The late Renaissance was marked by a new artistic style that featured contorted, elongated forms and complex, animated compositions. Fundamental to this style is the Italian concept of disegno, which embraces the physical act of drawing and creative design. Disegno: Drawing in Europe, 1520-1600, an exhibition on view November 13, 2012 – February 3, 2013 at the Getty Center, features drawings and sculpture from the Getty’s permanent collection, including major new acquisitions, works on loan from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and one loan and one gift from a local collector.
“The exhibition highlights the significant shifts in artistic approach and in courtly and popular taste during this seminal period in the history of art,” explains Dr. Timothy Potts, Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “It is a rare privilege to be able to view together such a rich display of the Museum’s extensive collection of late Renaissance drawings, and to be able to showcase some key new acquisitions in this area, alongside works from LACMA and a local collector who is a good friend to the Getty.”
Initially centered in the city of Florence, this new style possessed an overriding concern for the depiction of grace and virtuosity in the human figure, with drawing placed at the center of the process of creating art. Mastery in rendering the anatomically accurate human form had only recently been achieved, and artists of the sixteenth century worked to create carefully drawn forms in theatrical poses that were full of vitality.
“Everyone knows the famous art of the High Renaissance, but this exhibition shows how the artists of the next generation pushed the boundaries of originality still further,” explains Julian Brooks, curator of the exhibition and associate curator of drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
“There was also a sense of divine influence. With some clever wordplay, artist Federico Zuccaro used disegno to express how all artistic inspiration came directly from God—it was, literally, a ‘segno di dio’ or ‘sign of God.’”
The exhibition focuses on three regions that offered varying approaches to the concept of disegno, including works completed in Italy, the Netherlands, and France.