As we wind down our trip we continue to both expand our borders and develop our awareness of just how much a city like Rome has to offer. On this day we got off the subway at yet another different stop, Barberini, in order to start our tour of Bernini sculptures.
I’m tempte to call every statue or sculpture in Rome a Bernini or Michelangelo, just because they both were so incredibly prolific, and I can pretend to sound knowledgeable. Still, these fountains and statues and peripheries and cornices are so clearly either done by Bernini or by folks who have had to be conscious of his prolixity as to be almost hallucinogenic, making us forget the sheer weight of stone in the lightness and grace and power of the movement and emotion involved.
How did he know what the Grand Canyon looked like?
Sculpting as a craft has changed, and I think that it’s hard for us to appreciate just what these often subtle additions of stone can do to beautify a space. Stone is far more permanent than are any of the other media we associate with art, but it still suffers the vicissitudes of time – sculptures by attacked by hordes of ‘barbarians’ or construction cranes, they can be damaged by thunderstorms or ice or air pollution.
Weight and permanence are stone’s advantages as a medium, of course, but they are also what makes it so difficult to work with. It is also put to a wide variety of construction uses, requiring specific skill sets from those who work it, and those skill sets depend upon the exact work needing done. Dropping huge blocks of stone into place for a city-wide wall is quite a different task than crafting delicate coats of arms and the bees that mark the Barberini family.
It’s a task that Bernini has perfected, and the grace and harmony and delicacy that he carves out of rock (a substance I’m sorta in love with in its own way) awes and delights.