Sunday, June 12, 2011

A million celebrate EuroPride 2011 with Lady Gaga in Rome

EuroPride 2011 in Rome

Europe's biggest Gay Pride event – EuroPride – came to Rome yesterday. Italy is sadly one of the few EU Member States which refuses to recognise civil partnerships for same-sex couples and has no law against homophobia; the sight of a million of us marching, singing and dancing our way through the city centre, past the Colosseum, on our way to the ancient Roman arena of Circus Maximus, where the closing concert and rally was headlined by none other than vociferous gay rights campaigner Lady Gaga, must surely have given pause for thought amongst the ranks of Italy's homophobic politicians.

Dressed in vintage Gianna Versace, Lady Gaga gave a long and impassioned speech that demanded equal rights now and the defense of love before sitting at the piano and wowing the packed arena with spine tingling acoustic versions of her anthem to diversity Born This Way, followed by The Edge of Glory. Whilst television news reports usually give Gay Pride as little coverage as possible in Italy, this year the presence of a global superstar guaranteed live coverage on some channels and the focus of the entire world – thank you Lady Gaga!

"...for the fifteen-year-old, who struggles with their identity, who and what will they have to look up to? Where is their wedding day? Where does the dream of their potential end and can it have no limits? Rome, how can we transform the oppression of the past into the liberation of the future? Let us give birth to a new and international ideology, let us come together and synthesize our histories into today. Let us be revolutionaries of love and use our human powers, our very strong human powers, to save lives and encourage unity around the world."
Lady Gaga's closing words at EuroPride 2011

Watch the final minutes of Lady Gaga's speech at Roma EuroPride 2011 below or click here to watch on YouTube.

Watch Lady Gaga performing live at Roma EuroPride 2011 below or click here to watch on YouTube.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lorenzo Lotto at the Scuderie del Quirinale – Final week!

Recanati Annunciation
Name any of the greatest Italian artists - Giotto, Fra Angelico, Michelangelo, Caravaggio – and the chances are that anybody with an interest in art will instantly be able to conjure up one or two signature works in their mind's eye and will have an idea of that artist’s defining style. I confess, however, that before visiting the major Lorenzo Lotto exhibition currently running at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome, I had only the vaguest idea about the work of this 16th century painter and master of the High Renaissance. In fact, I'm still not entirely sure even now, after having enjoyed the 57 masterpieces on display and visiting the beautifully hung exhibition on two separate occasions, as to whether it's even possible to precisely pigeon-hole this somewhat eclectic and itinerant painter. He certainly left a trail of fascinating and diverse work in the form of altarpieces and portraits, as he travelled from his native Venice, through Marche, Rome and Bergamo, before returning to Venice and then Marche again, where he ended his days as a Franciscan lay brother in Loreto. If you haven't had a chance to see this show yet, there is still time until next weekend and it is highly recommended – it's an immensely rewarding exhibition celebrating an artist whose work at times reminds one of Bellini, Titian or even earlier Flemish portraitists, yet always retains some elusive strangeness of its own that renders it unique.

Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine
Once again, the curators at the Scuderie del Quirinale have put the potentially difficult long gallery spaces to excellent use. The first floor of the exhibition is dedicated almost completely to Lotto's huge altarpieces and large works that are hung on diagonally placed panels that run herringbone style along the side walls allowing the visitor to glimpse the works along the full length of the gallery as they gaze towards the end wall and the fascinating Cingoli alterpiece The Madonna of the Rosary (with Mysteries of the Rosary) (1539). Look out also for the gorgeous Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine, with the Donor Niccolò Bonghi (1523).

Bishop Bernardo de' Rossi
The upper floor is predominantly dedicated to Lotto's extraordinary output as a portraitist and there are some stunning works on display here which are worth the price of the entry fee alone. It is perhaps in the portraits where he most readily reveals his personal influences - the attention to detail in the portrait of the ruddy-faced Bishop Bernardo de' Rossi (1505) is pure Antonello da Messina, whilst the sumptuous Portrait of Andrea Odoni (1527) is a direct stylistic challenge to the Venetian maestro Titian. The upper floor is also where you'll find the Recanati Annunciation (1534), one of Lorenzo Lotto's most famous paintings and the image used to promote the show – this mysterious annunciation scene, with its very corporeal angel Gabriel kneeling before Mary and casting a large shadow in the foreground, whilst a wonderfully observed tabby cat jumps away in terror in the background, has been gracing buses and billboards throughout the city for several months. When Lotto was summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II in 1509, he would leave the eternal city the following year feeling deeply misunderstood. It may have taken Rome 500 hundred years to fully embrace the work of Lorenzo Lotto, but at last the city has hosted an exhibition that gives the artist the recognition he deserved all along.

Lorenzo Lotto is curated by Giovanni Carlo Federico Villa and continues at the Scuderie del Quirinale until 12 June 2011.

All images used in this post are in the public domain worldwide.

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