Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Museum Exhibitions Winter 2017

1. PARIS.- As part of its season devoted to the Dutch Golden Age, the Musée du Louvre is presenting a selection of masterpieces by 17th-century Dutch painters from the collection of Thomas Kaplan and his wife, Daphne Recanati Kaplan. This selection, brought together at a major international museum for the first time, showcases the largest private collection of works by Rembrandt. Visitors will discover some thirty paintings and drawings by the greatest painters of the Golden Age from the region of Leiden in the Netherlands, primarily ten works by Rembrandt and a painting recently attributed to the artist.

Among the Leiden Collection’s Rembrandt paintings is the Minerva, a particularly spectacular large-format work, part of a series of strong women and mythological goddesses. As its name indicates, this collection highlights the “fine painters” of Leiden, among them Gerrit Dou and Frans van Mieris. It also includes a number of Rembrandts—currently the largest private holding of his work—and numerous “Rembrandtesques.” Thus the collection is made up of excellent pictures by the greatest artists—Jan Steen, Rembrandt, and Jan Lievensz, and their master Lastman, Frans van Mieris, Gerrit Dou, and others—and covers the various specialties of Dutch art.

The thematic presentation shows how a single painter can practice different genres. It also reminds us that Dutch painting, often seen as simultaneously ribald, colorful, charming, and bourgeois, draws on a mixed repertoire and makes use of all the modes from the satirical to the solemn

On the occasion of this exhibition, the large-format painting Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well is to be officially gifted to the Musée du Louvre by Thomas Kaplan and Daphne Recanati Kaplan. The work was painted by Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680), one of Rembrandt’s most talented pupils. Acquired by the Kaplans in 2009, the work has been on loan to the Louvre’s Dutch galleries since 2010.

After Masterpieces from the Leiden Collection. The Age of Rembrandt has been shown at the Louvre, an expanded group of approximately 60 highlights will travel to The Long Museum in Shanghai and the National Museum in Beijing in 2017 and 2018 and to the Louvre Abu Dhabi before returning to Europe and the Americas.

Organized by: Blaise Ducos, curator at the Department of Paintings of the Musée du Louvre, the Leiden Collection, assembled since 2003 by the American philanthropist and Francophile Thomas Kaplan (Chevalier of the Legion of Honor) and his wife, Daphne Recanati Kaplan, contains some 250 paintings and drawings by Rembrandt and several generations of his pupils among the Leiden fijnschilders. Since its inception, the Leiden Collection has loaned works on more than 170 occasions. A further illustration of the collectors’ generosity, A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal by Johannes Vermeer and Woman Feeding a Parrot by Frans van Mieris the Elder will also be shown at this exhibition focusing on Vermeer and the masters of genre painting.


2. LONDON.- Visitors to the National Gallery have a unique opportunity to admire what is widely regarded as Guido Cagnacci’s greatest work, The Repentant Magdalene, an exceptional loan from the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena (California).

Guido Cagnacci (1601–1663) is one of the most unconventional and sensual artists of the Italian Baroque period, and yet he is largely unfamiliar to people today as his paintings are not represented in any UK public collections.
Cagnacci was born in Santarcangelo di Romagna, but by the age of 20 he was living in Bologna, having twice visited Rome where he is recorded as staying in Guercino’s house. From 1649 Cagnacci was in Venice, where he worked entirely for a private clientele. In 1658 he moved to Vienna. Little documentation about Cagnacci survives, though some of the racier episodes in his personal life are mentioned in legal and criminal records of the time, which provide an insight into his character.

Few of Cagnacci’s works are dated, but from around 1640 he began to paint extremely sensual, half-length female figures, for which he became renowned in his lifetime. It was whilst living in Vienna (around 1660–61), that Cagnacci painted this monumental (229.2 x 266.1cm) and erotically charged picture.

This is no ordinary representation of Mary Magdalene, who became a follower of Christ and later, a saint. Traditionally shown holding a skull and contemplating her morality, here she lies almost naked on the ground, begged by her virtuous sister Martha to abandon her sinful life of vice and luxury. Virtue, a blond-haired angel, chases out Vice, a devil who bites his hand in anger as he turns for a last look at the Magdalene. The painting is a celebration of the triumph of virtue over vice, but Cagnacci takes obvious pleasure in describing worldly temptations – in particular, the attention he lavishes on the expensive costume, beautiful shoes, and jewellery scattered across the floor. This depiction of Mary and Martha is entirely original, and Cagnacci knew it: he boastfully signed his work ‘GVIDVS CAGNACCIVS INVENTOR’, rather than the usual ‘pinxit’ (painted) or ‘fecit’ (made).

'The Repentant Magdalene' was originally in the illustrious Gonzaga collection in Mantua, Italy (by 1665) but arrived in England in 1711, entering the collection of the Duke of Portland. The painting remained in England for over 250 years until it was purchased by the American collector, Norton Simon (1907–1993) in 1981. This exhibition in Room 1 marks the spectacular return to England of Cagnacci’s masterpiece, 35 years after its departure, and offers National Gallery visitors a unique opportunity to discover the astonishing naturalism and characteristic eroticism of his paintings.

Letizia Treves, Curator of Later Italian, Spanish, and French 17th-century Paintings said: “It has long been a dream of mine to bring this painting to London – it is unquestionably Cagnacci’s masterpiece and one of the greatest Italian Baroque pictures of all time. I hope our visitors are bowled over by it, as I was when I first saw the painting in California 15 years ago.”

National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi said: “Cagnacci is a little-known master, but 'The Repentant Magdalene' is his most important work and once seen it gets lodged in the mind. It is an unforgettable work.”

The exhibition has been organised in association with The Frick Collection in New York.


3. LONDON (AFP).- Glittering gowns, elegant suits and bold mini-dresses worn by the late Princess Diana have gone on show on the 20th anniversary of her death in new exhibition charting her style reign.

"Diana: Her Fashion Story", hosted in her London residence Kensington Palace, follows her evolution from the demure outfits of her first public appearances to the glamorous gowns of her later life.

The show charts how she not only rewrote the rules of royal dressing with a more informal style but also expressed herself through her fashion choices, before her 1997 death in a car crash in Paris.

"Each of the dresses is like a mini biography... They're not just what she wore but they tell stories," Libby Thompson, a curator, told AFP.

Fellow curator Eleri Lynn said: "We see her growing in confidence throughout her life, increasingly taking control of how she was represented".

Some of the highlights include the discreet pale pink Emanuel blouse she wore for her engagement portrait in 1981 and the dazzling ink blue Victor Edelstein velvet dress she wore when she danced with John Travolta at the White House in 1985.

So iconic is the "Travolta" dress that it sold for £250,000 ($310,000) at auction three years ago.

Another gown, a silk velvet dress she wore for private events at Buckingham Palace during the 1980s, is sure to charm many visitors.

Tiny fingerprints believed to belong to one of her sons -- Prince William and Prince Harry -- have been found on the material, preserved through the last 30 years.

Informal wardrobe

The show will also highlight how throughout her years as one of the world's most photographed women, Diana revealed herself to be a diplomatic dresser.

The "Gold Falcon Gown" is a perfect example.

She wore the Catherine Walker cream silk dress embroidered with gold falcons -- the national bird of Saudi Arabia -- during a visit to the country in 1986.

But it was by breaking the codes of royal dressing and embracing a more practical style that Diana transitioned from the Princess of Wales into the "People's Princess" -- the term used by then prime minister Tony Blair after her death.

"She was taking risks, pushing boundaries with her fashion," Poppy Cooper, the exhibition's producer told AFP highlighting how Diana wore black and trousers at formal events. Both were highly unusual choices for royal women.

"Lady Di" also abandoned the protocol of wearing gloves, except during a 1987 visit to Spain where she wore one red glove and one black glove, causing "a media frenzy" according to Cooper.

She also developed a more informal "working wardrobe" of chic Catherine Walker suits and tailored shift dresses to champion the causes she cared about.

"She wanted to be known as a workhorse, not as a clotheshorse," Cooper added.

These outfits, designed to convey approachability, she wore on charitable outings including meeting people with HIV and visiting children in hospital.

Following her separation from Prince Charles in 1992, Diana threw the rulebook away again by adopting a bolder look featuring many figure-hugging mini dresses.

The cream silk mini she wore while attending a charity auction of her more memorable dresses in 1997 is testament to that.

Held in Kensington Palace, her residence for 15 years, the exhibition extends to the gardens where her sons have said they will add a statue of Diana to mark the anniversary of her passing.


4. LONDON.- The Royal Academy of Arts presents America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s, an exhibition chronicling the turbulent economic, political and aesthetic climate that dominated the decade following the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Drawn from collections across the USA, America after the Fall showcases forty-five seminal paintings by some of the foremost artists of the era. For the very first time, Grant Wood’s iconic painting American Gothic, 1930 (Art Institute of Chicago), is being exhibited outside North America. The exhibition also features works by Thomas Hart Benton, Georgia O’Keefe, Philip Guston, Edward Hopper, Alice Neel and Jackson Pollock.

The devastating impact of the Great Depression, brought about by the Wall Street Crash and followed by the Dust Bowl, caused America to enter the 1930s in flux. Over the next decade, the consequences of economic insecurity and social hardship, fueled by mass urbanisation, industrialisation and immigration, reverberated throughout the country, as it struggled to rebuild. Artists endeavoured to capture these rapid changes, seeking to redefine American identity in their work, inadvertently creating a debate over what would become the national art form.

This focused survey of American art is marked by the rich diversity of artistic output. Artists experimented with styles ranging from Abstraction to Regionalism and Surrealism, in order to engage with issues including populism, labour and social protest. Regardless of style, many artists hoped their work could help repair a democracy damaged by economic and political chaos. These artistic developments were also a precursor to the major post-war movements of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.

America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s has been arranged around thematic sections. Industrial Life examines how artists addressed the power of manufacturing and labour. Urban Life captures the role of the city and mass entertainment. Looking to the Past reveals how artists in the Depression era looked back at American history, myths and culture for inspiration. Country Life shows how Regionalist artists, such as Thomas Hart Benton idealised the rapidly disappearing rural America. The trauma of the period, whether from the rise of Fascism or economic uncertainty, is being explored in Visions of Dystopia. Finally, Looking to the Future presents work by artists such as Arthur Dove and Jackson Pollock, who created dynamic paintings that abandoned figuration and served as a foundation to Abstract Expressionism.

Among the exceptional works that represent this decade in American history is Georgia O’Keeffe, Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses, 1931 (Art Institute of Chicago), Charles Sheeler, American Landscape, 1930 (Museum of Modern Art, New York), Jackson Pollock, Untitled, c. 1938-41 (Art Institute of Chicago), Philip Guston, Bombardment, 1937 (Philadelphia Museum of Art), Edward Hopper, Gas, 1940 (Museum of Modern Art , New York), Alice Neel, Pat Whalen, 1935 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) and Thomas Hart Benton, Cotton Pickers, 1945 (Private Collection). These ground breaking paintings highlight the relationship between art and national experience, demonstrating how creativity, experimentation and revolutionary vision flourished during a time of great uncertainty.


5. NEW YORK - Exhibition: Native Fashion Now!

February 18, 2017. The Native Fashion Now exhibit opened February 16 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center in New York. The show represents the innovations of over 50 years of contemporary indigenous fashion with the majority of the pieces being the creation of Native Americans. Sixty-seven US and Canadian artists and designers are represented in the exhibit that showcases the melding of generations-old design and technique and contemporary couture.

From a totem pole designed dress to intricately beaded foot wear, native design-inspired urban street wear, to traditionally crafted jewelry incorporating non-traditional alloys, over 100 pieces express the height of contemporary indigenous fashion.

Traditional materials such as feathers, beads, buckskin and quills are unifying ingredients that link the fashion pieces to pueblo and tribal counterparts, but the outcome is something uniquely modern.

Take, for example, David Gaussoin and Wayne Nez Gaussoin’s (Diné [Navajo])/Picuris Pueblo) Postmodern Boa, made from Stainless steel, sterling silver, enamel, paint, and feathers, that rests on the shoulders and rises in a serpentine, feathered swirl around the head and neck of its wearer. Or consider Alano Edzerza’s (Tahltan) cotton Chilkat tunic in striking black and white, patterning utilizing Northwestern tribal symbols.

Diné designer Orlando Cape’s fiery feathered-capped dress from his “Desert Heat” Collection utilizes painted silk, organza, feathers, beads, and 24k gold; its feathers evoke the essence of a desert southwestern sky at sunset.

Jamie Okuma’s (Luiseño/Shoshone-Bannock) creation, hand-beaded Christian Louboutin Boots, utilizes glass beads from the 1880s, repurposed to cover the boot’s surface, form a bold collage of western tribal motifs.

Although Native Fashion Now celebrates the creativity and innovation of these artists and designers, success is a hard-won endeavor that comes with a unique set of obstacles: One of the challenges that Native American artists face is the integration into their work of designs that carry sacred connotations. The majority of contemporary artists don’t live in their pueblo or tribe of origin and may not be aware of the ceremonial significance of an artistic element. It remains to be seen how tribal spiritual leaders and tribal law can or should impact the work of contemporary artists.

At the show’s opening, in March 2016 at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, the museum hosted a roundtable discussion with three artists, Jamie Okuma (Shoshone), Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo), and Pat Pruitt (Laguna Pueblo) that further captured some of the intricacies of incorporating ancient tradition with modern innovation.

Kathleen C. Stone, writing for Arts Fuse, captured the discussion: “The artists at the roundtable shared thoughts about the specter of assimilation. Most Native artists learn about technique and the spiritual significance of traditional design by working on ceremonial garments and objects for the tribe. When it comes to their own art, they draw on all that makes them who they are, including tribal traditions, and that motivates them when it comes to deciding what to use in their artistic and commercial enterprises. “Whatever we’re doing as artists is to be seen, and sold.” Okuma said. On the other hand, some of their creations must remain out-of-sight from the public. “Ceremonial life remains private to the pueblo,” insists Pruitt.”

“One audience member raised the tricky issue of cultural appropriation this way: “What advice can I give fashion students who are inspired by Native art?” When answering, Okuma pointed out the Isaac Mizrahi dress on display in the gallery: “It’s beautifully done, in a respectful manner. But before using a design, an artist should write to the tribe for guidance. Get permission. Your work must bear the integrity of who you are and where the elements came from.” Michaels offered this as summary: “We are artists, and we are still here, after all the genocides, dislocations, and pillaging. We are proud of who we are, and want to be part of the larger world, while also celebrating our own culture.”

The exhibit will remain at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian through September 4, 2017.


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