Antico Slick Picks at Frick

New York - The Frick collection now offers a wonderful show of renaissance bronze sculptures, and art collectors of ArtKabinett network are already lining up to visit. A particular highlight is the exhibition of the works of Antico.

The sculptor Pier Jacopo Alari de Bonacolsi (c. 1455–1528) acquired the nickname Antico (the antique one) for his knowledge of ancient art.

Born in or near Mantua, he probably trained as a goldsmith. In his youth Antico traveled to Rome, where masterpieces of the distant past were coming to light in excavations.

The Renaissance passion for antiquity fostered the collecting of classical Greek and Roman art.

Antico satisfied this demand by pioneering new genres of sculpture: exquisite bronze statuettes that were reductions of monumental ancient marble statuary and life-size busts in the classical style.

Antico's oeuvre, which includes medals and reliefs, as well as busts and statuettes, is remarkable for its fidelity to the spirit of the classical past, as well as for its innovative departures from it.

His small-scale bronzes restore heads and limbs to figures whose monumental ancient prototypes had lost them and feature embellishments such as rich, black patinas, gilding, and silvering. Antico endowed his works with a precious jewel-like quality suited to the sophisticated tastes of his patrons.

Antico spent his career as court sculptor to members of the Gonzaga family, princely rulers of Mantua who promoted a culture of splendor to enhance their prestige. The artist's opulent bronzes found great favor with the Gonzagas, who displayed them alongside ancient works in their collections.

Today, Antico's sculptures are recognized for their role in establishing a canon of classical art and for their technical refinement, which conceals the sculptor's labors behind seamlessly graceful forms.

Works by Antico are rare, and this exhibition — the first of its kind in the United States — presents more than three-fourths of his extant oeuvre, assembled from American and European collections.

The works on view in the adjacent galleries, as well as in the Cabinet at the top of the stairs, follow no single narrative.

Rather, the sculptures are grouped to encourage comparisons between the style, handling, and subject of the master's works, which rank among the high points of Renaissance achievement.

The exhibition in New York is made possible, in part, by The Christian Humann Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah M. Bogert, Mr. and Mrs. J. Tomilson Hill III, The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation, the Thaw Charitable Trust, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.