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Bacchanal: A Faun Teased by Children

Gian Lorenzo Bernini | Bacchanal: A Faun Teased by Children | 1976.92

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Italian, 1598–1680). Bacchanal: A Faun Teased by Children, 1562–1629. Marble. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, Fletcher, Rogers, and Louis V. Bell Funds, and Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, by exchange, 1976 (1976.92).

The action unfolds as you encircle the piece. A drunken satyr, follower of Bacchus, the wine god, lunges forward to pick grapes as naked sprites, or putti, playfully push him back, while stuffing their own mouths full of fruit. Appropriately, the figures appear precariously balanced, but through brilliant engineering, the sculpture supports its own weight. The squared marble block remains an important ingredient in disciplining the anarchic diagonal movements within the piece. Gian Lorenzo Bernini was only about eighteen when he carved this work in the Roman studio of his Florence-born father, Pietro, and he seems to be showing off all he could do.

"It's done in a very elevated way, but there's a great deal of humor here."

—Luke Syson, curator

"The fiction of the anatomy, it tickles me."

—Bill T. Jones, choreographer and director

"How does an artist take a piece of stone and make it feel like its flying?"

—Jackie Terrassa, educator

All voices: Luke Syson, curator; Jackie Terrassa, educator; Bill T. Jones, choreographer

Transcripts: Beauty and Laughter Entwined (Video), Art or Fiction? (Video)