at the roofs – the fact that the choir is higher isn’t the problem – but it doesn’t line up exactly!

Cologne Finial

Cologne Finial

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

This is a nice decorative touch – in front of Cologne Cathedral is a giant finial – the same size as the two atop the spires. Click on the picture to see those!

Cologne Cathedral was notoriously slow – started in the early 13th century and finished only in 1880 in an act of architectural nationalism, claiming the Gothic for the newly united Germany. Hard to imagine a nation raising that much cash for a building now, especially a church.

Hmmm – this appointment does make “Archaeology in Rome” sound troubled

The Italian government has tapped the man who handled the Naples garbage crisis to deal with another emergency — the shabby state of many ancient monuments in Rome.
Guido Bertolaso has been named special commissioner for the archaeological treasures in the Italian capital and nearby Ostia, the city’s ancient port, the Culture Ministry said Tuesday.
The government also approved some euro37 million ($48 million) in funding to restore monuments that have been partially or completely closed to the public and were further damaged by this winter’s unusually heavy rains.

Here’s the coverage from – not any more detail, though it does hint at the struggle he’s going to have with the Soprintendenza, the standing authority over archeological sites.
Yes, the collapse of some of the supporting walls at the Palatine last year was really worrying – and the Golden House of Nero is closed more often than it’s open. Not that I find it a particularly useful site for anyone who doesn’t already know it well to VISIT, because it’s so chopped up by later imperial construction, but it could be much better handled.
It’s really the person who is interesting here – Bertolaso has a reputation for fixing things. How successfully I’m not sure, but it will be good to see what happens. His career is symptomatic of Italian politics somehow – crisis driven. Here’s his Italian wikipedia entry – I’m surprised he doesn’t have one in English.