LA CIVETTA April 2019 - Page 25


‘What do we do about Raphael in the exhibition?’ was a question Wivel asked; Raphael was the direct competitor of

Michelangelo and if he were to be included in the exhibition, the curator would have introduced what Sebastiano faced (unhealthy competition from a bigger name in art). Therefore an executive decision was made to not involve Raphael in the project, where Wivel explained how focus is needed for situations like these. The exhibition planners also definitely played with fire: their last confirmed loan was the Pietà Sebastiano del Piombo. A key picture, the show would not have had a go-ahead without the Pietà – it was truly risky to plan a show around one picture, though risks like this paid off. In addition to this, the show planners were able to expose the back of the painting so viewers were able to see the rare drawings from both artists.

People usually “ignore” the painting, in terms of its true meanings and context, thus Matthias demonstrated the importance of needing to unpack an artwork to the viewer, as well as making it accessible to scholars and public audiences alike. The exhibition managed to change peoples’ perceptions of Sebastiano as a lesser artist and we must note that most of Michelangelo’s collaborators were inferior artists. The public was indeed annoyed to see less of Michelangelo, as Wivel pointed out, since only marginal parts of Michelangelo’s career were depicted; in contrast, this was the core to Sebastiano’s career. To engage the spectators in the tumultuous relationship between Michelangelo and Sebastiano, Wivel spoke about how it is essential to include personal stories in the exhibition and provide a sense of empathy towards the artists; the National Gallery used primary sources of letters and accounts so that viewers could dive deeper.

Overall, Matthias Wivel was able to inspire students with his commitment and curiosity to his field. Planning such exhibitions of globally renowned classical artists requires time, extensive knowledge and sophisticated execution. We hope to have Wivel back again soon to reveal more about curation and the ever-evolving art world.

Sebastiano del Piombo, Pietà, 1516-1517