Thursday, July 7, 2011

Biography of the Biographer

Giorgio Vasari (1511-74) is best known for writing Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, a collection of biographical sketches of contemporary artists that is filled with amusing anecdotes about famous Renaissance creators, many of whom he knew personally. Vasari was, however, a painter and architect in his own right who served as court artist to Cosimo I de' Medici. One of Vasari's grandest projects was designing the Uffizi, a building constructed to house Florence's administrative offices and guild headquarters under one roof. The Uffizi now serves as one of Florence's finest art galleries, displaying works by many of the artists Vasari wrote about. In order to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Vasari's birth, the Uffizi is hosting a special exhibition now through October. Vasari, Gli Uffizi e Il Duca highlights Vasari's collaboration with Duke Cosimo in transforming Florence into a modern capital. The Financial Times just ran an interesting article about the exhibition and Vasari's accomplishments. I myself have a special debt to Vasari, for his essay on Rosso Fiorentino sparked several ideas for the novel I am presently working on.

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