Reliving Rome: A Bernini exhibition

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Rob Sherron, Contributing Writer

“Bernini: Sculpting in Clay” is an exhibition running in the Kimbell Art Museum until Sunday, April 14. The exhibition is a collection of Bernini’s sketches (about 30 on display) and models (about 40 on display). It juxtaposes these preparations with massive photographic reproductions of the final marble works.

Photo courtesy of NY TimesBernini’s terracotta Model for the Lion on the Four Rivers Fountain is one of the artist’s preliminary works that will remind the viewer of Rome.
Photo courtesy of NY Times
Bernini’s terracotta Model for the Lion on the Four Rivers Fountain is one of the artist’s preliminary works that will remind the viewer of Rome.

It is a beautiful exhibit, and one particularly appropriate for University of Dallas students, as the works on display are some of the highlights of the Rome semester; one can see The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, Apollo and Daphne, the Four Rivers Fountain, the angels of Ponte Sant’Angelo and Bernini’s Vatican statues.

“It was really enlightening. … You get a sense of just how much time Bernini spent designing his sculptures and just how much he loved the process,” junior Emily McKinnon said. “Also, so … much … Rome-sickness. I kept looking at things and thinking ‘I remember that!’ and then feeling sad because I wasn’t in Rome anymore.”

Junior Brittany Eppich is quick to note, however, that while it will pull the heartstrings of Rome-exiles, it still has value for freshmen and sophomores.

“For those who haven’t been to Rome it’s a preview of what’s to come!” she said.

I visited last Sunday, and can confirm McKinnon’s and Eppich’s comments as to Rome-sickness; every photograph is a memory. For those who love Bernini’s art, it’s a wonderful experience; even his models are fluid, incredibly crafted works, and the juxtaposition between the model and the final product is fascinating.

I must warn the UD student, however: Don’t let those numbers I listed mislead you. The exhibit is quite small. Unless one listens to every single audio discussion (audio guides are provided for free with your ticket), one breezes through the exhibit in very little time (and you most likely will not want to listen to each audio discussion; much of it is basic, high school art history).

The tickets are expensive for such a short experience – $14 for individuals with student IDs – and the hours of operation are exceedingly difficult to manage. The exhibit is closed on Mondays and closes at 5 p.m. on every day of the week except for Friday, when it stays open until 8 p.m. On Tuesdays – and Friday evenings – the price is cut in half for students. A far more extensive catalogue of Bernini’s preparations also is available for $65 in the gift shop. To those students who, like me, know that Bernini’s elephant-obelisk is the greatest work of art in the whole of Italy, possibly in Western Europe, I must warn you now that his models are in this catalogue, not on display.

Ultimately, if you feel the call of the Tiber, if you are art-starved in the wasteland of Texas (presumably because you have not yet discovered the rich museum life now accessible to us via the DART), or if you are just looking for somewhere special to take your newfound Valentine, I highly recommend the gallery – but only at half-price.

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