Contemporary Istanbul 2015

Recent works by Mehmet Güleryüz can be seen at Contemporary Istanbul, The Empire Project booth B1 102 between November 12–15, 2015.

"The Flaying of Marsyas" is a work of art painted in 1575 by the Italian painter Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian. Born circa 1490, Titian was one of the most important artists of Europe in the 16th century. "The Flaying of Marsyas", a notable work of the Renaissance period as well as the history of Western art, was first documented in 1655 in a collection in Amsterdam. Throughout its history, the work passed through the hands of various dealers and art collectors in Europe before landing in the Kroměříž Archdiocesan Museum in the Czech Republic in the late 18th century, where it has remained ever since.

From the late 15th century on, Titian lived in Venice where in his youth he was an apprentice of such great masters as Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione. After the latter died, Titian became one of the most sought-after painters in Venice. From his lyricism, which is reminiscent of Giorgione’s style, to his more roughly and freely applied brush strokes and subdued colors, not only did Titian make significant progress in his own art but also played a major part in defining the style of his contemporaries and the beginning of the Baroque era. His painting “The Flaying of Marsyas” reflects this style, which he developed toward the end of his life. It is among works he produced during what could be called his final period and whose common themes are those of violence, suffering, and death.

The main theme of “The Flaying of Marsyas” is based on an Ancient Greek myth that has been given diverse interpretations in the history of art and literature. According to the legend, the satyr Marsyas finds a flute that the goddess Athena had thrown away by a lake. Believing the instrument he found would help perfect his ability to play the flute, Marsyas challenges the god of music Apollo to a musical duel. The duel is held before a jury presided by King Midas and won by Apollo who plays his lyre. To punish Marsyas for his impudence, Apollo orders him to be flayed, and, disapproving of Midas’ judgement, gives the king the ears of an ass. Made famous by the Metamorphoses by Ovid, one of Ancient Rome’s most important poets, this myth is a theme that often recurs in Renaissance art. This widely treated theme is often confused and combined with the musical duel between Pan and Apollo because the myths have similar stories. Titian’s painting is the only Renaissance work in which Marsyas and Apollo are depicted as life-size figures.