Ivan Pinzel (Johann Georg Pinsel), the mysterious sculptor of the eighteenth century who lived and worked in western Ukraine, is often referred to as Ukrainian Michelangelo no less. Artworks of this Ukrainian baroque-rococo sculptor who produced most of his works in the first half of the 18th century, have been exhibited at the Louvre Museum in Paris last year and awed many Europeans with its refined artistry.
Pinzel is held in high regard in Ukraine, his work has been compared to that of Renaissance greats Michelangelo and Bernini. There seems little doubt that Pinzel saw the works by Michelangelo and Lorenzo Bernini, who judging from his style inspired his artwork greatly. Some art historians claim that Pinzel was German; others suggest his Italian origins; still the majority are convinced that he was a native Ukrainian who was educated abroad. Characteristically, no sculptures that could be attributed to Pinzel have ever been discovered outside a rather compact area of western Ukraine, and this fact supports a theory of his western Ukrainian origins.
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Pinzel’s works are so unique that they do not fit any art trend of the eighteenth century and no other sculptor of his time can be found who would rival the power of his images. They are distant echoes of High Baroque and at the same time they look like predecessors of the twentieth-century expressionism movement.
Pinzel’s images display profound and passionately felt religious emotion. The sculptor is a master of a direct sensual appeal to the viewer: through somewhat theatrical pathos, illusionistic devices, the interplay of different forms, extravagant, showy vibrancy and potency of images the artist seeks to impress, to convince, and to arouse an internal response. And he manages to do it perfectly well.
The rediscovery of Pinzel, after centuries of neglect and oblivion, must be credited to Borys Voznytsky, an art historian, recipient of many prizes, honorary member of the Academy of the Arts of Ukraine and former curator of the Arts Gallery in Lviv. It is thanks to his untiring efforts that many of Pinzels’ works were placed in Lviv museums. It literally saved them from imminent destruction and revealed them to the art historians and the general public. One can’t help wondering though why Pinzel’s amazing art has not inspired art historians to study his legacy with a greater thoroughness it surely deserves.
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Ivan Pinzel Musem in Lviv is situated in the building of the age-old Catholic church (2, Mytna Square, Lviv), which formerly belonged to the Franciscan monks. It is a valuable monument of Lviv’s architecture. The cathedral is notable for the fact that its interior has preserved the skillfully made frescos of the 18th century, illustrating plots from the Old and New Testament. The museum of sacral baroque sculpture is reckoned among the Lviv’s most interesting and impressive museums.
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