HERE are two more views of the mural going up on the ground floor of One Gateway Center.
This first shows the artists in front of the mural. They kindly moved the scaffold out of the way. (Left to right: Francesco Farolfi, Lisiane Cagnin, Andrea Heinisch)
Below is a closeup, showing the drawing on the wall that is then filled in with paint, along with a print of the work from which this portion is borrowed.
I asked whether the painting was in oils or acrylics, and was advised it is neither. Rather, the artists are using a historic mural technique in which they mix their own paint. Ms. Heinisch showed me sturdy plastic bags of powdered pigments on a table, to which they add casein ("A white, tasteless, odorless protein precipitated from milk by rennin. It is the basis of cheese and is used to make plastics, adhesives, paints, and foods." -- Dictionary.com
), as a bonding agent, "glue". This is, she says, "a medium they always used in times before", and use of this technique is "very similar to fresco painting." (Ms. Heinisch occasionally struggles for a word. She is from Bavaria, but lives in Florence, Italy, so on this trip must cope with three languages: German; Italian, the language of one of her fellow artists; and English.)
When I said that the scene depicted looked very familiar, like something from the Renaissance that I had seen, she told me, "We put together the Renaissance story."
Pointing to a print on the wall over the table that holds the pigments, she added, "This is The Ideal City by Piero della Francesca
, but in the original this is an oil painting. And then this [the group of three men on the left of the mural]
is coming from Florence. It's painted by Vannini" and hangs in the Palazzo Pitti. Mr. Farolfi adds that it was painted in the 17th Century, perhaps 1620 or 1630. Ms. Heinisch continued, this "represents Michelangelo when he was fourteen years old." He's by the bust of a faun (which is yet to be painted into the mural). "And there's a story about it, because he was making this sculpture and then Lorenzo de Medici came over and he said 'Well, this does not look like an old man', so he [Michelangelo] knocked out some teeth and then when Lorenzo came back and said, 'Now, it really looks like an old man', and he became his favorite artist."
I then asked about another group of figures, on the right of the mural. It comes from the hugely famous Raphael painting, The School of Athens
where it also appears on the right. "Because we wanted to represent the arts [indicating the group including Michelangelo]
, science [the group on the right]
, and the humanities and beauty [the figure on the extreme right carrying fruit on a tray on her head]
. This was painted by Ghirlandaio
in Florence. Ghirlandaio was the maestro
, the teacher of Michelangelo. He went to his workshop."
The mural, thus, is a composite from various artists, all behind a colonnade they added in front of structures portrayed in La Città Ideale by della Francesca.
Newark is not yet The Ideal City. I have observed on my (Resurgence City website
) that "renaissance" is not exactly right for what's happening in Newark, so I prefer the word "resurgence". However, a city in its renaissance striving for the ideal would appear to be the impression the owners of Gateway One want viewers to take away from the mural they have commissioned. That's a little ambitious, but there's nothing wrong with a little ambition.