12 Oct The art wears glasses
“I always think about what it means to wear eyeglasses. When you get used to the lenses you do not know to what extent you could really see. I think of all the people that existed before the glasses were invented. It must have been strange because everyone saw it differently depending on how they saw their own eyes. Now, glasses standardize the vision of all to 10/10. This is an example of how everyone become like. Everyone could see at different levels, were it not for the glasses. “
Tool for vision correction, diabolical weapon or intellectual attribute, divided between science and costume, the glasses accompanied by centuries of human history. Its origin remains uncertain, many argue that it appeared in Venice in the thirteenth century, others favor Florentine origin, we know, however, that its first representation dates back to 1352. In Treviso, in the Chapter of the former convent of St. Nicholas , we can still admire the frescoes of Tomaso da Modena who represented the community of Dominican intent in the typical activities of the scholar. Among the forty portraits of the brothers, most important are those of Cardinal Hugh of Provence, with glasses forked, and Cardinal Nicolas de Rouen that uses a lens to read: eyeglasses and lens come from this time in the art world. Notations realistic and symbolic at the same time: glasses and lenses for those with tired eyes on the codes, but also symbols of the sharp eyes of the researcher.
The iconography of the student accompanied by the precious object will be a recurring theme in the reproduction of saints, apostles and evangelists from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Attribute of wisdom and science, the glasses “closely” became the emblem of insight intellectual, while that “from a distance”, alluding to open wider horizons of knowledge, embodied the will to investigate the nature in its entirety.
From the famous St. Jerome in the study by Ghirlandaio, passing through the works of Crivelli and Piero di Cosimo, to lesser-known miracle of San Paolo di Giovanni Bilivert, eyewear was hailed as a wonderful invention capable of amplifying the view and, consequently The knowledge of man.
But this ability to look more and deeper things had not only positive values; like any tool that helps you see well, the glasses was associated with the devil and the deception of the visible. If, as claimed by St. Augustine, the eyes are the gateway through which the temptations entered the soul, then the glasses constitute the privileged helpers: demonic art of alchemy lenses that can zoom in, zoom out and split reality.
In the church of Sant’Agostino in Siena it is a work kept quite particular, became famous for the literary description that gave Leonardo Sciascia in Todo Modo: Saint Anthony tempted by the devil. Painted in 1630 by Rutilio Manetti, the canvas has a curious devil who wears a pair of glasses resting on his nose, a sign of wisdom sorceress and fallacious.
Prodigy travisatore of reality, the vehicle of illusions and false ideas, eyewear not only provides a better view but, in some cases, can be used to spy without being seen the object of his desire. In Portrait harbinger of Guillaume Apollinaire “in 1914, Giorgio De Chirico makes wearing the poet of dark glasses like those of the blind. Protected by these lenses impenetrable Apollinaire looks at us enigmatically haunting figure of a metaphysical dream.
Of various shapes and materials, or sunglasses, eyewear has established itself in the contemporary world as a glamorous fashion accessory. Worn by artists, gallery owners, filmmakers and celebrities, it is an ornament of the person, but also the hallmark of a status or a profession. In 1966 Mimmo Rotella with orangeade with glasses subjected to a merciless critique mass culture denouncing, at the same time, a phase of irreversible contamination of languages.
Art, fashion and design are appropriate object glasses, transforming it into a real prosthetic person. Those butterfly Peggy Guggenheim those rimmed marked by Andy Warhol , from the round of John Lennon to those heart-shaped Sue Lyon in “Lolita” by Stanley Kubrick , glasses have become the mirror of the personality of their wearing revealing the tastes and preferences.
First of all functional objects, glasses crossed eras strengthening, more and more, their communicative value. Playing with a key body as that of sight, they are reinterpreted and renewed through a strong overlap between art and fashion. Universes that coexist and influence each other, art and fashion continue to have interest in a system that surpassed its original function, has become a symbol not more knowledge of good or bad, but of a welfare state or a group of belonging.
In our day artists and designers apply in the creation of real unique pieces, the fruit of ingenuity and craftsmanship, because if art is nothing more than goods, as they had established artists of the Pop Art, then also the goods can be art.
“Me lo indicò, e fino a quel momento non lo avevo visto: un santo scuro e barbuto, un librone aperto davanti; e un diavolo dall’espressione tra untuosa e beffarda, le corna rubescenti, come di carne scorticata. Ma quel che più colpiva, del diavolo, era il fatto che aveva gli occhiali: a prince-nez, dalla montatura nera. E anche l’impressione di aver già visto qualcosa di simile, senza ricordare quando e dove, conferiva al diavolo occhialuto un che di misterioso e di pauroso: come l’avessi visto in sogno o nei visionari terrori dell’infanzia.”
(Leonardo Sciascia, Todo Modo, 1974)