I cannot say that I have intentionally visited a particular museum exhibit more once, but the “Spectacular Rubens” exhibit was the first in which I visited on three separate occasions. It still was not enough.
The density, of what some might say of my Neanderthal head, limits the penetration of many things, and this is true of an understanding of fine art. I can honestly say that the “Spectacular Rubens” exhibit, which visited three museums penetrated my head and moved my heart.
The J. Paul Getty Museum has a web page and video to its restoration. Articles from the Wall Street Journal and the Houston Press may give a critic’s eye, but definitely do not let it taint you from the beauty of the art. I recommend reading a description of a different Rubens exhibit that includes short summaries of each work of art and corresponding images, this will allow assist you in s small way to engage the unique transcendence of his art. At the exhibit, I was most impressed with the straight factual information panels that were at the sides of the paintings and in front of the tapestries. They were historically factual and related the religious images within the context of each work. There was no bias, either for or against the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, in which this art was commissioned and finished.
As a Christian the art lifts you toward the transcendent in a most fulfilling and wonder filled way. I was asked by Another patron inquired of me some information regarding the work entitled the “Defenders of the Eucharist”. He asked me why the piece was named that as he overheard me explaining it to my children. I spoke briefly on the Reformation and how the saints represented in the painting can be read and studied to understand, at least intellectually, the truths of the Catholic Church- as Christianity begun by Christ himself. Saints are a physical and practical example of how the Christian faith has been and continues to be “lived out” on earth. Saints depicted in the painting are St. Jerome, St. Norbert, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine of Hippo, all are known for their devotion of the Eucharist and Jerome, particularly is known for the translating the Bible into Latin.
America’s everyday culture lacks the religious architecture and art that can be seen throughout Europe. Perhaps we could be number with such works as part of our everyday…but seeing those tapestries hung along a museum wall made me think I had entered a sacred space. I recommend such exhibits when they visit your local museum or on your family vacation this summer.