Wednesday, June 20, 2012
ART HISTORY NERD ALERT: THE GHENT ALTARPIECE AND THE GETTY
At work we get the Getty Institute's newsletter in the mail. Normally I page over it in search of the next stack of books I will add to my ever-growing Amazon check out cart. This time, however, I discovered a project that was far more compelling: the Getty now offers a website that represents the culmination of a year-long conservation effort of Van Eyck's seminal masterpiece the Ghent Altarpiece. For art history nerds like me, the opportunity to get up close and personal with this beautiful, important work is too good to be true.
First and foremost, the website lets you zoom in ridiculously close to see every crack and perfectly rendered detail of each panel of the altarpiece. The jewels on the crowns are my personal favorite to explore.
Also cool? Checking out the x-ray images to see what the artist originally painted on that panel. In the top shot you can see the nails that hold the hinge of that panel in place; in the bottom photo you can see a face (specifically an eye) hidden in the folds of the drapery.
What amazes me the most about this project is not only that the website is free (awesome!) but also that it lets us have an encounter with the work that mirrors the intimacy of the moment the artist painted it. Who else can say they have gotten so close as to see the individual threads painted on the angels' coats or the eyelashes of Adam's face?
If you want to take a moment and procrastinate from work, or just take a moment to see something incredibly cool, check out the 'Closer to Van Eyck' website here.