Donatello: The First Modern Sculptor
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Donatello (1386-1466) was one of Europe s greatest sculptors. His strong portrayal of human character and expressive style make his work as appealing today as it was revolutionary in his lifetime. Among the many examples included in this in-depth study of Donatello s achievements is a beautiful terra-cotta relief of the Madonna and Child. Neglected for many years, its quality was at last revealed during the filming of this documentary. It is only one of the many sculptures which can definitely be attributed to the artist. Three acclaimed modern sculptors who admire his work, Elisabeth Frink, Peter Rockwell and Henry Moore, describe the superb effects achieved by Donatello s individual and inventive techniques. For the first time since recent cleaning and restoration, many of his major sculptures can now be seen in all the brilliance of their color and detail. Shot on location in Florence, Siena, Venice, Padua and London, Few more completely satisfying arts documentaries can be imagined than Donatello. Directed by Ann Turner
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Top Customer Reviews
The graphic designer, however, should be fired! The sculptures on the extras index are by del a Robbia not by Donatello!
By choice I would have had longer looks at the complete sculptures and a much slower camera over the details, having complained about all that, I would not be with out this film. Buy it, is my advice.
Donatello was one of the geniuses of the Renaissance; he deserves better than this.
One of the things I first noticed was the way the light reflected from his bronzes. A few minutes later, a sculptor who had studied his work illustrated how these innovative light effects had been achieved. Similarly, another expert in relief carving, demonstrated the new techniques Donatello used to produce his bas reliefs. It was as if he merely drew a line on a piece of paper and in doing so turned hard stone into something light and airy.
The opening scene of the DVD is the pouring of molten glass into a mould made from one of Donatello's terracotta sculptures.The actual terracotta which is a devotional piece placed on the outside wall of a private home, has long been thought to be a Donatello. An art historian climbed a ladder, opened the glass door and carefully examined the piece and determined that the piece bore the signature workmanship of the Master but failed to connect the terracotta to the glass roundel which had been made in the opening scenes. As an artist, I am a potter who incorporates sculptural elements in my pottery, I immediately understood the significance of the historian being able to insert his fingertips behind the Madonna's jaw but the narrator failed to explain that this proved the terracotta was an original work not merely a reproduction. Only sculptors or professional mould makers would understand the technical principles of undercuts and why these undercuts would have made it impossible to remove a reproduction of this particular piece from a mould. A one sentence explanation would have made this point clear for the viewer. This and under lit interior shots of the bronzes in the church of San Lorenzo and the Bargello are the only flaws in the documentary.
There is a newer version available but since I have not seen it, I do not know whether it is the same DVD which was re-issued with a different cover or if it really corrects the lighting problems mentioned above.