Tintoretto’s bold innovations highlighted in US show

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A woman looks at Jacopo Tintoretto's "Portrait of a Widow" (early 1550s) during a preview of "Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice" at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. — AFP

Washington — When he was just a teenager, Tintoretto was sent to Italian Renaissance painter Titian’s studio, only to be kicked out within days because the older master got jealous. Or so goes the legend.

What is clear from the first major Tintoretto retrospective outside of Europe, opening Sunday at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, is that the “impetuous genius” critics reviled for his free, “unfinished” style was a bold innovator whose impact can still be felt today.

The exhibition, a debut for the museum’s first woman director Kaywin Feldman, comes on the heels of city-wide celebrations and shows for the artist’s 500th birthday in his hometown of Venice.

Jean-Paul Sartre called Tintoretto the “first film director,” a theatricality seen in paintings like “The Conversion of Saint Paul” (circa 1544).

The eponymous scene happens in one corner of a canvas otherwise dominated by extravagant, zigzagging brushstrokes deliberately left clearly visible -- then a groundbreaking innovation -- to depict events like horses tumbling down an outdoor staircase.

The nearly 50 paintings and more than a dozen works on paper that span the artist’s career, on view until July 7, demonstrate how he lived up to the motto he wrote on a wall as a youth: “The draftsmanship of Michelangelo and the paint handling of Titian.” — AFP


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