the master of shadows


It’s hard to imagine an artist more thoroughly out of fashion than the great 17th century Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens. Even the adjectives with which his name is associated are out of style. A contemporary woman described as “Rubenesque” certainly would be affronted and, in Los Angeles, probably reduced to tears. High Baroque, the style in which he painted, is nowadays synonymous with pointless complexity. The classical texts that inspired so many of his masterpieces are nowadays little read outside specialized academia. The fervent Counter-Reformation aesthetic that animates the great altar pieces and devotional paintings seems more than slightly overheated, even to those remnant Catholic traditionalists to whom the era’s theology still speaks

more from Tim Rutten at the LA Times here.