I have loved the Renaissance since I was a child. My parents introduced me to its art. An inspiring school teacher fired up my imagination about life in that era. A three-months stay in Italy as my family was emigrating from Russia to America allowed me to soak in the actual sites and sights I have dreamt about from the pages of books. I went on to study Renaissance art in college, to write my doctoral dissertation on it, and to time travel to my heart’s content in a series of books: Rethinking the Renaissance: Burgundian Arts Across Europe (Cambridge University Press), Luxury Arts of the Renaissance (Getty Publications), The Medici Giraffe and Other Tales of Exotic Animals and Power (Little, Brown), The Arts of Tuscany: from the Etruscans to Ferragamo (Abrams), To Wake the Dead: A Renaissance Merchant and the Birth of Archaeology (Norton), and Medusa’s Gaze: The Extraordinary Journey of the Tazza Farnese (Oxford University Press). I am now contemplating a novel set in Renaissance Rome.
But in addition to reading and writing about that infinitely fascinating age – and particularly its art, I love teaching it. The idea for this blog came out of a course on Renaissance art I designed and taught at UCLA. You can read about this story of Origins in the first blog.
I see art as a window onto the past, an invitation to a journey into that foreign territory that is both very unlike our own and yet full of parallels, because what underlies art and history are human ambitions and anxieties, emotions and dreams that are quite universal. In my teaching, my books, and my blog I seek to discover aspects of that distant age and to understand ours better in the process. So many of the posts here will stem from art works, be inspired by them, or address them directly. I love Renaissance art and what it can teach us, and I want to share this passion with my readers.