From Van Gogh to Michelangelo, with a few stops in between

Hosted by

To be completely honest, animation is not my cup of tea. Nevertheless, there I was, at the Laemmle cinema, watching the just-released animated feature-length film, Loving Vincent. In spite of my skepticism, I was glued to the screen. Just bear with me...

Image Not Available
Chaponval, Anna Wydrych. From the film Loving Vincent, a design painting
by Wydrych ingeniously combining Vincent Van Gogh's paintings
Houses at Auvers and Thatched Cottages at Cordeville

This hour-and-a-half long film consists of 62,450 oil paintings, which were executed by a team of 95 selected artists. Each of them was specially trained to mimic Van Gogh’s very specific style of brushstrokes. After the training, each of the artists was responsible for producing several hundred paintings. So, when you watch the movie, be aware that every second of the film consists of 12 hand-painted frames. The whole project is definitely an intense labor of love – but the final result is anything but laborious.

Image Not Available
(L) Study of a Mourning Woman, Michelangelo Buonarroti. 1500-1505
(R ) The Virgin and Child on a Grassy Bench, Nuremberg School. ~1500

Now, let’s switch gears to the museum galleries. The Getty Museum has just put on display a single stunning drawing by Michelangelo, "Study of a Mourning Woman" (1500-1505) – part of collection of drawings acquired earlier this year. This wonderfully preserved drawing was rediscovered in 1995, pasted into an album in a private library in England. If you take a very close look at the drawing, each stroke of Michelangelos pen calls to mind the surface of his marble sculptures, with traces of his chisel.

Image Not Available
Scenes from the Creation, Simon Bening. 1525-30
Prayer Book of Cardinal Albrecht of Bradenburg

There are two new exhibitions also at the Getty Museum, both with a focus on Renaissance art. Let’s start with Sacred Landscapes: Nature in Renaissance Manuscripts. There are selections of beautifully preserved images, in which artists not only pay homage to religious themes, but in equal measure, pay tribute to nature’s majesty, depicting wilderness, gardens, and farmlands.

Image Not Available
Villagers on Their Way to Church, Simon Bening. ~1550
Calendar miniature from a book of hours

Some of these images are really tiny – the size of stamps – and you wish that the museum would provide a magnifying glass to see all the amazing realistic details. The brightness of the colors is due to the fact that most of these miniatures were hidden for centuries far away from damaging light inside of the manuscripts.

Image Not Available
Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist and a Female Saint in a Landscape, Bellini. ~1501

In another rare accomplishment, the Getty Museum has been able to organize a tour de force exhibition devoted to the great Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini (~1430-1516).

Image Not Available
Saint Dominic, Bellini. ~1501

His 12 paintings and 1 drawing are borrowed from major American and European museums. In this very tumultuous time, it’s particularly rewarding to be able to slow down and meditate in front of Bellini’s religious images – all of them complemented by carefully executed landscapes.

Image Not Available
Saint Jerome Reading in the Wilderness, Bellini. 1505

With attention to the realistic details of nature, along with convincing depictions of architecture of the Venetian mainland, Giovanni Bellini’s Landscapes of Faith make you think that somehow, miraculously, 500 years ago, he used a prototype iPhone to capture defining moments from the lives of all these religious figures.



Benjamin Gottlieb