New York

Carlo Maria Mariani

Sperone Westwater

From a quick glance at Studio per Costellazione del Leone (La scuola di Roma) one might think that Carlo Maria Mariani has a fine sense of humor. Mariani, with meticulous proficiency, paints in the neoclassical style that was popular in Rome in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; in this massive 15-foot-wide painting Mariani stays true to that style, but we immediately recognize that something is curiously amiss. Though all of the details, including postures and dress, are in the style of the period, the faces are distinctively real: they are the faces of Mariani’s colleagues, critics, and dealers. To name a few, Cy Twombly looks out at us from his perch atop a sculpted horse; Gian Enzo Sperone leans gracefully on a sphere, reading; Mariani himself sits proudly dead center, while a nude goddess sleeps at his feet. In case we misunderstand Mariani’s feelings about the pictured cast of

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