Published: December 7, 2010
As visitors ascend the stairs to the mezzanine in the National Gallery of Art’s East Building, they will encounter “Winter, (After Arcimboldo),” 2010, a colossal 15-foot-tall, fiberglass sculpture by American artist and filmmaker Philip Haas (b 1954). Inspired by Arcimboldo’s painting “Winter,” 1563, on view in the exhibition “Arcimboldo, 1526‱593: Nature and Fantasy,” Haas’ work pays tribute to Arcimboldo’s exuberant designs for court festivals in Renaissance Vienna and Prague.
A puzzle of natural forms †composed of a human head of bark, branches, twigs, moss, fungi, vines, and ivy †the object is both bizarre and expressive. Completed in time for the exhibition, which is on view through January 9 at the National Gallery, the sculpture will travel to the Gardens of Versailles, the Palazzo Reale in Milan and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Sixteen examples of the fantastic composite heads painted by Giuseppe Arcimboldo are featured in “Arcimboldo, 1526‱593: Nature and Fantasy,” their first appearance in the United States. Bizarre yet scientifically accurate, the unusual heads are composed of plants, animals and objects.
Additional works, including drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer, small bronzes, illustrated books and manuscripts and ceramics, provide a context for Arcimboldo’s inventions, revealing his debt to established traditions of physiognomic and nature studies.
The National Gallery of Art is on the National Mall between Third and Ninth Streets at Constitution Avenue NW. For more information, www.nga.gov or 202-737-4215.
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