A Multimedia Installation: Bernini's "Ecstasy of St. Teresa"

This seminar will focus on Gianlorenzo Bernini’s “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” produced for the Cornaro Chapel in Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome. Bernini was one of the major artistic figures of seventeenth-century Italy. For this work of art, Bernini united painting, sculpture and architecture in a theatrical totality, creating the first multimedia installation in the history of Western Art and anticipating a type of art form that only became popular in the second half of the 20th century.  With the “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa,” Bernini dissolved the traditional barrier that separates the world in which we live and that of the work of art. After studying the religious, political and artistic aspects of the “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” – including the contemporary responses to the shockingly sensual content of this religious work – we will explore the various facets of Bernini’s artistic legacy. For instance, we will investigate the artist’s broad range of creations (ranging from the most important fountains of Rome to his refurbishing of the Basilica of St. Peter’s) and his involvement with the theater (by reading one of his plays).