The rock star god of classical antiquity, Dionysos reigned supreme over wine and theater, with maenad groupies and satyrs following in his wake. But what happened when his followers found a little too much inspiration in the grape? Come take a closer look at the Renaissance prints in Dionysos Unmasked: Ancient Sculpture and Early Prints to find out! The nine muses, who live placidly with the god Apollo on Mount Olympus, are usually content to inspire theater, poetry, and the other arts from a safe distance, or sometimes put hubristic challengers in their proper place. In the famous Raphael fresco in the Vatican (about 1511), they inspire the poets through song and music. Everything is tranquil, orderly and serene—in short, the perfect setting for creativity. Or so one would think from our Marcantonio Raimondi engraving after the fresco:
Shortly after this well-known print was published, however, a still-unidentified artist, the Master HFE, parodied the composition in such a visceral way that his version could only be known as Parnassus Profaned.
In this version of Parnassus, the god of wine has left his intoxicating mark. Instead of perching on separate mounds, here the muses, poets, and even the trees are violently intertwined. The goats and sheep mingling throughout the composition demonstrate their legendary lecherousness even more clearly, and, as onlookers gasp, even Apollo’s trusty steed Pegasus flies away in disgust. The Art Institute’s Department of Prints and Drawings was very lucky to be able to acquire this exceptionally rare engraving earlier this year, but even this lusciously printed, deeply black impression on creamy paper does not tell the entire story. Indeed, an even rarer-surviving impression of the print (now in the British Museum) pulled before the artist burnished out select details shows the extent of the drunken chaos. The muses and poets are indistinguishable in their fumbling, while some of the trees respond rather humorously to the carnal appetites of their woody neighbors. In the London impression, Dionysos has even intoxicated the forest, making Parnassus home to the world’s most botanical bacchanal.
3 hours 8 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago THURSDAY at 6:00—Join us for a tour of works in our collection presented in American Sign Language with voice interpretation.
23 hours 57 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Humanism + Dynamite = The Soviet Photomontages of Aleksandr Zhitomirsky
The first exhibition in the post-Soviet world devoted to leading political artist Aleksandr Zhitomirsky offers a captivating portrayal of a satirist and loyal citizen who inventively furthered his country’s official causes across a tumultuous half-century.
1 day 1 hour ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SOON—Icelandic artist/musician Ragnar Kjartansson’s intensely durational works often manifest a rare synthesis of pathos and humor.
A Lot of Sorrow is both a music video and extended concert film, in which The National performs its ballad “Sorrow” on repeat for six hours. See the song take on new layers of meaning as the hours pass and fatigue sets in.
Closing October 16—http://bit.ly/2du3GXh