The Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan: for the weird, WEIRD Renaissance

The fancy courtyard of the Brera
The fancy courtyard of the Brera image via wikipedia

Most people assume that the Italian Renaissance was all perfect and classical and Michelangelo and perfect Bramante Tempietto perfectness. But the Renaissance was actually really, really weird. The weirdness actually overwhelms the perfection, but the perfect classicism has gotten better press over the centuries so people tend to assume that was the norm. It wasn’t really, and the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan (Pinacoteca just means painting gallery), demonstrates some of the BEST Renaissance weirdness.

Weirdness like this Mantegna:

So weird! image via wikipedia
So weird! image via wikipediaAnd 

And if crazy foreshortening doesn’t seem strange to you, how about a crazy ridiculous portrait of the long-standing admiral/leader of Genoa, Andrea Doria?:

I mean, that's totally normal and regular right? Most leaders give a hint of peen in their portraits, right? image via wikipedia
I mean, that’s totally normal and regular. Most leaders give a hint of peen in their portraits, right? image via wikipedia

And while they do have some of the better known Renaissance stuff like a Piero della Francesco and a few Raphaels (boring) the best, best thing about the Brera is their consistent commitment to the weird. If you go to the Brera, there’s no way you can think that the Renaissance was all perfect prettiness all the time. Because it wasn’t. And Carlo Crivelli’s pouty baby Jesus is a great example of that:

So pouty. image via wikipedia
So pouty. Unfortunately my photos from the Brera are all lousy and blurry. good job me.  image via wikipedia 

I can get bored quickly in painting museums. It just seems like all the same thing in jewel-toned rooms over and over and over again. But at the Brera, that didn’t happen. It’s pleasantly attended (meaning not packed), it’s not giant so you don’t need a pack mule with snacks, and it has some of the weirdest of the best of the weirdest of the Italian Renaissance. Love it.

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