To my dismay, I still can't get the horrible time I had at the anachronistic shambles that was the Maryland Renaissance Festival out of my mind. Really, it was the human version of a hoarder's garage sale there. Pirates, gimps, silk leisure-suited creepers, lingerie-clad not-Victoria's Secret models, vikings, furries, devils, and the list goes on. The only thing missing was something actually from the Renaissance...whoops.
It's as if the organizers and attendants had no idea when the Renaissance occurred, what it was, or why. The Renaissance was a rebirth, a time of great human curiosity. It was an epoch when people got their heads out of the pope's ass (I don't think I mean that literally), and started drawing it instead.
Alas, what I'm getting at is that the Renaissance was the tits (also literally), at least where art was concerned. Enter Giuseppe Arcimboldo, a Milanese painter who later worked for the Habsburg Empire. Not only was his sh*t anatomically tight, but so was his imagination. Ages ahead of his time (maybe he's even still ahead), Arcimboldo combined tromp l'oeil, surrealism, still life and portraiture to make some of the most fascinating paintings that I think ever existed.
The fauna is entirely flora! Really, to dissect every fruit, vegetable and plant that went into creating this portrait Rudolf II, otherwise known as Vertumnus, would take hours, or a least some dozens of minutes because the detail is amazing, the proportions are impeccable and the idea? Well, I think Arcimboldo puts some of his contemporaries to shame with his genius. Seriously, given the choice to stare at the Mona Lisa or one of Arcimboldo's works, I'd easily opt for the latter. Sorry, Ms. Lisa, but your self-satisfied smirk just doesn't do it for me.
However, what does it for me even less is the fact that most of us have never even heard of Arcimboldo. Why? Because people are generally stupid. Although society was smart enough to recognize his talent while he was alive in the 16th century, after his death in 1593 he blipped off the proverbial radar. Idiots... And it wasn't until the early 1900s when more modern surrealists like Salvador Dali started to find value again in Arcimboldo's work. Today, the National Gallery's East Wing is doing the job of making people less blind to genius via a pretty solid exhibit of Arcimboldo's work. The New York Times wrote a pretty good review of it. And as for me? Put simply, this is the real Renaissance Festival. No pirates, no gimps, no teenage anime characters looking to pick up vampires or werewolves. Just pure, fun, interesting, relevant art.