Curator Andrea Bayer talks with two Teen Advisory Group members about The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini and its intrigue for teens.
Ethan: I'm Ethan Yaro with the TAG group—the Teen Advisory Group—at the Met. We just saw the new exhibition Andrea Bayer has put together about Italian Renaissance portraiture. What motivates you to study the Renaissance?
Andrea Bayer: When I was a teenager I started to travel a lot with my parents—we went to Spain, we went to Italy, we went to France, we went to the Netherlands—and I was completely taken by seeing works of art in their original locations. I had always loved history, and the works of art brought it alive for me. If you had asked me twenty years ago, I would tell you that I think I know a lot about the Renaissance, and now I feel that I am just scratching the surface. There is always more for me to learn about.
DeAndre: My name is DeAndre Brye and my question is: What is your favorite work of art in this show?
Andrea Bayer: I actually find it very, very difficult to fix on one favorite work of art. I am very enthusiastic about a lot of the different works of art in this show. If you force me, I will tell you that one of the things that took my breath away was the great terracotta sculpture by Benedetto da Maiano of Filippo Strozzi because I felt that I was in the presence of someone so alive, who clawed his way back to Florence from exile, who built the greatest palace in the city, and who wanted to preserve his appearance for posterity in these works by Benedetto da Maiano.
DeAndre: My final question is: Why do you think teens should come visit this show?
Andrea Bayer: This exhibition should be appealing to almost anyone because the subject matter is something that we all know. It's all about people. It shows us what people from the fifteenth century looked like, how they wanted to present themselves, about their status, about their occupations, about their ages, about their beauty. I think it should particularly appeal to teens because these are issues about which they are all thinking: Who am I? What do I want to look like? What do I want people to take away after they have met me? About the way I present myself: my hair, my clothes, my attitude, my mood. And you can see how a fifteen-year-old girl is presenting herself in Florence in 1440, and you can see how a twenty-two-year-old man is presenting himself in Venice in 1490. I think that it's going to ring true for teens in a very particular way.