Bacchic Man Wearing a Grotesque Mask

Adriaen de Vries (The Hague ca. 1545–1626 Prague)
Bacchic Man Wearing a Grotesque Mask
Cast ca. 1578–80, probably by Giovanni Andrea Pellizzone (Milan ca. 1538–after 1610 Milan)
Bronze
35 1/4 in. (89.5 cm)

This ferocious nude hidden behind a grotesque mask personifies Bacchus, the god of wine and theater. Surmounting a fountain, he presided over a Milanese academy dedicated to the pursuit of artistic freedom during the repressive years of the Catholic Reformation. The depiction of Bacchus as a frightening, muscular figure who crushes grapes like a workman was unprecedented. Attributed to the youthful Adriaen de Vries, this extraordinary bronze was made to shock and to inspire creativity.

Cy Twombly’s and Ed Ruscha’s canvases in this exhibition similarly upset traditional artistic conventions to challenge expectations and inspire new ways of seeing.