The Madonna Fragment

December 24, 2008 – January 11, 2009

We heard from a number of you who were curious to know more about The Madonna Fragment. We really don’t know much about the piece other than what can be deduced from observation. The work’s provenance is unknown and perhaps because of the time of year, the streets glowing with vacuum-formed plastic crèches, we found inspiration to present The Madonna Fragment as an object with the potential to connect to a tradition beyond what the facts (or lack of them) might suggest.

Could The Madonna Fragment be a Renaissance work of significance? The style of the rendering does little to convince us of the possibility. Still, that notion generated thoughts of what we value and set aside for veneration, what merits our attention, and what stories or legends lend significance to an object or work of art. These ideas are at the heart of our installation.

While her veil, the tilt of her head and downcast eyes evoke innumerable Madonna portraits, in truth we might just as easily be looking at a country maiden concentrating on her farm task. However, presenting The Milkmaid Fragment didn’t add to our sense of fancy or offer much potency as a relic. Too, the prospect of the miraculous often trumps historical accuracy anyway. So, The Madonna Fragment, charming and worthy enough in our estimation of appreciation and contemplation is presented along with a sense of our individual and collective capacity to attach meaning and magic to any object.

Happy New Year!