2012-12-10 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Museums are offering an important exhibit in Seoul, South Korea from December 8th, the day the Church celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Seoul’s Hangaram Design Museum is presenting the exhibit entitled “Musei Vaticani”, bringing together through March 31, 2013 a large collection of 70 mostly Renaissance pieces, including decorative artwork, paintings and sculptures.
Tracey McClure spoke to Vatican Decorative Arts Curator, Guido Cornini ahead of his departure for Seoul for the opening of the exhibit Saturday. He notes that while the exhibit opens in the Christmas season, it continues through Easter next year.
Curators took special care in drawing up explanatory panels to familiarize a mostly non-Christian South Korean public with the religious themes of Christian paintings – something that might “possibly send a message of a common human condition which unifies everybody in this world,” says Cornini.
Though South Korea is mostly Buddhist, Cornini points out the “flourishing growth” of the country’s Catholic community and the Vatican Museums initiative is being supported by the Bishops’ conference and nuncio as an expression of the vitality of the local Church.
Listen to the extended interview with Guido Cornini:
Cornini says curators decided to focus on the Renaissance but not on the period traditionally associated with the 15th and 16th centuries. Rather, they begin the exhibit “from Giotto onwards,” reasoning that like Dante Alighieri, the 14th century Giotto represented the avant-guard of a new way of thinking, “a new way of relating in particular to antiquity.”
“We start with Florentine and Sienese artists from the 14th century from the Giottoesque, in fact, school and follow on with the 15th century tradition in Florence and Siena…and some (artists) from other central Italian regions like Melozzo da Forli’, the famous painter of the music making angels everybody goes mad for in the (Vatican Museums) picture gallery.”
But the highlight of the event Cornini says is Raphael’s Deposition of Christ, a cast reproduction of Michelangelo’s Pieta’ for Saint Peter’s Basilica and Leonardo da Vinci’s St. Jerome in the Wilderness - what Cornini calls “one of his most enigmatic works.”
In addition to the Renaissance works on display, two original sculptures, the Bathing Venus and Hercules and Telephus date from the Pope Julius II’s 16th century courtyard of sculptures. Three casts of “the most important (antique) statues recovered in that same period” are also included in the exhibit: the Apollo Belvedere, the Laocoon Group,, and the Belvedere Torso.
“This will be the first time,” Cornini notes, “that people in that ‘remote’ part of the world will experience the possibility to queue – we hope – and to see these masterpieces and their foundations in the way of the Western art system…and Western thought.”
“So it will be a once in a lifetime occasion for these people to see together Renaissance artists on the one hand and the ancient works which inspired these artists on the other hand.”