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

Having been brought up to admire and appreciate Western Classical music and Old Master paintings, Marjan Bakhtiarikish decided to go to Florence to study at Accademia delle belle Arti di Firenze. She did courses at the Russian Academy and Charles. H. Cecil studios and spent time in the department (Gabinetto) of the Uffizi museum — studying and copying from the hundreds of Old Master drawings in the collection.

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