Art professors said my work looked “too Renaissance”

Some years ago I went to Florence to study classical painting and was a student at Accademia delle belle arti di Firenze for some time, which included many absences as I would escape into the adjoining Galleria Accademia, which housed Michelangelo’s David among other old master works to study.

I was constantly told by my “Art” professors that my work looked “too Renaissance-like” and they said they wanted me to “express myself” and “be myself” (whatever that means). 

In one instance I was asked to do a series of self portrait drawings. I did but when I showed them to my “professoressa”, I will never forget the look of despair, disappointment, and criticism as she exclaimed: “Troppo Rinascimentale!” (Too Renaissance) and begged me to change my approach.

To add to the sadness and ignominy, the Accademia was founded by Cosimo I de’ Medici in the 16th century and such great names as Michelangelo and Giorgio Vasari were associated with it.

A drawing made by Marjan Bakhtiarikish

Kitsch and myth are both historical attempts to live outside history.

— Thomas Elsaesser, film historian