Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Honoring old gold

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Metal of Honor: Gold from Simone Martini to Contemporary Art, Installation View 1, 2022.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum welcomed a new exhibit on Oct. 13 called “Metal of Honor” honoring the art from Simone Martini and other contemporary artists who all make use of  gold within their artwork. 

The exhibit highlights three artists that utilize similar techniques to Italian artist Martini, who used gold to enhance his paintings of sacred religious figures. The modern artists featured in the display are Kehinde Wiley, Titus Kaphar and Stacy Lynn Waddell who are all Black artists whose art displays Black and African American subjects. 

Martini used gold around his paintings to highlight the religious figures that he was painting. Not only were these works eye-catching, they were the centerpieces which captured the attention of every exhibit patron, leaving them in awe of the works standing in front of them. 

The art is so well preserved that looking at the date that they were originally painted is hardly believable. The vibrancy of the paint is shocking, making it stand out just enough to make the glittering gold background enhance the portraits as opposed to making the paint look old and muted. 

Wiley, who is known for painting the presidential portrait of former President Barack Obama, has two pieces on one of the exhibit walls, which was directly inspired by Martini all the way down to the shape of the frame around the painting. Wiley’s paintings have a modernized feel to them as opposed to the originals but keeps the intention very clear. 

Waddell’s displayed artwork is made solely out of gold leaf and etched to “address the authorship and idealism of art historical narratives.” 

Rather than an extensive description, Waddell’s pieces are accompanied by minimal text, allowing patrons to focus on the art itself, rather than the words printed beside it. The etching into the gold leaf is a beautifully intricate technique that stuns the eyes due to the delicate and difficult nature of the art itself. 

Lining the back wall of the exhibit is the final artist on display, Kaphar, whose art is powerful and shocking to stand in front of. The artist not only makes use of paint and gold leaf but also utilizes black tar that covers a portion of the canvas. It gives a stark contrast to the realistic portrait that looks covered by the tar. 

These two pieces were the most significant in size, taking up the entire wall it was on, making viewers seem miniature compared to the art. 

This exhibit is eye-catching and leaves viewers in awe of the age and elegance of the pieces. Though the section is not huge, the art that does fill the hall gives viewers a lasting impression and an unforgettable experience. The shining gold is striking and historically used to magnify the excellence of paintings while honoring the subject in each piece showing off their importance and prominence for years to come.  

The “Metal of Honor” exhibit is on view until Jan. 16, 2023.

Follow Keely on Twitter @MenyhartKeely.

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About the Contributor
Keely Menyhart, Asst. Arts & Entertainment Editor | she/her

Keely is a junior from Merritt Island, Florida. She is majoring in journalism with a print/web concentration and a minor in advertising. When she is not writing for the Journal, you can find her walking through museums, listening to music or rewatching her favorite shows. You can also find her exploring record stores and obsessing over new music. Keely plans on continuing her work from the Journal after graduating by covering music and entertainment for news publications.

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Honoring old gold