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Cal Poly Art Historians Contribute to World-touring Getty Exhibition

Two Cal Poly art and design faculty contributed to the world-renowned touring art exhibition The Renaissance Nude, currently on display at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Featuring more than 100 works by some of history’s best-known artists — Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Dürer, and others, The Renaissance Nude is the first exhibition of its kind to focus on themes of nudity, sensuality, morality, theory, and beauty from the period in depth. The exhibition brings together a wide range of objects from the Renaissance period through paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints. The exhibition will be on display at the Getty from Oct. 30, 2018 – Jan. 27, 2019 before it tours internationally.

ART 371 students viewing Getty exhibit
ART 371 students viewing the The Renaissance Nude Getty exhibit

Thomas DePasquale, a faculty member in the Art and Design Department, was one of the key developers of the exhibition and contributed his expertise in Italian Renaissance art. For five years, DePasquale worked closely with the Getty’s Senior Curator Emeritus Thomas Kren to bring the exhibition together from its inception. DePasquale also contributed as an art historian to its accompanying catalog, The Renaissance Nude, which is available for checkout at Robert E. Kennedy Library.

“Tom DePasquale played an important role in the exhibition, especially in its formative phase,” curator Kren said. “Hired as a research assistant, he helped me to conceptualize the show and to devise the organization of art works within the galleries, which was fundamental to the exhibition’s argument and the public’s experience of it.”

ART 371 students outside Getty exhibit
ART 371 students outside the Getty exhibit

Art and Design Department Chair Giancarlo Fiorenza also contributed his expertise to the exhibition’s accompanying publication. Fiorenza will travel to the Getty to give a talk for the public and deliver a lecture at a scholarly conference surrounding The Renaissance Nude.

“Both Giancarlo and Tom have both been generous and accessible colleagues,” Kren said. “The Getty feels fortunate to have had such outstanding scholars of the Italian Renaissance nearby to work with.”

Students in DePasquale’s class ART 371 Topics in Renaissance Art learned about the exhibit and its themes throughout fall quarter. Along with students in the Italian studies program, the students had the opportunity to travel on a field trip to the Getty in Los Angeles to view the exhibition for themselves.

“That, for me, is one of the great satisfactions,” DePasquale said. “Having been a part for many years of the planning of this exhibition, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about art that I didn’t know before. My understanding of the period, culture and art has expanded enormously thanks to the work on the show. And what do you do with that? You only get satisfaction out of that if you can teach it, if you can pass it on to other people. For me, the biggest reward is to be able to pass on this fascinating aspect of art to my students.”

And his students have responded enthusiastically. Many opted to attend the voluntary field trip to enhance their understanding of the topics discussed in class.

“It’s a wonderful learning experience for all involved: those involved in the show, and those who are seeing it,” Fiorenza said. Some of the exhibition talks, including one given by Fiorenza, are available online. Learn more on the Getty’s website.

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