Gianlorenzo Bernini cut through marble like it was butter. The greatest sculptor of the 17th century, the true successor to Michelangelo, he made stone behave as though it were the most supple material in the world. Under his deft chisel it could pulse and swell like flesh, flow like silk and flutter in the breeze. And one of his greatest achievements were the portrait busts that were the subject of this sumptuous exhibition, likenesses so vivid that the princes and cardinals who were his patrons seem about to whisper in your ear. If they really could talk, they would tell you that Bernini's precious works are rarely sent to the U.S., so this sizable show was a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (8/5 10/26) and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (11/28 3/8/09)