- The Stanley Spencer Gallery Shows Spencer's World War II Clyde Shipbuilding Paintings
- Steven Holl Architects presents a new book ~ Horizontal Skyscraper
- The Fondation Cartier in Paris Shows "Mathematics: A Beautiful Elsewhere"
- The Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen Features a Retrospective of Antoni Tàpies
- Hanukkah Lamps selected by Maurice Sendak at The Jewish Museum in NYC
- Artist named for $1Million Sculpture Commission for GoMA 5th birthday
- Pablo Picasso 1936: Traces of an Exhibition at Museu Picasso in Barcelona
- The Tyler Museum to Show "Reflections on Water in American Painting"
- ¡Cuba! A Voyage through This Island's Art ~ A Retrospective at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
- "Jan Gossaert's Renaissance" Exhibited at the National Gallery in London
- Best Works by Sarah Morris on View at Gallery Meyer Kainer
- Large Selection of Old Master, American & European Prints at Swann Galleries
- The World's Most Expensive Painting - Pablo Picasso's "Green Leaves, Nude and Bust" At Tate Modern
- Pinakothek der Moderne hosts 'Passionately Provocative' ~ The Stoffel Collection
- National Gallery of Art hosts Desiderio da Settignano
- Thomas Bewick's Anarchic World at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery
- MOCA Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts Honors Artist Jenny Holzer
- Groninger Museum retrospective of Works by Artist John William Waterhouse
- Richard L. Feigen Collection Hosted by The Yale University Art Gallery
- This Week in Review in Art Knowledge News
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 09:10 PM PST
Cookham, Berkshire, UK - The Stanley Spencer Gallery is proud to present "Spencer's War: The Art of Shipbuilding on the Clyde" on view at the gallery until January 15th 2012. The exhibition includes six oil paintings from the famous Shipbuilding on the Clyde series, commissioned by the War Artists' Advisory Committee, and 39 drawings which give insights into Spencer's working methods. The majority of works in the exhibition are on loan from the Imperial War Museum, London. The exceptions are the two works lent by Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, and four drawings in the Stanley Spencer Gallery, either in the collection or on long-term loan. Spencer's Shipbuilding on the Clyde series is one of the most remarkable artistic records of the Second World War. He achieved a rare feat by producing some of the most original masterpieces by any artist in response to the two great conflicts of the twentieth century. He was an Official War Artist in both World Wars, producing Travoys, 1919, and Shipbuilding on the Clyde, 1940-46.
His great cycle of wall paintings in the Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere (now National Trust) commemorate his experiences in the RAMC and infantry during the First World War. In 1939, Spencer urged his dealer Dudley Tooth to find him 'a war job, some sort of official art employment'. The art market was slack and as Tooth noted Spencer was 'terribly in debt all round'. On Tooth's writing to Sir Kenneth Clark, Director of the National Gallery, and Chairman of the War Artists' Advisory Committee (WAAC) under the Ministry of Information, Spencer was interviewed and appointed. His initial suggestion of a Crucifixion with predella panels to show the Nazi conquest of Poland was rejected, since eye-witness records were required. Instead, he agreed to the proposal he should depict a shipyard, paying his first visit to the suggested 'Kingston' yard, owned by Sir James Lithgow, at Port Glasgow on the river Clyde in May 1940. He responded to the place with enthusiasm. The strong sense of community reminded him of Cookham: 'many of the places in and corners of Lithgow's factory moved me in much the same way as I was by rooms in my childhood.' This link must have been a significant factor in contributing to his keen interest in the commission.
Spencer's greatest works were in part inspired by specific places. His intense emotional response to Cookham, and the areas in which he served in the two world wars at a time of generally heightened feeling, released some of his most notable bursts of sustained creativity. Indeed in Port Glasgow he went beyond his official commission to conceive his Port Glasgow Resurrection series. After Burghclere, Spencer delighted in devising large schemes of pictures, and as so often, his ideas continuously evolved. His final plan for the Shipbuilding series was for four pictures to be hung in pairs, Riggers above Riveters, and Plumbers above Bending the Keel Plate, with the final picture, Furnaces, in the centre. The earlier works, Burners and Welders, were to hang either side, with The Template, the only predella panel of a projected series, under Burners. He did not live in Port Glasgow for the six years he spent on the series, but visited on a number of occasions, staying in several sets of lodgings. The pictures were painted not only in Scotland, but also in Leonard Stanley, Cookham and Epsom. Lithgow's had been selected to construct 'Y' class merchant ships during the war, to replace the losses presciently expected from German submarine warfare. Ships were vital to bring in food and raw materials. Based at first on pre-war tramp steamers, the 'Y' class ships, however, had increased ballast to cope with the rough weather of the North Atlantic, and became increasingly complex and standardised as the war proceeded. One of them, the Empire Liberty, was the forerunner of the American liberty ships that brought cargoes to Britain on the transatlantic convoys.
Spencer depicted all the major trades involved in the building of the ships, including developments in technology, such as the use of welding, which gradually superseded riveting as a method of joining steel plates. The various processes are shown with clarity, though they had to be closely compressed within individual pictures. This type of heavy industry no longer dominates Clydeside: in 1984 Lithgow's was sold to Trafalgar House, which ceased trading in 1993. The cohesion and communal sense of purpose of the workforce is movingly conveyed. In the Shipbuilding series, as at Burghclere, Spencer chose to concentrate on everyday activity, rather than grand set piece events, such as the launch of ships. Only three foremen appear in the Shipbuilding pictures (in Riveters), just as there had been only one officer at Burghclere. Spencer himself appears in Burners and Welders. The distinctive long narrow horizontal format of seven of the pictures is admirably suited to Spencer's style, with its emphasis on the necessarily complex and unusual poses of the workers as they bend to their tasks. Seen in a confined space from a high viewpoint, some of the scenes are suffused with heat, noise and the dramatic glare of light on metal. Spencer revelled in the intricate shapes of tools and metal plates, and the formal qualities of ships' parts not yet assembled. He was a master of inventive composition on a large scale. Drawings were an integral part of his design process. As always, he drew continually, squaring up some of the drawings for transfer to canvas.
He did not use photographs as an aide-memoire, with the result that we have a remarkable body of work in pencil on paper, which provides an insight into the mind of one of the twentieth century's great draughtsmen. The WAAC was delighted with the success of the series which was exhibited widely to boost national morale. Restored and reframed for the Imperial War Museum by Phil Young and Roy Perry MBE, 2006-2010, the pictures rank amongst Spencer's major achievements. They fully engaged his creative imagination: 'The point is that whatever may be thought of these shipbuilding pictures of mine, I am much moved by what I see up here and experience joy in attempting to express the feeling I have about it all…'
The Stanley Spencer Gallery was first opened in 1962, three years after the artist's death. It stands as a lasting memorial to the man who became synonymous with the village of Cookham. He loved his home; it gave him the strength and comfort he needed to be able to allow his imagination to soar and to fully exploit his genius talent for drawing and painting. Opened by Spencer's friends and supporters it is still totally run by volunteers and has a wonderful collection of more than 100 of his paintings and drawings. In 2007 the Gallery was awarded a large grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund which enabled the former Methodist chapel to be transformed into a stunning exhibition space. Two exhibitions are held each year. The Summer Exhibition sees the Gallery's own collection augmented with loans from other galleries and private owners. There is also a fine archive of photographs, books and other written material. The Gallery welcomes both the casual browser and the serious student equally. The Gallery holds a fascinating collection of material relating to Spencer's life and works which is available for viewing on the mezzanine level of the refurbished Gallery. There is a large library of books written about Stanley Spencer, a series of files of press cuttings and articles written during and since the artist's lifetime, copies of student theses and essays on many aspects of his art. There are written memories by those who knew the man himself and copies of his own letters and jottings. Of great interest to Spencer scholars will be the photographs and transcripts of letters written by Spencer to his friend Desmond Chute during the First World War. There is also much information about the Gallery itself, including copies of all the catalogues of exhibitions held since it was opened in 1962. In the future more archive material will be accessible through the computer terminals in the Gallery. For the time being albums of photographs of Stanley Spencer are available to view by appointment and CDs of Cookham residents recalling the artist working in the village can be borrowed (also by appointment). Visit the museum's website at ... http://www.stanleyspencer.org.uk/
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 09:09 PM PST
NEW YORK, NY.- Steven Holl Architects and William Stout Architectural Books are pleased to announce the release of a new book, Horizontal Skyscraper. Richly illustrated with photographs, drawings, and watercolors, the book documents the design and construction of the Horizontal Skyscraper – Vanke Center, which opened in Shenzhen, China in 2009. Horizontal Skyscraper includes texts by Steven Holl, Lebbeus Woods, Yehuda Safran, and Li Hu. William Stout Books will host a book signing event for Steven Holl on December 20th from 5pm to 7pm at 804 Montgomery Street in San Francisco. The Horizontal Skyscraper is an innovative example of a large-scale, hybrid use building, which combines living working, cultural and commercial programs while also creating a large public tropical garden.
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 08:18 PM PST
Paris.- "Mathematics: A Beautiful Elsewhere" is a unique exhibition created by the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain with the aim of offering visitors, to use the mathematician Alexandre Grothendieck's expression, "a sudden change of scenery." The Fondation Cartier has opened its doors to the community of mathematicians and invited a number of artists to accompany them. They are the artisans and thinkers, the explorers and builders of this exhibition. "A Beuatiful Elsewhere" is on view at the foundation through March 18th 2012. A large number of mathematicians and scientists contributed to the creation of this exhibition, and eight of them acted as its overseers: Sir Michael Atiyah, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, Alain Connes, Nicole El Karoui, Misha Gromov, Giancarlo Lucchini, Cedric Villani and Don Zagier. Representing a wide range of geographical backgrounds and mathematical disciplines, they work in areas such as number theory, algebraic geometry, differential geometry, topology, partial differential equations, probability, mathematics applied to biology.
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 07:48 PM PST
Siegen, Germany.- The Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen (The Siegen Museum of Contemporary Art) is prouud to present "Antoni Tàpies: Image, Body, Pathos" on view at the museum through Feburary 19th 2012. This retrospective exhibition shows the impressive creative oeuvre of Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies. 47 paintings covering more than seven decades are being presented for the first time in Germany. Antoni Tàpies was born in Barcelona in 1923. Alongside Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Eduardo Chillida and Pablo Picasso, he is one of the great Spanish artist personalities, who had a decisive influence on European painting in the second half of the 20th century. The early presentation of the 4th Rubens Prize to Tàpies by the city of Siegen in 1972 was more than justified. The exhibition "Image, Body, Pathos" permits the visitor to take an up-to-date view of the artist's astounding, lifelong productivity.
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 07:03 PM PST
NEW YORK, N.Y.- The Jewish Museum presents An Artist Remembers: Hanukkah Lamps Selected by Maurice Sendak from December 2, 2011 through January 29, 2012. This exhibition features thirty-three Hanukkah lamps of varied eras and styles, chosen by renowned author and illustrator Maurice Sendak from The Jewish Museum's extensive collection. This highly personal selection of lamps, many never before exhibited, echoes the quality of line and depth of emotion that define Sendak's work. Hanukkah begins at sundown on Tuesday, December 20 and continues until sundown on Wednesday, December 28, 2011. More information about Hanukkah at The Jewish Museum may be obtained by visiting the Museum's web site at www.TheJewishMuseum.org/Hanukkah2011.
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 07:02 PM PST
BRISBANE.- Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has kicked off 5th birthday celebrations for the Gallery of Modern Art by announcing the winner of a $1 million sculpture commission and unveiling a model of the new art work. The Premier also marked the occasion by opening the children's exhibition 'we miss you magic land,' by Perth artists Pip and Pop. "It's hard to believe that it's been five years since GoMA opened its doors here in Brisbane," Ms Bligh said. "Since then more than 3.8 million people have come to the gallery to see works by some of the world's most influential artists, like Andy Warhol, Valentino and Picasso, as well as Australian and Queensland artists. "GoMA really has helped to transform the cultural landscape of Queensland and set a new standard for contemporary art museums in Australia."
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:34 PM PST
BARCELONA.- Within the lines of actuation resulting from the creation of its new Knowledge and Research Centre, the Museu Picasso presents the exhibition Picasso 1936. Traces of an Exhibition. The basis of the show is the acquisition by the Museum during 2009 and 2010 of a fonds of original documents relating to the organization of the Picasso Exhibition at the Sala Esteva in Barcelona in January 1936. This fonds was in the possession of Claudio Hoyos, grandson of one of the gallery owners. The present exhibition is the result of research and interpretation of this documentary fonds, which, although partial, contains information crucial to understanding Picasso's relationship with Barcelona and, by extension, Spain.
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:33 PM PST
Tyler, Texas.- The Tyler Museum of Art is proud to present "Reflections on Water in American Painting", on view at the museum from December 9th through March 4th 2012. The exhibition combines 50 paintings from the Arthur J. Phelan Collection that together tell a unique history of the country's maritime growth from the grand sailing ships of the U.S. Navy and the river boats of Mark Twain's Mississippi River to the more contemporary pleasure of leisure time spent by the sea. Ranging in date from 1828 to 1945, the exhibition opens with the earliest form of American maritime painting with a selection of grand, academic-style portraits of graceful sailing ships. The exhibition progresses forward in time with waterscapes from the sea to the lakes and rivers of the American heartland, light-flooded impressionist visions of quaint New England seaside towns, and modernist renderings of industrial waterfronts and everyday life on the water.
The underlying theme of the exhibition reflects changes in American attitudes towards our most important resource from the endless supply of water and land the first settlers found and the dominant role ships played in fostering growth and trade, to the popularity of second homes and beaches and the change in port facilities from picturesque to industrial in the 20th century. "Reflections on Water in American Painting" is drawn from the collections of Arthur J. Phelan, well-known for his paintings depicting life in the American West. Phelan began collecting nautical paintings in the 1960s. Highlights of his collection and the exhibition include James Bard's meticulously drawn Hudson River steamboat, Frank Benson's marshland with more than 30 rising ducks, William Trost Richards' breaking waves, William Merritt Chase's intense study of the Arno River, and Reginald Marsh's cathedral-like rendering of a New Jersey railway bridge. "I have built a number of collections that started with a chance acquisition of an artwork that reminded me of something in my past," says Phelan.
"This group of maritime and coastal scenes arises from time spent at my family's summer home in Connecticut. Our house, between New London and the Connecticut River, was on the water. During World War II, I sailed small sloops at the point where Long Island Sound empties into the Atlantic and where large commercial sailing ships occasionally still passed by. Later, while at Yale [B.A. and M.A. in American history], I was never far from the Sound."
In April 1952, the Tyler Service League formed the first Community Arts Committee. Because there was not an art museum within one hundred miles of Tyler, they knew there were many children who had no opportunity to see and experience works of art. "Picture Ladies" from the Tyler Service League took prints to 5th and 6th grade classrooms, rotating the prints once each week. This program continued and in 1960 they purchased the property known as the Jamie T. Smith home and established an art center there. They remodeled the house, designating space for traveling exhibitions and a children's arts and crafts program. In 1965, the League sold this property and set aside funds with the goal of establishing an art museum for Tyler. The Tyler Service League became the Junior League of Tyler, and through its efforts the Tyler Museum of Art was opened in 1971. It is a non-profit organization governed by a Board of Trustees. The mission of the Tyler Museum of Art is to exist as an educational and cultural center to enrich the lives of East Texas citizens and visitors through the collection, preservation, study, exhibition, interpretation, and celebration of the visual arts. The Museum is housed today in an award-winning structure nestled on a tree-shaded site, adjacent to the campus of Tyler Junior College. The building contains two major exhibition galleries on the ground floor, the North Gallery and the Bell Gallery. There is also a library, classroom, café, and gift shop.
The Tyler Museum of Art's growing permanent collection features over 1200 works including paintings, prints, photographs, and sculpture by artists such as James Surls, Vernon Fisher, Alexander Calder, Terry Allen, and Charles Umlauf. From its inception, the Museum concentrated on exhibitions of 19th and 20th century art and gained recognition for its particular emphasis on the work of emerging contemporary artists from Texas and surrounding states. For the past few years, exhibitions have included a greater variety of styles as the Museum has endeavored to more fully represent the diversity and interests of the community. Recent exhibitions have ranged from 18th and 19th century British teapots from the Norwich Castle Museum in England to 16th and 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings. Other exhibits have featured Edward Hopper, Jun Kaneko, and Norman Rockwell, as well as a comprehensive retrospective of the work of the late Louisiana artist Clyde Connell. Visit the museum's website at ... http://www.tylermuseum.org
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:30 PM PST
Montreal, Que., Canada - Organized and presented by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from January 31 to June 8, 2008, ¡Cuba! Art and History from 1868 to Today, which brings together some 400 works of art, is the most important exhibition ever presented to showcase the art of this Caribbean island, which Christopher Columbus described as "the most beautiful land eyes have ever seen." Thanks to the collaboration of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Fototeca de Cuba, and of many collectors and museums in the United States, including the MoMA, this exhibition draws a broad panorama of Cuban art and history.This lively and well-conceived multidisciplinary exhibition brings together about one hundred paintings, including a huge collective mural produced in 1967 by many artists, two hundred photographs and documents, approximately one hundred works on paper (in particular two collections of pre- and post-1959-Revolution posters), installations and videos, in addition to music and film excerpts.
This ambitious exhibition features the art of Cuba, an island that has witnessed the twentieth-century's principal historical events (decolonization, the search for a national identity, wars of independence and the Revolution, the building of political utopias and ideological clashes). Located at the crossroads of Old Europe and the New World, Cuba is a rich cultural terrain: its music and literature are well known outside of the country, but the same cannot be said of its visual arts.
The exhibition is divided into five sections: Depicting Cuba: Finding Ways to Express a Nation (1868-1927); Arte Nuevo: The Avant-garde and the Re-creation of Identity (1927-1938); Cubanness: Affirming a Cuban Style (1938-1959); Within the Revolution, Everything, Against the Revolution, Nothing (1959-1979); The Revolution and Me: The Individual Within History (1980-2007).
The exhibition's historical narrative is told through a selection of significant photographs: from those that have never been shown to the iconic, these pictures illustrate the chronology of events as recorded by remarkable photographers. Within this account are images illustrating the major chapters in the history of Cuban art, from the nineteenth-century's wars of independence through to the uncertainties of the future. Throughout the twentieth century, artists engaged in international discourses sought to define a national identity, Cubanidad. Intermingling a re-examination of its colonialist past and openness to the avant-garde, Cuban artists created a profoundly original art of synthesis (Baroque and academic legacies, Spanish and African roots, Catholic and traditional spirituality). Central to the century and the exhibition, with the presentation of twenty paintings, the landmark work of Wifredo Lam embodies this synthesis.
At times a vehicle for collective political action and at times a personal expression vis-à-vis history, Cuban art deals with matters pertaining to a sense of place and the role of the artist in society, issues that outstanding contemporary artists continue to explore in relevant ways.
The exhibition is organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) in collaboration with the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (MNBA) and the Fototeca de Cuba, Havana. Nathalie Bondil, director of the MMFA, is the general curator of the exhibition, in collaboration with Moraima Clavijo Colom, director of the MNBA, and Lourdes Socarrás, director of the Fototeca de Cuba. The curatorial committee also includes Hortensia Montero Méndez, curator of Cuban art, MNBA; Luz Merino Acosta, technical director, MNBA; Rufino del Valle Valdés , curator, Fototeca de Cuba; Iliana Cepero Amador, independant curator; Stéphane Aquin, curator of contemporary art, MMFA; and the team of curators of the MNBA. The exhibition design is by Daniel Castonguay, in association with David Gour.
Under the general editorship of Nathalie Bondil, a 424-page catalogue has been produced by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' Publishing Department. This book, which includes some 450 illustrations, is the first publication covering the whole history of Cuban art. It provides essays by Cuban and international specialists on various aspects of the subject and some 140 biographical notes. It is published in separate French, English and Spanish editions.
Visit The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts at : www.mbam.qc.ca
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:29 PM PST
London.- Jan Gossaert, a native of Flanders (active 1503; died 1532), was one of the most startling and accomplished artists of the Northern Renaissance. 'Jan Gossaert's Renaissance' is the first exhibition dedicated to the artist for over 40 years, and is on show at the NG London until 30th May 2011. The exhibition presents the results of a complete re-examination of his work, including new technical discoveries. Working for wealthy and extravagant members of the Burgundian court in the Low Countries in the first three decades of the 16th century, Gossaert was especially noted for his sensuous nudes painted to evoke the sheen of marble and his stunning illusionistic portraits in which he plays intriguing spatial games. The first northern artist to draw directly from antiquity in Italy (during a visit to Rome in 1508–9), Gossaert was a peerless exponent of the illusionistic properties of oil paint as practised by his countrymen from Jan van Eyck onwards.
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:28 PM PST
VIENNA.- Gallery Meyer Kainer presents "It's All True" an exhibition of new works by Sarah Morris, labeled after an unfinished documentary film by Orson Welles. Sarah Morris is an internationally recognized painter and filmmaker, known for her complex abstractions, which play with architecture and the psychology of urban environments. Morris views her paintings as parallel to her films - both trace urban, social and bureaucratic topologies. In both these media, she explores the psychology of the contemporary city and its architecturally encoded politics. On view through 30 April, 2020.
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:27 PM PST
NEW YORK, NY.- On Tuesday, April 27, Swann Galleries will offer a large selection of Old Master Through Modern Prints at auction, beginning with nearly 150 desirable Old Master Prints, followed by sections devoted to 19th-century prints, American prints, and European prints. Of special note among the Old Masters are works by Albrecht Dürer, including "The Prodigal Son", engraving, circa 1496 (estimate $15,000 to $20,000); "The Four Horsemen", woodcut from "The Apocalypse", 1498, in unusually good condition ($20,000 to $30,000); and "Virgin and Child Seated by the Wall", engraving, 1514 ($15,000 to $20,000).
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:26 PM PST
London (BBC).- The world's most expensive painting ever sold at auction is going on public show in the UK for the first time. "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" was painted by Pablo Picasso in 1932 and based on his muse, Marie-Therese Walter. The painting became the most expensive in the world when it was auctioned in New York by Christies in 2010, selling for for $106.5m (£65.5m). As of Monday 7 March 2011, it can be seen on display at the Tate Modern in London. Tate director Nicholas Serota: "This is an outstanding painting by Picasso. I am delighted that through the generosity of the lender we are able to bring it to the British public for the first time."
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:25 PM PST
Munich, Germany - Passionately provocative major works of contemporary art were collected by the Stoffels from the 1970's onwards. 'Passionately Provocative': the Modern Art Collection at the Pinakothek der Moderne is now showing a large part of this splendid collection for the very first time with some 120 works exhibited over more than 1,200 m. On exhibition 20 November through 1 March, 2009.
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:24 PM PST
Washington, DC – The first international exhibition devoted to Italian Renaissance sculptor Desiderio da Settignano (c. 1429–1464) comes to the National Gallery of Art—its only U.S. venue. Desiderio da Settignano: Sculptor of Renaissance Florence brings together approximately 28 works—many coming to the U.S. for the first time—by the artist and his immediate circle, ranging from highly original portrait busts of children to subtle low-relief carvings of religious subjects. On exhibition through 8 October, 2007. The exhibition was organized by the Musée du Louvre, Paris. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
"Visitors to the National Gallery of Art will be able to deepen their appreciation of Desiderio's exceptional virtuosity as a sculptor and of the poetry of his innovations thanks to this collaboration with the Musée du Louvre and the Museo Nazionale del Bargello," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. "Owing to the generosity of the lending institutions worldwide and the first publication of an English-language book on this artist, we are confident that Desiderio will receive the widespread esteem that he deserves."
Regarded as one of the greatest sculptors of the Renaissance, Desiderio inspired contemporaries to declare that he brought cold marble to life. He was born in the quarry town of Settignano, where his father and brother were stone cutters. Trained in Florence in the mid-15th century, Desiderio was strongly influenced and possibly taught by Donatello. Desiderio mastered expression and low-relief carving so completely that throughout the years, his portrait busts and marble reliefs were often misattributed to Donatello.
Donatello's departure from Florence to work in Padua from 1443 to 1453 permitted a new generation of Florentine sculptors to develop their own ideas. In the short period before his death in 1464, Desiderio was one of the leading artists in the city, creating a delicate and sensitive style that conveyed the vitality of his subjects, whether they were small children, graceful young girls, or careworn old men.
Desiderio was rediscovered by scholars and collectors in the second half of the 19th century, during the great revival of interest in Florentine sculpture of the early Renaissance. The great sculpture collections formed during this time and in the early 20th century competed for the very few genuine works by Desiderio that entered the art market. The National Gallery of Art acquired three of his greatest works, one from each of three founding donors: A Little Boy (c. 1455–1460) from Andrew Mellon in 1937; Saint Jerome in the Desert (c. 1460–1464) from the Widener Collection in 1942; and The Christ Child (?) (c. 1460–1464) from the Samuel H. Kress Collection in 1943.
Situated in the West Building's intimate Italian Renaissance galleries, the exhibition will display the different genres for which Desiderio is best known: tender busts of children, extraordinary low reliefs including groups of the Virgin and Child, and delicate portraits of women.
The exceptional skill with which Desiderio rendered expression is evident in his busts of children, as seen in the gentle eyes and jovial smile of Laughing Boy (c. 1460–1464) and the tender companionship in Christ and Saint John the Baptist as Children (The Arconati Visconti Tondo) (c. 1455–1457). The wisdom and confidence depicted in the marble bas-relief Julius Caesar (c. 1460) and the brightly colored yet dignified bust Saint Constance ("La Belle Florentine") (third quarter of the 15th century), carved in wood by a close follower of Desiderio, further exemplify the range of emotion explored by the sculptor and his circle.
Two masterpieces by Desiderio are not included in the exhibition—the tomb of the Florentine chancellor Carlo Marsuppini in Santa Croce (completed 1459) and the Sacrament tabernacle in the Medici church of San Lorenzo (completed 1461)—because they cannot leave the Florentine churches for which they were made. They are, however, illustrated and discussed extensively in the exhibition catalogue.
Curators, Catalogue, and Related Activities
The curators for Desiderio da Settignano, an exhibition initiated several years ago by Jean-René Gaborit, Musée du Louvre, include Marc Bormand, senior curator, department of sculpture, Musée du Louvre; Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi, director, Museo Nazionale del Bargello; and Nicholas Penny, senior curator, sculpture and decorative arts, and Alison Luchs, curator of early European sculpture, both from the National Gallery of Art.
The exhibition catalogue Desiderio da Settignano: Sculptor of Renaissance Florence, the first book on Desiderio since 1962 and the first ever published in English. The English edition of the catalogue is produced by 5 Continents Press and is edited by Bormand, Strozzi, and Penny. It includes illustrated essays by the editors, as well as Gaborit; Giancarlo Gentilini, University of Perugia; Francesco Caglioti, University of Naples; and Andrea Baldinotti and Tommaso Mozzati, both of the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. The 288-page publication with 200 color illustrations is available from the National Gallery of Art.
The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden, located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets and Constitution Avenue NW are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. For information call (202) 737-4215 or the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) at (202) 842-6176, or visit the Gallery's Web site at www.nga.gov.
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:23 PM PST
LANCASHIRE, UK - Experience an anarchic world in miniature, revealed through the delicate, painstaking skill of Thomas Bewick (1753–1828). Tale-pieces is an exhibition devoted entirely to the vignettes of the extraordinary artist-engraver and naturalist, Thomas Bewick. Born at Cherryburn in Northumberland, Bewick spent his childhood on a small farm on the banks of the River Tyne. His surroundings instilled in him a life-long love of the countryside, rural life, and the natural world, that was to profoundly influence his work.
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:22 PM PST
LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Museum of Contemporary Art , Los Angeles (MOCA), is pleased to announce artist Jenny Holzer as the recipient of the 6th MOCA Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts. Holzer will be honored for her extraordinary talent and contributions to the arts during an exclusive award luncheon on Wednesday, April 28, 2010, at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. Hosted by one of the museum's major support organizations, The MOCA Projects Council, this fundraiser benefits MOCA's award-winning educational programming. Edythe Broad will present the award to Holzer and remarks will be made by MOCA Projects Council President Pamela J. Smith. The 6th MOCA Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts Luncheon is presented by BVLGARI.
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:21 PM PST
GRONINGER, NL - The Groninger Museum presents the largest-ever retrospective of works by the world-famous British artist John William Waterhouse (1849-1917). Many splendid paintings and drawings have been borrowed from locations as far afield as Australia, England, Ireland, Taiwan and Canada. The exhibition has been organized in conjunction with the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada. On exhibition through 3 May, 2009.
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:20 PM PST
NEW HAVEN, CT - A dozen years ago the art dealer Richard L. Feigen attended an auction of European paintings at Sotheby's in London and found a picture he liked: a richly colored scene of a religious vision, with a hovering saint and four angels, all topped by shimmering gold halos, that was attributed to a minor Italian painter. "It seemed like it was from the third decade of the 15th century," said Mr. Feigen, 79, who has been collecting art since he was a teenager. "But the perspective and the way some of the spaces were rendered seemed very far out for that moment." He picked it up for about $20,000 and a year later asked Laurence Kanter, an expert in early Italian painting and at the time a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for his opinion of the work. Examining a photograph of the painting, Mr. Kanter immediately felt the rush of discovery.
"The way the four feet of the scene's candelabra sit perfectly, completely, convincingly on the floor, so you can see exactly how the floor recedes — only one artist ever painted like that, and that was Fra Angelico."
More than that, Mr. Kanter soon realized — after a sleepless night and what he called "a eureka moment, like Archimedes in the bathtub" — that if the four corners of the work, which were hidden in its framed state, turned out to be gold leaf, it could be an Angelico from a famous five-part predella, the other four panels of which resided in institutions.
Bingo. Mr. Feigen had bought Angelico's "Vision of St. Lucy," from 1427 to 1429, a work that could conceivably fetch north of $5 million at auction today.
"St. Lucy" is now on view with some 60 pieces from Mr. Feigen's personal collection of Italian paintings here at theYale University Art Gallery, where Mr. Kanter is now a curator, through Sept. 12.
The exhibition features works from the early 14th century to the 17th, including three panel paintings that Mr. Kanter has attributed to the supremely scarce early Florentine master Andrea di Cione, known as Orcagna, whom he called "the rarest fish in the sea."
Such an exhibition could be seen as merely a victory lap for Mr. Feigen, who has been at the top of the art trade for decades, selling million-dollar pictures to the biggest museums and the richest collectors — and pocketing enough in the process to buy some choice pieces for himself.
But he and Mr. Kanter, who organized the exhibition, have something loftier in mind. The show is part of a campaign to bring old-fashioned connoisseurship back into the academy, which they consider to be a thicket overgrown with abstruse theories.
"Art history has been hijacked by other disciplines," said Mr. Kanter, who teaches a connoisseurship seminar to Yale graduate students. "Original works of art have been forgotten. They're being used as data, without any sense of whether they're good, bad or indifferent."
He added: "No one wants to turn art history back 150 years. But we're lacking an important tool that we threw out the window 70 years ago."
The outspoken Mr. Feigen, who graduated from Yale in 1952, went further. "There isn't a single art history department in the world that I consider first-class," he said, as he toured the exhibition earlier this year. "I'm hoping Yale will develop a focus on objects instead of theories."
The idea is a simple one: If Mr. Feigen can spot Fra Angelico-level quality by closely looking at art with his well-trained eye, perhaps students too one day can learn to tell gold from dross. Mr. Kanter and Mr. Feigen do have allies in their cause, though it is a small club, many of whose members are white, male and over 40.
"It's not uncommon to encounter bright students who are able to express the most abstract ideas with ease and who, when faced with actual works of art, are tongue-tied," said Keith Christiansen, a curator of European paintings at the Met and Mr. Kanter's former colleague there. "Connoisseurship needs to form an alliance with the very academic approach. They inform each other."
Robert Storr, the dean of the Yale School of Art, said he was also sympathetic to that perspective. As a former Museum of Modern Art curator, Mr. Storr has written many a monograph and knows his way around the theories of Jacques Lacan. But he is also a painter who laments that many students learn art only from reproductions.
"Telling a fake from the real thing is one of the most important things to learn," Mr. Storr said. "At the recent Caravaggio show in Rome I could see that three paintings were dramatically retouched — areas way too clumsy to be his work. If you go there to bask in the glory of Caravaggio and don't realize you're also basking in the glow of Joe Schmo, you need to learn connoisseurship."
But Mr. Storr said that he will go only so far with the discernment brigade. "There's a conservative side to all this that I don't subscribe to," he said. "It takes us back to Clement Greenberg and the idea that some people have an eye that trumps all other."
For his part Mr. Feigen remains resolute and cheerful about his unfashionable stance. "I take an elitist attitude," he said. "I don't ask people what they want to see. I tell them what they ought to want to see." Usually his pictures reside in the temperature- and humidity-controlled dining room of his Upper East Side home, where they are stacked high and crowded in the manner of an old-fashioned salon.
The paintings have more space to be appreciated on Yale's walls, and Mr. Feigen and Mr. Kanter are particularly eager to train the eyes of visitors with a comparison of two works that are displayed side by side, both from the 14th-century Florentine studio of Bernardo Daddi: Daddi's "St. John the Evangelist," from about 1337, and "St. Benedict" of the same period, which Mr. Kanter has attributed to Orcagna, who briefly worked in Daddi's studio.
"It's a lesson in hard looking," Mr. Kanter said. "Once you can tell these pictures are by different painters, even thought they are a pair, it opens you up to so many different things." Both saints have a beatific aura, but Benedict's beard, robes and book are more subtly, realistically rendered.
Mr. Feigen said that after they were restored, he was able to appreciate fully St. Benedict's sculptural qualities. "Look how his arm curls and the drapery folds," Mr. Feigen said. "The beard rakes into the light. This is almost as sophisticated as 20th-century painting."
Although few students are present over the summer to pore over the differences between these works, the exhibition does overlap into the start of Yale's academic year, which starts Sept. 1.
Mr. Kanter will bring his students to the show; he added that there was interest from his colleagues as well. "I've had three professors complain that it should have been scheduled as a fall exhibition, so that they could design a class around it," he said.
Maybe it's not evidence of a seismic shift toward connoisseurship, but Mr. Kanter is taking his cues from the depictions of religious signs on the walls. "We live in hope," he said.
The Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St. (at York), is open to the public free of charge Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday until 8 p.m. (through June); and Sunday 1-6 p.m. It is closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is free. To see all of the collection visit : http://opa.yale.edu/news/article.aspx?id=7576
Written by : Ted Loos for The New York Times (c)
Posted: 04 Dec 2011 06:19 PM PST
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