- The Helsinki City Art Museum Shows Major Exhibition of Works by Akseli Gallen-Kallela
- "Magnum Contact Sheets" ~ A Landmark New Book
- Phillips de Pury & Co Announces Highlights From Auctions of Latin American Contemporary Art
- 200 Artists and Artisans to Exhibit at the Contemporary Art Fair NYC
- The Art & Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany Features "Anime ~ Pop Culture"
- Cindy Sherman ~ The Early Works Catalogue Raisonné & Exhibition Announced
- Martin Lawrence Gallery marks 120th Anniversary of Erté with Retrospective Exhibition
- Swann Galleries American & Contemporary Art Auction in New York
- Domenico Ghirlandaio and Renaissance Florence at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
- Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Opens George Condo's 'Mental States' on View
- Musée Jacquemart-André to Show "Great Spanish Masters from the Pérez Simón Collection"
- With Financial Crisis a Distant Memory and as Art Market Booms, Some See the Risk of Bust
- Made in China ~ Scholarship Holders Exhibit at Kunstmuseum Bern
- Grand Palais Showcases Artwork from the Second Half of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Career
- Staatsgalerie Stuttgart Exhibits the Collection of Entrepreneur Max Fischer
- ARCOmadrid Opens 30th Edition with Works of Art Between the Ordinary and Extraordinary
- The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) opens "From Raphael to Carracci / The Art of Papal Rome"
- Andreas Feininger Photographs at the National Gallery of Canada
- The British Museum In London Welcomes Our Editor ~ Unrivaled And Surprising Collections Of Artworks From Around The World
- This Week in Review in Art Knowledge News
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 09:14 PM PST
Helsinki.- The Helsinki City Art Museum is pleased to present "Akseli Gallen-Kallela: European Master" on view from September 23rd through January 15th 2012. Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865-1931) produced works of infinite sensitivity and excitement of expression. The exhibition includes both small-scale works and monumental pieces. The works are mainly taken from the years between 1884 and 1910, which can be regarded as Gallen-Kallela's creative peak. During that time, Gallen-Kallela was known as an artist whose distinctive Scandinavian style and linguistic form stood out from the crowd of European impressionists and post-impressionists. In Finland, he was considered to be the nation's leading artist and a pioneer in the field of visual arts. "Akseli Gallen-Kallela" is a joint exhibition organised by the Helsinki City Art Museum, Musée d'Orsay, Paris and the Düsseldorf Kust Museum and is the largest survey of Gallen-Kallela's work to be exhibited in France or Germany.
Gallen-Kallela was born Axel Waldemar Gallén in Pori, Finland in a Swedish-speaking family. His father Peter Gallén worked as police chief and lawyer. At the age of 11 he was sent to Helsinki to study at a grammar school, because his father opposed his ambition to become a painter. After his father's death in 1879, Gallen-Kallela attended drawing classes at the Finnish Art Society (1881-4) and studied privately under Adolf von Becker. In 1884 he moved to Paris, to study at the Académie Julian. In Paris he became friends with the Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt, the Norwegian painter Adam Dörnberger, and the Swedish writer August Strindberg. He married Mary Slöör in 1890. The couple had three children, Impi Marjatta, Kirsti and Jorma. On their honeymoon to East Karelia, Gallen-Kallela started collecting material for his depictions of the Kalevala. This period is characterized by romantic paintings of the Kalevala, like the Aino triptych, and by several landscape paintings. In December 1894, Gallen-Kallela moved to Berlin to oversee the joint exhibition of his works with the works of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. Here he became acquainted with the Symbolists. In March 1895, he received a telegram that his daughter Impi Marjatta had died from diphtheria. This would prove to be a turning point in his work.
While his works had previously been romantic, after his daughter's death Gallen-Kallela painted more aggressive works like the 'Defense of the Sampo', 'Joukahainen's Revenge', and 'Lemminkäinen's Mother'. On his return from Germany, Gallen studied print-making and visited London to deepen his knowledge, and in 1898 studied fresco-painting in Italy. For the Paris World Fair in 1900, Gallen-Kallela painted frescoes for the Finnish Pavilion. In these frescoes, his political ideas became most apparent. One of the vipers in the fresco 'Ilmarinen Plowing the Field of Vipers' is wearing the Romanov crown, and the process of removing the vipers from the field was a clear reference to his wish for an independent Finland. The Paris Exposition secured Gallen-Kallela's stature as the leading Finnish artist. In 1901 he was commissioned to paint the fresco, 'Kullervo Goes to War', for the concert hall of the Helsinki Student's Union. Between 1901 and 1903 he painted the frescoes for the Jusélius Mausoleum in Pori, memorializing the 11-year-old daughter of the industrialist F.A. Jusélius. (The frescoes were soon damaged by damp, and were completely destroyed by fire in December 1931. Jusélius assigned the artist's son Jorma to repaint them from the original sketches. The reconstruction was completed just before Jorma's death in 1939.).
Gallen-Kallela officially finnicized his name to the more Finnish-sounding Akseli Gallen-Kallela in 1907. In 1909, Gallen-Kallela moved to Nairobi in Kenya with his family, and there he painted over 150 expressionist oil-paintings and bought many east African artefacts. But he returned to Finland after a couple of years, because he realized Finland was his main inspiration. Between 1911 and 1913 he designed and built a studio and house at Tarvaspää, about 10 km north of the centre of Helsinki. In 1918, Gallen-Kallela and his son Jorma took part in the fighting at the front of the Finnish Civil War. When the regent, General Mannerheim, later heard about this, he invited Gallen-Kallela to design the flags, official decorations and uniforms for the newly independent Finland. In 1919 he was appointed aide-de-camp to Mannerheim. From December 1923 to May 1926, Gallen-Kallela lived in the United States, where an exhibition of his work toured several cities and where he visited the Taos art-colony in New Mexico to study indigenous American art. In 1925 he began the illustrations for his "Great Kalevala". This was still unfinished when he died of pneumonia in Stockholm on 7 March 1931, while returning from a lecture in Copenhagen, Denmark. His studio and house at Tarvaspää was opened as the Gallen-Kallela Museum in 1961; it houses some of his works and research facilities on Gallen-Kallela himself.
The Helsinki City Art Museum is an art institution with a vast area of activity and huge premises. The museum comprising two separate venues - the Tennis Palace Art Museum and the Meilahti Art Museum - which, between them host 10-15 themed temporary exhibitions every year, covering both classic and contemporary art and featuring various inter-genre projects. The museum also manages and finances the Kluuvi Gallery, an art venue focusing on exhibitions of experimental and non-commercial works by Finnish artists, opening its door to projects hard to bring to life elsewhere in Helsinki. The collection of the Helsinki City Art Museum includes all works of art purchased by the city since the 19th century, totalling some 7,500 artworks. The largest part of the collection consists of private donations, including great artwork by the renowned Finnish artists Hugo Simberg, Pekka Halonen and Eero Järnefelt. The Art Museum's building in Meilahti was originally built in 1976 to house the Bäcksbacka donation, which includes numerous treasures of Finnish art such as Ellen Thesleff's Thyra Elisabeth (1892) and Tyko Sallinen's Mirri (1910). The works of art donated by Professor Gösta Becker are another important contribution to the Art Museum's collections. Smaller donations include the outstanding collections of Elsa Arokallio, Aune and Elias Laaksonen, Aune Lindeberg, Iris Roos-Hasselblatt and Martta and Reino Sysi. Roos-Hasselblatt's donation of seven works includes one of the best portraits ever made by a Finnish artist, namely Magnus Enckell's 'Tyra Hasselblatt' (1910). More recent donations include the Contemporary Art collection of former Chief Curator Katriina Salmela-Hasan and her husband David Hasan. It comprises works by the biggest Finnish names of the 1980s and 1990s, including Leena Luostarinen, Chris af Enehielm and Outi Heiskanen. Today, the Art Museum is concentrating on building up its collection of Finnish Contemporary Art. Visit the museum's website at ... http://taidemuseo.fi
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 09:13 PM PST
LONDON.- This landmark book presents an unparalleled wealth of unpublished material, revealing the story behind many iconic and historical images of modern times taken by the world's most celebrated photographers.The book shows their creative process and also acts, in the words of Martin Parr, as an 'epitaph to the contact sheet' as it marks the end of the film era and the move to digital photography. The images featured – both celebrated icons of photography and lesser-known surprises – encompass over seventy years of history: from the Normandy landings by Robert Capa, the Paris riots of 1968 by Bruno Barbey and war in Chechnya by Thomas Dworzak, to René Burri's filmic sequence of close-ups of Che Guevara, classic New Yorkers by Bruce Gilden, and Eve Arnold's iconic portrait of the charismatic and image-savvy Malcolm X. Further insight into each contact sheet is provided by texts written by the photographers themselves or by experts chosen by members' estates. A sumptuous new book, Magnum Contact Sheets, edited by Kristen Lubben, is a glorious monument to a way of working that is no more.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 08:47 PM PST
New York City.- Phillips de Pury & Company is pleased to announce the highlights from its Latin American Contemporary Art auctions. The Evening auctionon November 14th will feature 33 lots with a low estimate of $5,935,000 and a high estimate of $8,205,000. The Day auction on November 15th will comprise of 104 lots with a low estimate of $1,099,000 and a high estimate of $1,585,500. "For years the Latin American sales in New York have been almost exclusively focused on Figurative art of a particularly regional nature, not representing well the extraordinary artistic production of Brazil, which of all the countries in Latin America best understood and absorbed Modernist art of Europe and North America. In 1950 Max Bill had a major retrospective in São Paulo and in 1953 Pablo Picasso's Guernica was brought to the newly formed São Paulo Biennial, the second oldest art biennial in the world. For 60 years Brazil has produced generation after generation of radical and progressive contemporary artists; these men and women not only absorbed Brazilian cultural influences into their work but also drew upon and understood the cutting edge of contemporary art on other continents. The Phillips sale will showcase on the international auction market the importance of modernist and contemporary art produced in Latin America." Henry Allsopp, Worldwide Head of Curated Sales and Exhibitions.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 08:02 PM PST
New York City.- The annual Contemporary Art Fair NYC and the American Craft Show NYC , held between November 18th and 20th, welcomes 200 artists in its second year. Richard Rothbard, director, reports. "In addition to the work of established and emerging painters, photographers, sculptors and artists working in mixed media--who represent over half of the juried exhibitors--the craft show will include recognized jewelry, furniture, fashion, ceramics, glass, wood, metal and textile artisans to fill Hall A at the Javits Center, the weekend before Thanksgiving". Along with the exhibits, the weekend includes a roster of speakers, mostly artists, to instruct their colleagues as well as collectors and students on subjects ranging from practical to theoretical such as how artists market themselves online to the genesis of modern art.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 08:01 PM PST
Bonn, Germany.- The Art & Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany is proud to present "Anime! High Art – Pop Culture", on view through January 8th 2012. Anime, the specifically Japanese form of animated cartoons, has been a hugely successful fixture in Germany since the 1970s, captivating the imagination of young and old alike. An umbrella term, Anime describes a wide variety of techniques employed to make drawings come to life in film. Alongside Manga, the Japanese comic strip, Anime has developed an international pictorial language that appeals to audiences of all ages. Brightly coloured, catchy and energetic, the films and series such as Vicky the Viking, Heidi – Girl of the Alps, Captain Future, Akira, Sailor Moon, Princess Mononoke, Pokémon or Spirited Away have not only left their mark on everyday life in Japan, their high artistic quality and fascinating story lines are also a major influence on 'high art' and popular culture in general.
The Art and Exhibition Hall presents the history, aesthetics and production methods of Japanese Anime. From the very beginnings to the great box office hits and popular small screen heroes of the late 1970s and, finally, to the current computer games, the exhibition explores the fascination of Anime and its often breathtakingly dramatic pictorial language. Organised around genres, the individual sections of the exhibition present a richly varied array of material on pop culture, production, reception, fandom and merchandising. The tour of the exhibition begins with Anime for children (Kodomo no Anime), presenting the early coproductions by German and Japanese studios as well as cels from the famous Studio Ghibli.
The Shojo Anime genre is primarily geared towards young girls, while boys tend to be more interested in the ideals of Shonen Anime: endurance, friendship and sincerity in the fight against monsters and evil powers. But the appeal of Anime is not limited to children and teenagers alone; adults enjoy "Seinen Anime", which ranges from Eroticism to Fantasy and Science Fiction. The exhibition ends with an exploration of the current situation in Japan as reflected in contemporary Anime. The displays are complemented by 'high art' by Amano Yoshitaka, photographs of 'cosplayers' by Oliver Sieber and costumes of actors playing Anime characters. The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive film programme for children and adults.
Prior to the development of computer assisted animation all the individual images of an anime, that is motion sequences and backgrounds, were painted by hand. A sketch (genga) forms the basis for the finished drawing (d?ga) which is transferred onto a transparent sheet. These so-called cels (celluloids) are fixed on a runner, layered on top of each other in front of a background and eventually shot on film. Each picture is painted on its own separate sheet and can therefore be moved individually (layer technique). The impression of motion can be created by exchanging individual cels or by background and camera movement. The total number of cels distinguishes full and limited animation. Full animation uses at least 12 individual cels per second. An animation using less cels is defined as limited animation, a technique that is most of all time and cost effective, but sometimes also used consciously as a stylistic device. Motion sequences appear more jumpy and rough when compared to full animation, which allows for greater detail of gestures and facial expressions, as well as smoother movements with its higher number of individual cels.
Anime based video and computer games are a popular audiovisual part of Japanese youth culture. As globally distributed commodities these games are easily accessible outside the Japanese market and cultural context. Their presentation and thematic orientation are closely related to anime. Despite their fundamentally different form, anime could be seen as the predecessors of these Japanese computer games. Today, besides the many interactive adaptations of manga and anime that are produced, we often find examples going in the opposite direction: anime and manga which are based on popular computer games. The term "Mecha" deriving from the English mechanics, means a colossal combat robot. This is controlled by a pilot either from inside a cockpit or via remote controls. The mobile mecha are not only designed for battle with their destructive powers, they are furthermore a source of protection from outside dangers.
In some anime the heroes battle with the help of cyber suits. These mechanical battle suits are designed to reinforce the protagonists' own power while protecting their bodies at the same time. The vision to create artificial intelligence capable of solving problems, as well as acting and feeling like a human being has a long tradition. The human desire to create man-machines, cyborgs or artificial life with the aid of biotechnology on the one hand reflects a progressive, modern society's fear of the increasing speed of technological development. On the other hand this aspect examines the philosophical concept of the extension of human existence with the help of scientific innovations. The artificial being is perceived as disturbing. The resulting conflict between artificial intelligence and humanity is illustrated by many anime.
The Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Art and exhibition hall of the Federal Republic of Germany) is a museum in Bonn, Germany. Located on the Museum Mile in Bonn it has exhibitions of art treasures and important cultural objects from around the world. It has an exhibition area of 5600 square meters and is one of the most visited museums in Germany. 2-4 exhibitions are an view at the museum at any one time and the museum also hosted the World Chess Championship in 2008. Visit the museum's website at ... www.kah-bonn.de
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:50 PM PST
VIENNA.- Cindy Sherman began studying painting in 1972, at the age of eighteen, at the State University of New York, Buffalo. In 1975, she changed her major from painting to photography. She graduated in 1976 and left Buffalo the following year to move to New York City. Contrary to previous assumption, the famous Untitled Film Stills (1977-1980) were not Sherman's first works. In fact, during the time from 1975 to 1977 in Buffalo, she produced an extensive body of early work that would become the foundation for her future oeuvre. Sherman developed her understanding of the contemporary art movements of the era at Hallwalls, an exhibition center run by the artists themselves, which was founded in November 1974 by Sherman's then boyfriend Robert Longo and Charles Clough. Through the busy visiting artist program at Hallwalls, she got to know Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman, and Chris Burden. However, for Sherman, several women artists were, in her words, "role models,"— including Lynda Benglis, Hannah Wilke, Adrian Piper, Eleanor Antin, and Suzy Lake—because these artists brought their own female bodies into art. Sherman's early work was crucially inflected by artistic forms emerging in the late 1960s and early 1970s, such as film, video, photography, installation, performance, Conceptual Art, and Body Art.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:13 PM PST
NEW YORK, NY.- Martin Lawrence Gallery celebrates the life and work of Romain de Tirtoff (commonly known as Erté , derived from the French pronunciation of his initials R and T) with a retrospective exhibition, sponsored by Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte. One of the most influential artists of the 20th Century, Erté inspired and led an entire art movement, leading him to be known as the Father of Art Deco . To celebrate his illustrious career and inimitable style, Martin Lawrence Gallery exhibits an unprecedented collection of works from his vast portfolio. The retrospective features two floors of rare original works, limited edition serigraphs and bronze sculptures. Also on display will be The Clasp, a jeweled evening bag inspired by a design from 1926. The entire display, including the famed Numerals suite, will be available for acquisition from the flagship Soho gallery which recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. A gala evening was held at the gallery mark this historical event.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:12 PM PST
New York City.- Swann Galleries' November 17th auction of American Art & Contemporary Art offers outstanding unique works and prints by choice American artists and those working in the late 20th century. The Contemporary Art portion of the auction features some highly desirable prints by Andy Warhol, including his 1967 color screenprint of Marilyn Monroe, his earliest print of the blonde icon, who is depicted in shades of gray and black (estimate: $100,000 to $150,000). Also by Warhol are Flowers, offset color lithograph, 1964 ($10,000 to $15,000); New England Clam Chowder, color screenprint, 1969 ($10,000 to $15,000); Cow, color screenprint in purple and black on wallpaper, 1976 ($12,000 to $18,000); and Untitled (Sex Parts), unique screenprint in black on green cloth cut from a man's work shirt, circa 1980—the proceeds from this lot will benefit the non-profit Lifelong AIDS Alliance ($15,000 to $20,000). The works will be on public exhibition Saturday, November 12th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Monday, November 14th through Wednesday, November 16th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Other pop art highlights are Roy Lichtenstein's Moonscape, color screenprint on blue Rowlux, 1965 ($10,000 to $15,000), and Brushstroke, offset color lithograph, 1965 ($12,000 to $18,000); Jasper Johns's Cicada, color lithograph on Arches 88 paper, 1981 ($20,000 to $30,000); Keith Haring's Art Attack on AIDS, unique screenprint in black with hand coloring in yellow gouache, 1988 ($15,000 to $20,000); and Tom Wesselmann's Monica Sitting with Mondrian, color screenprint, 1989 ($12,000 to $18,000). There is a selection of fine color lithographs by Alexander Calder as well as a 1971 gouache, At Last a Yellow Saucer, which reflects much of the playfulness and color of his well-known mobiles ($20,000 to $30,000). Other unique works of note include an oil on board painting by Wayne Thiebaud, from early in his career—before he began depicting sweets—called Blighted Area ($30,000 to $50,000); Red Grooms's Artist on the Beach, color pastels on paper, 1970 ($30,000 to $50,000); a set of four color pencil drawings by Robert Mangold, Arc Studies: 4 Drawings, 1974 ($20,000 to $30,000); and David Hockney's For Riggs and John, watercolor and gouache on the back of a double-page fold from a Hockney catalogue, 1988 ($15,000 to $20,000).
Desirable portfolios are Josef Albers's Homage to the Square, with 10 color screenprints, 1962 ($12,000 to $18,000); Sol Lewitt's Composite Series, set of five screenprints, 1970, and Stars, set of eight color aquatints, 1993 ($10,000 to $15,000 each); and Robert Indiana's Decade, with 10 color screenprints, 1971 ($18,000 to $22,000).
The American Art section of the sale features two paintings by Robert Gawthmey, who is best known for his unromanticized depictions of African-American life in the rural South, from the estate of noted black business leader J. Bruce Llewellyn. Prologue II, a 1962 oil on canvas, depicts churchgoers and farmers; Southern Farmer, oil on canvas, 1966, in which the subject's face is mostly obscured, may be a nod to Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man ($60,000 to $90,000 and $40,000 to $60,00 respectively). There are three other Gwathmey works in the sale, two watercolors with pen and ink, Picking Cotton and Picking Cotton II ($4,000 to $6,000 each); and a pencil drawing, Tin of Lard, which has the same subject as the Southern Farmer painting ($1,000 to $1,500).
Other paintings of note are Carl Brandien's View of Toledo, oil on canvas, 1931 ($4,000 to $6,000); Robert Bliss, Provincetown Beach, oil on board, 1962 ($3,000 to $5,00); David Burliuk's Still Life with Roses, Daffodils and Iris, oil on canvas ($20,000 to $30,000); and several landscapes by Hayley Lever. Rounding out the American art are Elie Nadelman's Mother and Child, pen and ink, circa 1905 ($5,000 to $8,000); Blanche Lazzell's Mosquito Wharf, gouache on card, 1934 ($8,000 to $12,000); William Zorach's The Family, bronze sculpture, 1957 ($10,000 to $15,000); Francisco Zuñiga's Descansado, watercolor and chalk, 1968 ($5,000 to $8,000); and one of Ludwig Bemelmans's illustrations of the beloved children's book protagonist Madeline, gouache and watercolor, 1939 ($8,000 to $12,000).
Swann Galleries was founded in New York in 1941 by antiquarian book dealer Benjamin Swann as an auction house specializing in rare and antiquarian books. George Lowry acquired the business and became president in 1970 upon Mr. Swann`s retirement. At that time, a staff of four organized and conducted book auctions for a customer-base composed mainly of dealers. As the auction world opened to the general public, separate departments were established for different fields of collecting: first photographs, then autographs, and in the late 1980s-early 90s, prints and drawings and vintage posters. Swann is now a world leader in the auction market for works of art on paper. Nicholas Lowry joined Swann in 1995 as head of the Poster department. He was named Principal Auctioneer in 1998 and Vice-President in 2000. In January 2001, he assumed the title of President and took over day-to-day management of the company, which now has a staff of 30; George Lowry stepped up to the new title of Chairman. For over 25 years, Swann has been located on East 25th Street, just one block east of Madison Square Park, adjacent to the historic Murray Hill, Gramercy Park, and Flatiron districts, and right across town from Chelsea. The premises doubled in size in 1999 with the addition of a second gallery and salesroom. Visit the auction house's website at ... http://www.swanngalleries.com
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:10 PM PST
MADRID.- On 23 June the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza presented the temporary exhibition Ghirlandaio and Renaissance Florence. Comprising a survey of quattrocento Florentine art, its starting point is one of the great icons in the Museum's permanent collection: Portrait of Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni, painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio between 1489 and 1490. Displayed in conjunction with this masterpiece of Florentine art is a carefully-chosen group of 60 works including paintings, sculptures, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, medals and various decorative objects. They have been selected to illustrate three key areas of art and culture in late 15th-century Florence: the genre of portrait, the theme of love and marriage, and religious iconography. On exhibition through 10 October, 2010.
Portrait of Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni (1489-1490) The story that lies behind Ghirlandaio's painted image of Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni is as captivating as the work of art itself. More than 500 years after it was painted, the panel now opens a window onto Florentine, Early Renaissance culture: a journey in time that will reveal to us the nature of life in this flourishing 15th-century city, its social and commercial relations and its religious convictions and domestic life.
The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza's painting is the only surviving 15th-century female portrait for which the original location is known. In addition, it includes a number of details, such as the jewels and Book of Hours, that refer to key moments in the life of this young woman, including the story of her marriage. The young Giovanna, born in 1468 into one of the city's leading families, married Lorenzo, a high-born youth from another prominent family – the Tornabuoni, who were related to the Medici- in 1486. The panel reveals how his life was blighted by the death of his young wife while she was pregnant with their second child and how the grief-stricken young man turned to one of the great masters of the day and a friend of the family, Domenico Ghirlandaio, to commission a portrait that would allow him to commemorate and honour the memory of his wife for posterity through an image that would reflect her interior as well as her exterior beauty: "If only art could reproduce the character and spirit! In all the world a more beautiful painting will not be found."
This is the inscription to be found on the cartouche that Ghirlandaio included in the portrait. The words are a variant of the end of an epigram by the poet Martial. The text has a double meaning, firstly referring to the virtues possessed by Giovanna during her lifetime and which could barely be reproduced in images, and secondly, exalting the art of painting and expressing a concept on the lines of "see what painting is capable of". There is also no doubt that the commission from the Tornabuoni, to whom the artist was closely linked, encouraged Ghirlandaio to exert all his efforts and produce the best of which he was capable. The panel is still in magnificent condition, allowing us to appreciate the great care with which it was painted. The face, hands, clothing and objects surrounding Giovanna are painted with great beauty and delicacy. The panel occupied a place of honour in one of Lorenzo Tornabuoni's apartments in the family palace, which was among the most sumptuous in Florence along with those of the Medici. It was displayed in a wide, gilded frame in the "chamera del palco d'oro", a room that had a gilded ceiling and other gilded elements and was located close to the "chamera di Lorenzo, bella", which was the young man's private chamber.
Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni is undoubtedly one of the finest surviving examples of the female portrait, a genre that flourished to a significant degree in late 15th-century Florence. The depiction of the figure in strict profile follows an older model derived from classical art and medals and is used to create an idealised and dignified image of the sitter. This effect is heightened through the linear style with which the figure and composition are depicted, the long, elegant neck and perfect, inexpressive features, all of which are appropriate to the posthumous character of this portrait and the particular nature of the commission. While there are numerous examples of quattrocento portraits of this type, it had become relatively uncommon by the date of execution of this panel, by which time artists favoured the Flemish model of the half- or three-quarter profile for depictions of the patrician classes. The exhibition brings together a sizeable group of works of both types: Portrait of a Woman in Profile (ca.1475) by Piero del Pollaiuolo, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Profile Portrait of a Woman by Sandro Botticelli, loaned from the Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti, Florence) conform to the idealised, archaic type, while Portrait of a Woman (ca.1485) by Ghirlandaio and Workshop, from the Lindenau Museum, Altenburg, is a magnificent example of the second, more realistic and accessible type.
Few portraits are securely attributed to Ghirlandaio, and many of them are in fact considered to be workshop productions or painted by one of his assistants. Some of these images can be seen in the present exhibition and are the subject of detailed study. In this sense it is important to understand the functioning of a workshop such as that of Domenico Ghirlandaio, who became the principal painter to the Florentine bourgeoisie, as well as the exact nature of his collaboration with his assistants, including his brother David, Sebastiano Mainardi, Francesco Granacci and even the young Michelangelo. In the 1480s Ghirlandaio principally focused on painting frescoes for chapels and for this reason did not have a workshop as such, since he principally worked in situ. It is only in 1490 that we find a known location for his workshop, in a building near the Palazzo Tornabuoni. It produced a large body of portraits that were innovative with regard to composition and style, the relationship between figure and background, the influence of Flemish painters, and the manner in which the viewer is involved in the representation. All these elements undoubtedly derive from Ghirlandaio himself, whose principal task would be the conception of the works, the execution of which he entrusted to his assistants.
A noble wedding
The marriage between Giovanna degli Albizzi and Lorenzo Tornabuoni is the best documented of all those that took place in late 15th-century Florence. So splendid was this event that it was still written about a century later, and there are numerous works of art directly related to it, including the frescoes commissioned from Botticelli for the family's country residence. The most splendid acquisitions were undoubtedly those made to decorate and furnish Lorenzo's chamber, the symbolic centre of the couple's new home. The paintings for the "chamera di Lorenzo, bella" in the Palazzo Tornabuoni still survive, most of them in outstandingly good condition. Four of them will now be seen together for the first time in 500 years, including the magnificent tondo of The Adoration of the Magi, a masterpiece by Ghirlandaio and an exceptional loan from the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. The exhibition provides a unique occasion on which to see these works displayed together and juxtaposed with other paintings and objects that illustrate the context of the wedding. The exhibition brings together a fascinating group of secular images of various types that reveal the cultural values described in the nuptial poem that the humanist Naldo Naldi wrote on the occasion of this event. The texts and works of art related to the wedding also open a door onto elite Florentine culture and express prevailing opinions on concepts such as love, beauty and fidelity. In addition, they offer a wide-ranging survey of traditions, values and social ideals, as well as revealing the taste for the ornate and the refinement characteristic of late 15th-century, Florentine patrician society.
In addition to the details of her wedding, a wealth of information survives on Giovanna's short but intense life, recorded in a variety of sources, including the Ricordi - a sort of diary - written by her father, Maso di Luca. Recently rediscovered, it is now included in the exhibition and offers a glimpse of family life at the period. Her account books with annotations on movements of money and goods, for example, those relating to the wedding, also provide detailed information on Giovanna's life.
For this well-born young woman, the noble, cultured, elegant Lorenzo Tornabuoni, only son of Giovanni de Francesco Tornabuoni and Francesca di Luca Pitti, was the best possible match. His father, who had become extremely wealthy as head of the Medici bank in Rome, was also an important art patron, commissioning Domenico Ghirlandaio to paint the capella maggiore in Santa Maria Novella. Lorenzo's sister Lucrezia had married Piero di Cosimo de' Medici, thus establishing even closer links with the city's most powerful family. The celebrations for Giovanna and Lorenzo's wedding lasted three days, from 3 to 5 September 1486. All the details of the celebration are known, from the bride's clothing to the dowry that she brought (which including an illuminated Book of Hours similar to the one depicted in her portrait, as well as clothes, jewels, and toiletry items), and details of the various feasts, banquets, dances and jousts that took place during the days in question.
On 11 October the following year, their first child, Giovannino, was born. The name was chosen in honour of Lorenzo's father, who would immediately order the iconographic programme of the frescoes in the chancel of Santa Maria Novella to be modified in order to include the scene of The Baptism of Saint John, thus adding a religious significance to the sentiments of joy and gratitude for the birth of his grandson. Giovanna suddenly died while pregnant with her second child. The exact date of her death is not known but the burial took place on 7 October 1488 in Santa Maria Novella. Her image, slightly larger than life-size, which Ghirlandaio included in the scene of The Visitation in his famous frescoes, refers to the idea of hope for eternal life, as Christian dogma interprets the encounter between the Virgin and Saint Elizabeth as imbued with the promise of future redemption.
Private devotion and religious iconography
The small Book of Hours depicted at the upper right of Giovanna's portrait is the type of volume that her father gave her when she left the family home to take up residence with her husband's family. The Book of Hours was a prayer book that was read every day during the hours given over to prayer and meditation. In Florence, most Books of Hours intended for the laity (as in this case) were richly illustrated in order to manifest their owners' spirituality. Religious iconography played a key role in the life of Florentine merchants. The "chambers" of almost all their mansions, both in their city palaces and country residences, contained religious images that expressed and emphasised the family's religiosity while invoking protection for the members of that family. Religious art, both in churches and in the home, encouraged the spiritual life, representing in visual form the key moments of the Christian story.
In this section the exhibition brings together a group of works that helps to explain the relationship between illuminated devotional books and paintings, and between devotional panels and altarpieces. The detailed inventory of the Tornabuoni family's possessions, drawn up in 1497, provides a very precise idea of the kind of religious works of art that decorated the residences of the Florentine elite. It is possible to recreate the types of objects and subjects represented and hence the family's taste and particular devotional emphases: in the case of the Tornabuoni, for example, it seems that they particularly favoured subjects associated with the Virgin. We also know the different subjects selected for each of the rooms in the various family residences: The Adoration of the Magi for Lorenzo's chamber; The Annunciation for the infant Giovannino's room; a Descent from the Cross in the palace's chapel; a polychrome, marble Virgin, a Christ the Saviour, a painting of Mary Magdalen, and a panel of Saint Francis in Giovanni Tornabuoni's rooms, for example.
Among the works chosen to illustrate this survey of the decorative and devotional motifs favoured by one of the wealthiest families in Florence are a number of outstanding paintings and sculptures. They include the magnificent Virgin and Child by Ghirlandaio, loaned by the National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Annunciation by Filippino Lippi from the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg; The Nativity with the Annunciation to the Shepherds by the Workshop of Ghirlandaio, from the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam; Lamentation over the dead Christ by Cosimo Rosselli, from the Philadelphia Museum of art; The penitent Saint Jerome by Piero di Cosimo, from the Museo Horne, Florence; a marble relief of The Virgin and Child with two Angels by Antonio Rossellino, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna; another panel of The Virgin and Child by Filippo Lippi, loaned by the Fondazione Magnani Rocca in Parma; and The penitent Magdalen adoring the Cross in a Landscape by Filippino Lippi, loaned from a private collection, New York.
Technical study of the Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni
The last room in the exhibition presents the methods and results of the detailed study undertaken by the Museum's restoration team on the Portrait of Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni. Undertaken in conjunction with the present exhibition and furthering its discursive aims, the intention of the study was to cast further light on this masterpiece of Renaissance art, resolving some of the enigmas that the work conceals and offering a better understanding of the technique and working methods of one of the great Renaissance masters. The gallery in question thus become a scientific study room where visitors can discover the nature of the painting's creative process, how it was conceived, sketched out, modified and finally painted by the masterly hand of Ghirlandaio. As a result, it offers a different and fascinating viewpoint on one of the highlights in the Museo Thyssen- Bornemisza's permanent collection. The findings of this study are published in the exhibition catalogue and on the Museum's website. They are also the subject of a subsequent monographic publication. Visit the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza at : http://www.museothyssen.org/
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:09 PM PST
ROTTERDAM.- This summer Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen presents a major retrospective exhibition of the American artist George Condo. His work is known for its adventurous, imaginative and provocative character. The exhibition features more than sixty paintings and sculptures by this influential artist. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has a unique collection of works by the Surrealists, including masterpieces by Dalí and Magritte. The work of George Condo (1957) has a surreal quality that complements this collection. The selection of works charts the artist's development from 1983 to the present day. His paintings and sculptures explore the genre of portraiture, the human physiognomy and various 'states of mind'. On exhibition through 25 September.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:08 PM PST
PARIS.- For the first time ever, the Musée Jacquemart-André presents a group of paintings never before exhibited in France. The exhibition brings together works from different periods and various artistic movements, offering a fascinating aesthetic and artistic journey. Displaying these works side by side reveals the continuities and breaks with tradition that have marked the evolution of Spanish art. On exhibition 12 March through 1 August, 2010.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:07 PM PST
LONDON (REUTERS).- At the top end of the art market, the financial crisis seems a distant memory -- surging prices saw Christie's and Sotheby's post impressive 2010 results that were back to, or above pre-crisis sales levels. Yet while the market leaders are confident the recovery from 2009's deep slump can be sustained, the prospect of speculative money pouring into art, driven partly by rich Chinese investors, increases the risk of boom and bust, some analysts believe. "This bull market trend could go on for some time, supported by China's rising class of super-wealthy, but eventually the bubble will burst, as it did in Japan in the early 90s and the global art market crash in 2008," ArtTactic said in its latest analysis of the contemporary art market.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:06 PM PST
BERN.- Subsequent to the "Mahjong" exhibition (2005), efforts were made to organize an artists' exchange with China. As of 2007, with the help of the Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei an apartment-studio was set up in Beijing and made available for six months at a time to young Swiss artists. Over a period of two years, the GegenwART foundation and its patron Dr. h.c. Hansjörg Wyss supported this initiative and financed the stay of five artists/artist-couples there. These included the Geneva artists Marc Bauer, Sharyar Nashat and Pierre-Philippe Freymond, the Zurich artist Christian Vetter and the artist-brothers Cyril and Gregory Chapuisat from Founex.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:05 PM PST
PARIS.- "I'm starting to know how to paint. It has taken me over fifty years' work to get this far and it's not finished yet," declared the artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) in 1913, at a time when a major exhibition of his work, including the large nudes painted at the turn of the twentieth century, was on show at the Bernheim Jeune gallery in Paris. It was a revelation. Guillaume Apollinaire was lavish in his praise for the man he considered "the greatest living painter": "Renoir grows greater all the time. His latest paintings are always the most beautiful. And the most youthful." Exhibition running from Sept. 23 until Jan. 4, 2010 at the Grand Palais, Paris.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:04 PM PST
STUTTGART.- To this day, the private collection of the entrepreneur Max Fischer (1886-1975) of Stuttgart is little known although it unites classical modern art of the highest quality. The generosity of the heirs in leaving the collection to the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in the form of a permanent loan is now enabling the museum to pay tribute to this comprehensive collection for the first time, and to present a selection of 180 works - from a total of more than 250 - to the public. The significance of this collection will also become evident in the juxtaposition with individual works from the Staatsgalerie's holdings. On view through 20, June , 2010.
The Collector Max Fischer
Dr. Max Fischer was a collector who played a prominent role in the multifaceted Stuttgart art scene of the post-war period. In amassing his collection, Fischer relied on his own perusal of scholarly texts on art, with whose aid he acquired the ability to assess quality confidently. Apart from the societal circumstances which prevailed after World War II, this was a decisive criterion for the building of a collection concentrating primarily on Expressionism. The result was a superb collection with a clear profile, which - despite its private nature - increasingly received loan requests from all over the world.
An Overview of the Holdings
In addition to Expressionist works on paper by Max Beckmann, Heinrich Campendonk, Otto Dix, Conrad Felixmüller and Max Pechstein, the early acquisitions in the area of modern art also included paintings by the Stuttgart artist Oskar Schlemmer. Fischer purchased further important works in the 1920s primarily in the Kunsthaus Schaller in Stuttgart. Among them are the touching composition Two Girls (ca. 1923) by Carl Hofer, an interior by Oskar Kokoschka (ca. 1925) for which Fischer paid the considerable sum of 3,000 Reichsmarks, as well as the dream-world watercolour Two Female Nudes (1912) by Franz Marc.
Fischer acquired the majority of his collection in the Stuttgart Kunstkabinett which - founded in 1946 by Roman Norbert Ketterer - was to become the most important auction house for art of the twentieth century. Outstanding Expressionist works at what were still very moderate prices convinced the collector to concentrate increasingly on Edvard Munch, Emil Nolde and Max Beckmann. Among the artists of the Bauhaus, he had a special predilection for Oskar Schlemmer and the Cubist-inspired Lyonel Feininger. The Brücke - Blauer Reiter - Bauhaus core of the inventory was enhanced by sculptures of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Wilhelm Lehmbruck, and a substantial number of works by friends of the collector: the Stuttgart artists Alfred Lörcher and Ida Kerkovius as well as their teacher Adolf Hölzel.
The Heavyweight in the Collection: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
With nearly sixty prints, forty-eight drawings and a group of six paintings executed between 1908 and 1924, the artist most prominently featured in Fischer's holdings is Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Max Fischer succeeded in assembling a Kirchner ensemble covering the entire development of the artist who died in Davos in 1938 and including all of the media in which the latter worked. A group of brush-and-ink and pastel drawings - some very large in scale - executed between 1912 and 1915 and depicting women in the studio or on the street constitute a highlight of Fischer's Kirchner collection. During a bidding battle at the Stuttgart Kunstkabinett, Max Fischer relinquished the prominent landscape painting Sailboats near Grünau of 1914, today in the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, to then-director and confidant Erwin Petermann, and purchased the colour lithograph of the motif instead.
Apart from Kirchner, Max Fischer also collected works by Brücke artist Erich Heckel. It is an indication of his expertise that he concentrated on the essential works of printmaking by this artist of the years 1907 to 1919. The latter include his early experiments with the painterly qualities of lithography (Cabaret Singer of 1907/1906?) and representative woodcuts which were groundbreaking for his further work (Two Women Resting; Fränzi Reclining, both of 1909, and the famous White Horses of 1912).
Mavericks: Emil Nolde, Edvard Munch and Max Beckmann
Among the forerunners to the Brücke artists, the simplified, planar art of the Norwegian Edvard Munch is particularly prominent. Fischer recognized its significance for the Expressionists and invested substantial funds in purchasing important early prints. One of the collection's very special works is the frottage Head by Head (1905), existing in only a few copies, for which Munch rubbed coloured chalk into the printing block. This work is juxtaposed in the show with a colour woodcut of the motif belonging to the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart's Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs (Head by Head [Man and Woman Kissing]), 1905).
Max Fischer sharpened the profile of his collection by selling works. In order to purchase an important painting of the 1940s by Max Beckmann (Akademie I, 1944) at a very high price, he disposed of works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec as well as his entire Dürer and Altdorfer holdings. With a dynamic that virtually bursts the confines of the format, the studio painting executed by Beckmann in exile in Amsterdam is yet another highlight of the Fischer collection. The dialogue between the painter lost in gloomy contemplation and the oversize, heroically vibrant model mirrors the artist's depressive mood.
Bauhaus: Oskar Schlemmer, Paul Klee
Already before World War II, Fischer purchased two landscape paintings by Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer (In Front of the Cloister, 1914; Stuttgart Landscape, 1912). The Heroic Scene of 1935, in which the artist - prohibited from exhibiting his works in public - reacted to the political circumstances, was the last Schlemmer work to be acquired by Fischer. The confusion of the densely crowded figures contrasts strongly with earlier large-scale major works (Five Men in a Room, 1928; Scene at a Balustrade, 1931; Boy in Blue and White, 1931).
In the works of Paul Klee, the collection strategy so carefully pursued by Max Fischer over decades is particularly convincing. In 1925, only one year after the Staatsgalerie had acquired the painting Rhythm of the Windows (1920), Fischer purchased the watercolour The Parlour Maid's Suicide (1923). The last Klee acquisition to enter the collection - in 1955 - was A Park and the Trespasser (1939), executed long after the artist's Bauhaus period. Alongside the filigree earlier compositions, this late work using elements of collage and paste paint has an almost frightening quality about it. As is also the case in the late works of Schlemmer and Beckmann, premonitions of death and the threats posed by the events of the time are starkly present here. The collector Max Fischer, who sought the "insight of truth" in his preoccupation with art, was moved precisely by intense works such as this one, and it was they who lend his collection its distinctive profile.
Visit the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart at : http://www.staatsgalerie.de/
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:03 PM PST
MADRID.- ARCOmadrid opens its doors on February 16th to art world professionals from noon to 9 pm, who can now get their passes to the fair online in the Request for Professional Access section on our web. After two professional preview days, the fair opens to the general public on Friday 18th until Sunday 20th, from noon to 8 pm. The public can also get their tickets online. Anyone interested in knowing more about the upcoming fair can find what they are looking for in INFOARCO, also available on our web. INFOARCO contains details of how to get there, admission, galleries, the different sections, awards, prizes, etc. plus lots of useful information on Madrid and what's happening art-wise in the city during the fair. At the same time, this coming February 9th, ARCOmadrid is launching its application for iPhone and iPad, downloadable from iTunes. ARCO runs from 16 February 2011 until 20 February 2011. With a number of 197 galleries taking part this year, 2011 edition has a special focus on Russia.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:02 PM PST
OTTAWA, CANADA - The power, politics and drama that surrounded papal patronage in 16th-century Rome will be revealed in a magnificent new exhibition opening at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) on May 29. From Raphael to Carracci: The Art of Papal Rome represents an unprecedented survey of art in this period. Presented by Sun Life Financial, it will be on view until September 7, 2009. This large international loan exhibition brings together over 150 exceptional paintings and drawings for the first time by celebrated artists such as Michelangelo, Titian, El Greco, Vasari, Barocci and Annibale Carracci. In addition, pieces by lesser known, but nonetheless superb artists are also included.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:01 PM PST
OTTAWA, CANADA - Two years ago, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) received an extraordinary donation of 252 exquisite photographs by Andreas Feininger, one of the greatest modernist photographers. Best known for his dynamic urban views of Manhattan and Chicago, Feininger left a legacy on his 1999 death at 93 of 346 Life magazine photo-essays, thousands of photographs and more than 50 publications. Beginning this Saturday, until August 28, visitors to the NGC can enjoy 27 of these remarkable works in Gallery C202b.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:00 PM PST
First founded in 1753, the British Museum now houses more than an incredible 7 million objects from all human history, of which approximately 50,000 items are displayed in 75,000 m² of exhibition space, making it one of the largest and most important human history museums in the world. There are nearly one hundred galleries open to the public, representing 2 miles (3.2 km) of exhibition space. From 5,000 visitors in its first year, the museum is now visited by nearly 6 million people annually. Originally founded following the government's purchase of Sir Hans Sloane's huge private collection of curios, the museum has continued to expand throughout its history. The first exhibition galleries and reading rooms opened in Montagu House, Bloomsbury, London, in 1759. Later donations from Captain Cook and Greek and Roman artifacts from Sir William Hamilton saw the museum rapidly expand during the 18th century. During the 19th century, the British Museum became one of the most powerful in the world. Bolstered by objects such as the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and Babylonian artifacts, the museum soon outgrew its surroundings, and thus a new, neo-classical building was designed by Sir Robert Smirke, which was completed in 1831. The building was constructed using up-to-the-minute 1820s technology. Built on a concrete floor, the frame of the building was made from cast iron and filled in with London stock brick. The external architecture of the Museum was designed to reflect the purpose of the building. The monumental South entrance, with its stairs, colonnade and pediment, was intended to reflect the wondrous objects housed inside. As the museum continued to grow, it actively pursued and acquired new exhibits, sending archaeologists abroad to find treasures of the ancient world. Excavations in Lykia, Assyria and Mesopotamia threw up incredible finds, not least Charles Newton's discovery of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Later on John Turtle Wood discovered the Temple of Artemis. More expansion followed to cope with influx of artifacts, including Sydney Smirke's Round Reading Room. A White Wing was added in 1914, and in 1939, a new gallery for the Parthenon sculptures was created by the American architect, John Russell Pope (but was damaged by bombing during World War II shortly afterwards). Following the war, the damaged museum was restored and in 2000 it gained its newest extension, the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, designed by Pritzker and Stirling Prize winning architect, Lord Norman Foster. The Museum is now looking forward to its next major building project, the £100 million World Conservation and Exhibition Centre which will concentrate all the Museum's conservation facilities (one of the oldest and largest conservation facilities in the world) into one center and provide new space for temporary exhibitions. This project, designed by Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners (including the Pritzker Laureate, Sir Richard Rogers) is expected to be completed by 2013. Originally, the British Museum also housed the natural history artifacts, until these gained their own, dedicated museum in Kensington in 1881. Until 1973, when it too became a separate institution, the British Museum was also home to the British Library, which can number Karl Marx, Lenin, Bram Stoker and Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle among the famous 19th century figures who took advantage of its impressive (and free) facilities. The famous former "reading room" is now the museum's centerpiece and hosts major exhibitions. Visit the museum's thorough website at: http://www.britishmuseum.org/
The Etruscans were the original inhabitants of much of Italy – before the Romans. They had a culture which was much more friendly to women (Rome was notoriously misogynistic), which produced brilliant art, which welcomed immigrants from Greece and Phoenicia, and which was highly literate (though we have only a few words of their language).The Romans destroyed the Etruscans. They stole bits of Etruscan culture but they destroyed Etruscan society. Etruscan artworks have their own room – Room 71. And here you can see some really lovely work from their civilisation – which lasted five hundred years and which, many Etruscans seem to have believed, would have a finite lifecycle just like a man, a tree, or a horse. Etruscans were fine metalworkers in both bronze and precious metals. Even the bronze helmet, which must have been primarily functional, has an incredibly crisp design and execution. More startling is the gold jewellery, which uses techniques like filigree and granulation to create shimmering surfaces – incredibly detailed work considering these metalworkers had no magnifying glasses to make their work easier.There are amazing bronze mirrors, too, with scenes from mythology incised on the back. Quite often, the Etruscans take Greek mythology as their subject – they had no qualms about borrowing stories from other pantheons and other peoples. Looking at the sheer number and beauty of these mirrors you just know that the Etruscans were a people who took their appearance very seriously.Incredibly, you can even see a piece of Etruscan painting, 2,500 years old. There are so many other things to see in the British Museum. Romans, Greeks, Ancient Egypt; Lindow Man and medieval clocks, Japanese prints and Assyrian gates. But don't miss the Etruscans. They're worth knowing – as is Seianti Hanunia Tlesnasa, a beautiful and interesting ancient woman from a little known ancient culture.
The original 1753 collection has now grown to over thirteen million objects. The Department of Prints and Drawings holds the national collection of Western Prints and Drawings. It ranks as one of the largest and best print room collections in existence alongside the Albertina in Vienna, the Paris collections and the Hermitage. The holdings are easily accessible to the general public in the Study Room, and the department also has its own exhibition gallery, where the displays and exhibitions change several times a year. There are approximately 50,000 drawings and over two million prints covering the period from the 14th century to the present, including many works of the highest quality by the leading artists of the European schools. There are magnificent groups of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, (including his only surviving full-scale cartoon), Dürer (the collection of 138 drawings is one of the finest in existence), Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, Claude Gellée and Jean-Antoine Watteau, and largely complete collections of the works of all the great printmakers including Dürer, Rembrandt and Goya. More than 30,000 British drawings and watercolours include important examples of work by William Hogarth, Paul Sandby, J. M. W. Turner, Thomas Girtin, John Constable, John Sell Cotman, David Cox, James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson and George Cruikshank. There are about a million British prints including more than 20,000 satires and outstanding collections of works by William Blake and Thomas Bewick. The Department of Asia contains over 75,000 objects covering the whole Asian continent and from the Neolithic up to the present day and includes the most comprehensive collection of sculpture from the Indian subcontinent in the world, including the celebrated Buddhist limestone reliefs from Amaravati, an outstanding collection of Chinese antiquities, paintings, and porcelain, lacquer, bronze, jade, and other applied arts, Buddhist paintings from Dunhuang and the Admonitions Scroll by Chinese artist Gu Kaizhi (344–406 AD) and the most comprehensive collection of Japanese pre-20th century art in the Western world, including a copy of The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai, stunning works by Hiroshige, Harunobu and others.
The British Museum houses one of the world's greatest and most comprehensive collections of Ethnographic material from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, representing the cultures of indigenous peoples throughout the world. The Sainsbury African Galleries display 600 objects from the greatest permanent collection of African arts and culture in the world. The three permanent galleries provide a substantial exhibition space for the Museum's African collection comprising over 200,000 objects, including both unique masterpieces of artistry and objects of everyday life. Highlights of the African collection include the Benin Bronzes, a magnificent brass head of a Yoruba ruler from Ife, Nigeria, Asante goldwork from Ghana and the Torday collection of Central African sculpture, textiles and weaponry. The Americas collection mainly consists of 19th and 20th century items although the Inca, Aztec, Maya and other early cultures are well represented. The Department of the Middle East has collections representing the civilizations of the ancient Near East and its adjacent areas. These include Mesopotamia, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, Anatolia, the Caucasus, parts of Central Asia, Syria, Palestine and Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean from the prehistoric period until the beginning of Islam in the 7th century. The collection includes six iconic winged human-headed statues from Nimrud and Khorsabad. Stone bas-reliefs, including the famous Royal Lion Hunt relief's that were found in the palaces of the Assyrian kings at Nimrud and Nineveh. The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh and Sumerian treasures found in Royal Cemetery's at Ur of the Chaldees. The museum's collection of Islamic art and archaeological material, numbers about 40,000 objects, one of the largest in the world. As such, it contains a broad range of Islamic pottery, paintings, tiles, metalwork, glass, seals, and inscriptions. The Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities of the British Museum has one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections of antiquities from the Classical world, with over 100,000 objects. These mostly range in date from the beginning of the Greek Bronze Age (about 3200BC) to the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine I in the 4th century AD. The Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean cultures are represented, and the Greek collection includes important sculpture from the Parthenon in Athens, as well as elements of two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos. The Department also houses one of the widest-ranging collections of Italic and Etruscan antiquities and extensive groups of material from Cyprus.
With such a vast collection and limited display space, many of the British Museum's temporary exhibitions focus on specific items or groups of items from their own collection, with possible additions on loan from other institutions. "The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead" (until 6 March 2011), focuses on the illustrated spells designed to guide the deceased through the dangers of the underworld, ultimately ensuring eternal life. Many of the examples of the Book of the Dead in the exhibition have never been seen before, and many are from the British Museum's unparalleled collection. In addition to the unique works on papyrus and linen, superbly crafted funerary figurines (shabtis), amulets, jewellery, statues and coffins illustrate the many stages of the journey from death to the afterlife. "Picasso to Julie Mehretu - Modern drawings from the British Museum collection" (until 25 April) showcases many of the great artists of the 20th century, starting with Picasso's study for his masterpiece "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon", the painting that shook the art world in 1907. It also features works by E L Kirchner, Otto Dix, Matisse, Magritte, David Smith and Louise Bourgeois and major contemporary artists, including Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter and William Kentridge. The exhibition concludes with Julie Mehretu, the Ethiopian-born artist who is one of the stars of the international contemporary art scene with acclaimed solo exhibitions at the Guggenheim in New York and across the world. "Images and sacred texts-Buddhism across Asia" (until 3 April 2011) includes sacred texts, painted scrolls and sculptures from Sri Lanka to Japan. "Adornment and identity-Jewelry and costume from Oman" and "Traditional jewelry and dress from the Balkans" (both until 11 September 2011) are unique displays jewelry, male and female dress and more. "Lasting impressions-Seals from the Islamic World" (until 23 February 2011) is a travelling photographic exhibition from the British Library and the British Museum. This small display explores how Islamic seals were made and used, what was written on them and how they were decorated. On display will be images of clay, metal and gemstone seals from the British Museum dating from the 9th to the 19th centuries, and seal impressions stamped on royal letters, documents and manuscript books held in the British Library. Later this year (from 26 May 2011 until 11 September 2011), the British Museum will feature "Out of Australia Prints and drawings from Sidney Nolan to Rover Thomas". The exhibition is the first exhibition of Australian works on paper of this scale and ambition to be held outside Australia. It features 125 works on paper by 60 artists, from the 1940s modernists to contemporary artists and Indigenous Australian printmakers, all drawn from the British Museum's impressive collection. Artists featured include, Albert Tucker and Arthur Boyd, James Gleeson, Robert Klippel, Brett Whiteley and Colin Lanceley.
Posted: 14 Nov 2011 06:50 PM PST
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