Remarkable XV Century Masterpieces at the Louvre
February 27th, 2004
PARIS, FRANCE - Visitors to the Louvre Museum museum will now have an extraordinary opportunity to see some of the most remarkable masterpieces of fifteenth century European art at the Richelieu Wing of the French museum. In 1904, the memorable French Primitives exhibition organized in Paris at the National Library and the Louvre’s Marsan Pavilion, was a huge public success. One hundred years later, this exhibition is designed to recapture the sense of that event. First and foremost though, it aims at providing an account of what art history has achieved since the fifteenth century in a field that has been rich in discoveries. It is also a unique opportunity to see some of the most remarkable masterpieces of fifteenth century European art.
In 1904, a proper critical approach to the study of the paintings and illuminated manuscripts of the period was begun. But also, the last twenty years were marked by the discovery of works long ignored or actually unknown. Paintings, such as Enguerrand Quarton’s Avignon Pietà or Barthélémy d’Eyck’s Aix Annunciation triptych, exceptionally put together, will be shown in Paris for the fist time since 1927, as well as a wide variety of other craftwork - illuminated manuscripts, drawings, tapestries, stained-glass and embroidery. These works form the basis of an exhibition designed to trace the careers of French primitive artists. The exhibition highlights the intensity of artistic exchanges throughout Europe during the XV century, together with an evocation of some particularly fertile centers of artistic activity. From 1430 to 1500, the city of Paris recovered its status as artistic capital after a long stagnation caused by the Hundred Years’ War. Avignon and Aix in Provence, with towering figures such as Enguerrand Quarton and Barthélemy d’Eyck were also important artistic centers.
There is also an exhibition catalogue titled French Primitives: Discoveries and Rediscoveries, created by Dominique Thiébaut, Senior Curator at the Louvre, with François-René Martin and Philippe Lorentz.
The International Artexpo is Open in New York
February 27th, 2004
NEW YORK - International Artexpo is the country’s largest and most comprehensive fine arts show, bringing together an important number of artists, gallery owners, publishers and art enthusiasts. It will feature exciting new events and programs, including informative seminars by leading art authorities, special exhibitions, artist demonstrations and a charity art sale. In addition, SOLO, the new Independent Artists Pavilion makes its debut at this year’s show. This is an effort to provide independent artists with a cost-effective venue to exhibit their original artwork among their peers. This exclusive gallery-like space showcases the works of rising artists, exhibiting one-of-a-kind artwork ranging from original paintings and sculpture to photography and objects. It will not only provide a fresh perspective to International Artexpo’s 2004 collection of work, but also will expose independent artists to a wide variety of galleries and publishers seeking new talent.
The show will demonstrate the diversity of art and its influence on our lives. From artistry in electronics to interior design, the show’s special events highlight art from different perspectives while bringing together artists and professionals from around the world in one comprehensive show. “International Artexpo 2004 will celebrate both the obvious and obscure ways that art impacts our lives through everything we see and do,” says Joyce Jamison, show director, Artexpo. “This year, we’re bringing together independent artists, exhibitors, dealers and the general public to help us celebrate the influence of art in everything from nature, design, food, sports, music and more. We have brought back some popular exhibits and seminars that were part of past years’ shows and incorporated new special events that explore art forms inherent in our daily lives. There’s something for everyone at this year’s show.”
Artexpo University 2004 will feature an informative seminar program hosted by preeminent experts speaking about topics new to the show, including: expanding your business on the Internet, maintaining strong artist-dealer relationships, how to decorate with art, and much more.
International Artexpo is an annual event that features a wide variety of paintings, prints, posters, sculpture, photography, animation and decorative arts. The show, held each year at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City, attracts more than 500 exhibitors and 42,000 attendees. International Artexpo 2004 will be open to the trade on Thursday, February 26 and Friday, February 27, 2004 and to the general public from Saturday, February 28 to Monday, March 1, 2004.
Art of Design: Selections from the Architecture and Design Collection
February 27th, 2004
San Francisco - In the latest installment of its ongoing exhibition The Art of Design: Selections from the Architecture and Design Collection, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will highlight more than seventy landmark examples of twentieth-century print design, with an emphasis on suites of work by leading visionaries and a remarkably vivid array of new acquisitions in commercial poster art. This exhibition combines selections from the Museum’s extensive holdings of more than four hundred American psychedelic-era rock posters of the 1960s and 1970s with recently acquired Japanese poster art from the 1960s by legendary Pop art icon Tadanori Yokoo. Newly accessioned suites of posters designed by Michael Bierut of Pentagram and Jennifer Morla of Morla Design will also be on view, in addition to a display of works by Steve Tolleson of Tolleson Design and Amy Franceschini of Futurefarmers.
Organized by Joseph Rosa, Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design, with the assistance of Curatorial Associate Darrin Alfred, this exhibition traces the trajectory of design sensibility within individual artists’ careers and presents progressive graphic design from the Museum’s collection in a fresh context. Describing how these works shape the collection, Rosa comments: “Building on SFMOMA’s strengths in experimental California graphic design—demonstrated in part by the layered arrangements of Jennifer Morla and the hallucinatory collection of 1960s rock posters—we continue to broaden the scope of our holdings by presenting parallel relationships between both national and international designers such as Michael Bierut and Tadanori Yokoo.”
2004-02-27 until 2004-08-07
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Is this a photograph of Vincent van Gogh ?
February 25th, 2004
The public will get a chance to decide if a photograph that scientists claim to be a rare image of Vincent van Gogh is really the artist or a simple case of mistaken identity.
Van Gogh painted more than 40 self-portraits but there are only two photographs in existence that are widely believed to be the artist - at the ages of 13 and 19.
The latest discovery, bought for just $1 in the early 1990s in an antique dealer's shop, is the subject of a new exhibition that attempts to make the case for its authenticity.
The image, dating back to 1886, certainly bears a striking resemblance to the Dutch artist's own work.
It shows a middle-aged man with a well-kept beard and a thin, long nose. He is wearing a plain suit and small bow tie. His hair is neatly combed back and he has a distinctive widow's peak hairline.
The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam has contested the case that the picture is the artist. But Albert Harper, director of the Henry Lee Institute of Forensic Science in the US, who has worked on authenticating the photograph, is convinced.
As a part of the study, investigators matched the size of the forehead, the shape of the eyes and even individual hairs.
Images are overlayed on the photograph in the exhibit called Discovering Vincent van Gogh: A Forensic Study in Identification, at the Seton Gallery at the University of New Haven until March 4.
Artist Tom Stanford discovered the photograph while flipping through an album of cabinet card photographs, mostly of clergymen, dating back to the late 19th century at an antique dealer's in Massachusetts.
"I saw it and thought it was Van Gogh right away, and the more I looked at it, the more I was sure," he said.
He took the photograph to the photo historian Joseph Buberger, who had previously worked on identifying images of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant.
Mr Buberger came to believe the photograph was really the Dutch artist. One sketch completed in Paris was particularly striking he said.
"Even the most minute detail matched up, even the smallest hairs on the beards matched up," Mr Harper said.
Mr Buberger said he believes it is entirely possible that Van Gogh drew and painted his self-portraits based on the photograph. He points to the time period - Van Gogh produced most of his self-portraits at the time the photograph was taken - as evidence.
And after searching through databases, Mr Buberger matched the photographer's name, Victor Morin, which is printed on the front of the photograph, with an old studio in Brussels, a city where Van Gogh spent much of his time.
Even more, the research team claims that the only authenticated photographs of van Gogh's face, at ages 13 and 19, are actually pictures of his brother, Theo. The photographs, which were taken in 1866 and 1873, do not match Van Gogh's self-portraits, Mr Buberger said.
Charles Saatchi buys portrait of a princess Diana, that was painted by a former stripper
February 24th, 2004
Portrait of a princess: this shocking image of Diana with blood pouring from her mouth is the latest acquisition of multimillionaire art collector Charles Saatchi.
Charles Saatchi has never been afraid to take risks, but his latest acquisition could prove more controversial than Damien Hirst's pickled shark or Tracey Emin's dishevelled bed.
His new purchase is not attracting attention because it was painted by a former stripper who had never sold a painting until a fortnight ago but because it shows Diana, the late Princess of Wales, with blood dribbling from her mouth.
Stella Vine's picture, called Hi Paul Can You Come Over, is meant to reflect the paranoia the princess felt in the months before she died.
It is part of the New Blood exhibition, which opens at the Saatchi Gallery at County Hall in London on March 23.
"I really loved Diana, warts and all, and I cried the whole day of her funeral," said Vine.
"This is a dark painting with a bit of violence in there, but it has come from imagining what she must have been feeling, all alone in Kensington Palace believing her phones were bugged and seeing Paul Burrell as her only friend."
Vine, 35, was born in Alnwick, Northumberland, and left home at 13. After acting in pantomimes she moved to London and worked in a clipjoint before moving to the Windmill Club in Soho, where she earned £200 a week as a stripper.
She was on the verge of giving up on art because she was not earning anything. But that changed when Charles Saatchi bought the painting for £600 two weeks ago.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for me. To have a painting bought by Charles Saatchi is amazing," she said.
"I didn't think anyone really liked what I was doing and I literally have the bailiffs at my door.
"Now my work will be on display to so many people and I'm just hoping someone else will be interested in buying it."
Other pieces in the New Blood exhibition include a vibrating mummy clutching a packet of cigarettes and a collection of stuffed horses arranged on a table to resemble Henry Moore sculptures.
Iran welcomes the first exhibition of British art since the Islamic revolution in 1979
February 24th, 2004
The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition includes works by many big names of UK art including Damien Hirst, Henry Moore and Gilbert and George.
The gallery hopes the display will "open a new era of cultural and artistic collaborations" between the countries.
Sculptor Bill Woodrow, who is in Tehran, said Iranian art-lovers were "very excited" about seeing the show.
The exhibition focuses on British sculpture and includes Hirst's previously unseen work Resurrection.
It will also feature pieces by Woodrow, Barbara Hepworth, Mona Hatoum, Anish Kapoor and Anya Gallaccio.
Woodrow said he expected the crowd to be "a very young audience, and mainly students, as far as I can gather".
"They're very familiar to all this work - but in a second-hand way all from photographs and even from the internet," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"They're very excited about being able to see it now in the flesh, and to see if their ideas match up to the real thing."
The gallery's director Dr Alireza Sami Azar said cultural collaborations had suffered from political tensions between the governments in the past.
"This exhibition will give momentum to further exchanges of cultural projects between the two countries," he told Today.
Political relations between Iran and the UK have warmed in recent years. Prince Charles recently became the first royal visitor since 1975.
The British ambassador in Tehran, Richard Dalton, has welcomed the exhibition as "another step in the growing cultural exchanges between our two countries".
16th Annual Exhibition to be Held at the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York
February 20th, 2004
New York - The sixteenth annual Art Show, will be held February 19–23, 2004 and will present museum-quality works of art in a variety of mediums that span the centuries from the 15th century to modern and contemporary art. The exhibiting galleries in The Art Show were selected by the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) from among its membership. Located in the vast, elegant interior of the historic Seventh Regiment Armory, on Park Avenue at 67th Street, The Art Show 2004 will be a vital microcosm of art history, global in its reach, immediate in its appeal to discerning collectors. Dramatically installed, the show offers solo and group installations of paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and photographs from 70 of the nation’s leading galleries. The Art Show Gala Preview on February 18, will benefit Henry Street Settlement, a prominent social services and arts agency located on New York’s Lower East Side.
This year The Art Show highlights a group of solo-shows that are ambitious and not to be missed. Continuing their tradition of showing a single artist at The Art Show for the last several years, PaceWildenstein will present recent works by the Abstract Expressionist sculptor John Chamberlain. The Joan T. Washburn Gallery, the representatives of the Pollock-Krasner Estate, will show paintings and ink drawings by Jackson Pollock, including works heavily inspired by El Greco and Chaim Soutine. These pieces offer Pollock-aficionados an exciting opportunity to see his diverse skill beyond the championed Action Paintings. Having exhibited for nearly ten years at The Art Show, The Fraenkel Gallery will present their first-ever solo show at this important event—a survey of Diane Arbus. The installation, which features a range of photographs from her iconic images to lesser-known works, coincides with her retrospective currently at SFMOMA and traveling to the Metropolitan Museum in 2005. Ameringer & Yohe will present the recent stripe paintings of Kenneth Noland. Rounding out the group of individual shows is a retrospective of Lynn Chadwick’s sculpture, marked by the stylistic reinterpretation of the human condition in the information age, exhibited by the Tasende Gallery of Los Angeles.
In addition to solo-exhibitions, there will be scores of notable works of art on view at the armory this February. In 1940, the year of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s divorce, Sigmund Firestone commissioned the two estranged lovers to each create a self-portrait. To this day, these two portraits have remained a pair, and will be on display at The Art Show courtesy of Mary-Anne Martin/Fine Art. This is an unrivaled occasion to see such rare works, as they are the only such paintings ever to have been made. Additional groundbreaking self-portraiture will be found in Max Beckmann’s Selbstbildnis mit steifem Hut (Self portrait in Bowler Hat) exhibited by Alice Adam Ltd. Not only the most important self-portrait of Beckmann’s career, this work is considered to be the most important self-portrait of the German Expressionist era. Another first at The Art Show this year is a rare Winslow Homer offered by The Kennedy Galleries. Listed in the Catologue Raisonné as presumed lost, the painted tile titled Flirting on the Sea-Shore marks its return after having been lost for over 125 years.
These and other works of art, valued at thousands of dollars to multi-million dollars, will be on view in surroundings designed expressly for that purpose and in a context conducive to study and acquisition. Member exhibitors are known to reserve their best works specifically for The Art Show, because of the prestigious international art audience the exhibition consistently draws.
The Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), a non-profit membership organization of the nations leading dealers in the fine arts, seeks to promote the highest standards of connoisseurship, scholarship and ethical practice within the profession.
The UK government places a temporary export ban on the Master of Moulins' painting "The Virgin in Mourning"
February 20th, 2004
A painting by a mysterious 15th Century European painter known as the Master of Moulins' has been barred from being taken out of the UK by the government.
Arts Minister Estelle Morris has placed a temporary export ban on The Virgin in Mourning to allow £600,000 to be raised to keep the painting in the country.
Owned by an anonymous collector, it is one of just two works by the artist - whose identity is unknown - in the UK.
Potential buyers now have two months to raise the required price.
Ms Morris imposed the export bar after the current owner applied for an export licence - although its intended destination is unknown.
In a statement, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it was the "last chance" to keep the painting in the UK.
"The painting is of outstanding aesthetic importance and in good condition," it said.
"If retained in the UK, it would provide an excellent opportunity for us to increase our understanding and appreciation of the work of this master and of French painting in the late medieval and early Renaissance."
The Master of Moulins was painted between 1480-1500 and is regarded as the most significant artist of the French school of international gothic art.
Fewer than a dozen of his works are known to exist in the world.
His moniker comes from his most famous work, in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Moulins, central France.
Some think his true identity to be Jean Hey, a painter originally from the Netherlands, while others think he was Jean Perreal.
Ms Morris also placed a temporary export bar on a marble table made for one of the richest men of the 18th Century, William Beckford.
Beckford was one of the most controversial characters of his time and fled England after his relationship with an 11-year-old boy became public.
Made of Siena marble, the table was thought to have been designed by Beckford himself and is valued at £220,000.
Rembrandt’s at the Art Institute of Chicago
February 17th, 2004
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS. - The exhibition Rembrandt’s Journey: Painter, Draftsman, Etcher has just opened at the Art Institute of Chicago, on view until May 9, 2004. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the 200 works on view include approximately 20 paintings, 30 drawings and 150 prints. Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669) is one of the most creative and celebrated artists in history. With more than 200 works from all periods of his long career drawn from major collections around the world, this is the first American exhibition to explore Rembrandt’s astonishing range and variety of activity as a brilliant etcher seen in the context of his paintings and drawings. Rembrandt’s Journey highlights the parallel relationships among the master’s paintings, drawings, and prints—closely examining imagery, narrative content, and the marks of the artist’s hand, as well as his approach to religious illustration in all of the media he mastered and reinvented. A closer study of the expressions, gestures, and body language of his figures will provide deeper insight into the inventive, subtle, and complex way he interpreted Biblical texts and imaginatively projected himself into them. The exhibition will focus on several of the subjects to which Rembrandt returned—portraits and self-portraits, everyday life, landscape, the nude—at various stages of his career.
The National Gallery of Ireland defends Caravaggio work
February 17th, 2004
The National Gallery of Ireland has said it is confident one of its most important paintings is authentic.
Italian art expert Maria Letizia Paoletti had said a dealer in Rome had the original of The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio.
Museum director Raymond Keaveney said the painting was definitely by the celebrated artist, who died in 1610.
"The attribution has been unanimously accepted by experts ever since its discovery in August 1990," he said.
Painted in 1602, the Gallery's artwork started off in Rome, then was sold to Scotland, before ending up in Ireland.
It was found hanging in the dining room of a Roman Catholic Jesuit order house in Dublin - where it had been since the 1930s - by Sergio Benedetti, the museum's head curator and expert on 17th century Italian art.
The work has been a major visitor attraction at the gallery since it was put on display there 14 years ago.
Mr Keaveney said the National Gallery had known of the Rome painting since 1951.
He added "no major authority" had questioned Mr Benedetti's November 1993 conclusion that the Gallery had the genuine artwork.
Mr Benedetti has suggested that both canvases be shown at an exhibition in Milan to which the Gallery's painting is being loaned later this year
Russian Student Artem Tregubov won the best project in Florence
February 15th, 2004
RUSSIA - The famous Pravda diary publishes today that a Russian student, Artem Tregubov “Has won the contest for the best project for reconstruction Orthodox church in Florence . The success of the student of Ural Architecture Academy surprised everybody: he competed with well-known architects. However, the projects of other architects were estimated as too modernistic and contradicting the spirit of the Orthodox Church.”
“Winning the contest is not all. To start construction work in the historical part of Florence, one has to undergo plenty of formalities. It can take from several months to several years to be granted local authorities permission. The Church of Christ Birth was built in 1905 on the project by Mikhail Preobrazhensky in ’Byzantine eclecticism’ style.”
Andy Warhol – The Late Work at Kunst Palast
February 15th, 2004
DUSSELDORF. - Museum Kunst Palast presents 'Andy Warhol – The Late Work,' on view through May 31 2004. With a concentrated focus on the late work of Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987), museum kunst palast is presenting an exhibition which was conceived in close cooperation with Mark Francis, the founding director of the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh, and which explores the last 15 years of Warhol’s work with its multitude of facets.
The Düsseldorf exhibition, which introduces Warhol less as an icon of Pop Art, but rather as a painter who was eager to experiment and as an artist who used all means and media, will subsequently be presented at the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz, at the Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm, and at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon in Lyons.
The exhibition comprises 320 loans which have rarely been presented to date, including very large-scale paintings such as Oxidation (1978), Rorschach (1984), Camouflage (1986) or The Last Supper (1986). Moreover, the show includes print series such as Mao (1972) and Sunsets (1972), wallpapers and videos, films such as Heat or Women in Revolt, as well as a variety of photographs which have not been published to date. For the first time, the opportunity is given to discover Warhol’s interest in abstract painting as well as a medial variety in his late work.
The National Gallery (UK) has reached an agreement on the purchase of Raphael's The Madonna of the Pinks
February 15th, 2004
The painting, which was owned by the Duke of Northumberland but has been on loan to the gallery since 1992, has been bought for £22m, after tax.
The money was raised jointly by the Heritage Lottery fund and contributions from members of the public.
The Duke originally wanted to sell the art work to the J Paul Getty Museum in California for a reported £29m.
The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £11.5m to the National Gallery in July to help it bid to keep the painting, which measures just 11.4 inches by 9 inches.
Donations from both gallery visitors and private contributors, the American Friends of the National Gallery plus a £400,000 grant from the National Art Collections Fund made up the £10.5m needed to top up the Lottery Fund's share.
The painting will go on a tour of the UK, taking in the National Museums and Gallery of Wales in Cardiff, Manchester City Art Gallery, the McLellan Galleries in Glasgow and the Bowes Museum, County Durham, near its former home at the duke's Alnick Castle.
The Madonna of the Pinks will return to London in time for the National Gallery's major Raphael exhibition, which opens in October.
Claude Monet Exhibition in Madrid Draws Record Numbers
February 11th, 2004
MADRID, SPAIN. - The Prado Museum closed to the public the exhibition ’Manet at the Prado’ last Sunday, after having received 439,043 visitors during the four months it remained open. This makes it the most popular exhibition of the museum after the Velázquez retrospective exhibition in 1990. The Prado Museum received 2.3 million visitors last year; the three most popular exhibitions of the museum being that of Vermeer, Titian and Manet. During this passed January the total number of visitors to the Museum, to both the Manet exhibition and the permanent collection- ascended to 183,973 people, the highest figure registered during the same period in the last 20 years. The thousands of visitors enjoyed in this exhibition the evolution of the work of the so called "father of modernity", from his first paintings -more classical in nature- to the culmination of his artistic career and his discovery of Spanish painting. Presenting 60 of his finest paintings, besides a collection of prints and drawings coming from institutions as well as private collections from around the world, the exhibition was considered by its organizers ‘a historic event’.
The French painter and printmaker Edouard Manet was born on January 23, 1832, in Paris. In his own work, Manet accomplished the transition from the realism of Gustave Courbet to Impressionism. Manet broke new ground in choosing subjects from the events and appearances of his own time and in stressing the definition of painting as the arrangement of paint areas on a canvas over and above its function as representation. Exhibited in 1863 at the Salon des Refusés, his Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe ("Luncheon on the Grass") aroused the hostility of the critics and the enthusiasm of a group of young painters who later formed the nucleus of the Impressionists. His other notable works include Olympia (1863) and A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882). He died on April 30, 1883.
National Gallery Unveils Mystery of El Greco Portrait
February 11th, 2004
LONDON. - The National Gallery of London wants to take advantage of their exhibition ’El Greco’, which opens today and remains on view until May 23, to demonstrate once and for all that the mysterious painting ’The Lady of the Ermine’ is the only portrait of a woman created by the painter. Today, the first major retrospective exhibition of El Greco’s work in the UK is inaugurated. The exhibition showcases eighty works by this enigmatic, genial and influential painter, considered to be the first modern artist and whose influence reached XX Century artists. The show, one of the most important of the season in London, includes ’The Lady of the Ermine’, a painting that dates back to 1577 exhibited at the Museum of Glasgow (Scotland) as a work by El Greco, but whose authenticity is not certain, mainly in Spain. It is a work that is very different to the religious paintings of the painter born in Crete, which portraits a woman almost identical to his famous ’Mater Dolorosa’, but painted with more vivid colors than usual. This painting has always been surrounded by controversy and mystery, because, apart from the doubts that exist upon its authenticity, in 1838 it was attributed to a nonexistent daughter of El Greco, the identity of the woman portrayed remains a mystery. Therefore the National Gallery has decided to submit the painting to x ray tests to determine whether it is a genuine ’El Greco’ work.
Domenikos Theotokopoulos (1541 - 1614), better known as El Greco (the Greek), was one of the most original painters of his time. His unique visionary style, characterized by elongated forms and bright colors, combines aspects of Byzantine and Western art. Startlingly modern in appearance, his work inspired twentieth-century painters including Cézanne, Picasso and Jackson Pollock.
Luis Meléndez’s Paintings at The Museo del Prado
February 7th, 2004
MADRID.- The Museo del Prado is presenting on February 17 the exhibition Luis Meléndez: Still Lifes , devoted to the most important 18th-century still life painter in Spain. In addition to a selection of works from the Museum’s own collection, it features others from foreign institutions such as the ”Still Life with Figs and Bread” from the National Gallery of Washington, exhibited in Spain for the first time. The exhibition features 40 paintings as well as 26 objects comparable to those represented by the artist.
The Museo Nacional del Prado is organising this exhibition with the intention of offering an overview of the work of Luis Meléndez (1716-1780) through his still lifes, the genre in which he was to achieve such artistic mastery. Having studied with Louis-Michel van Loo, mastering the genres of portraiture and probably history painting, Meléndez worked independently as a miniaturist before he specialised in still lifes. He produced a group of 44 paintings for the Prince of Asturias, the future Charles IV, describing them as “... an amusing cabinet with all sorts of food stuffs which the Spanish climate produces...”. These are now almost all in the Museo del Prado and a key group of 14 of them provides the core of the exhibition, to which a further 26 paintings from European and North American collections has been added, most of them never previously exhibited in Spain. The selection allows for an appreciation of the variety of themes and formats that Meléndez used, as well as for the way in which he constructed his composition.
At the same period that he created the group for the Prince of Asturias, Meléndez painted similar works for his private clients. Among these is the Still Life with Oranges, Nuts, a Box of Sweetmeats and a Jug from the National Gallery in London, which will be exhibited for the first time with its pair, the Still Life with Pears, Wine Cooler, Bottle and Basket, loaned from a private collection. In addition, the exhibition includes the artist’s most recent work to have entered a museum collection, the Still Life with Figs and Bread, acquired by the National Gallery of Washington and never previously exhibited in Spain. Both these and the other works on loan correspond to this type of private commission and further amplify our vision of the various facets of this artist’s work.
In addition to the paintings, the exhibition features a number of objects – vessels, storage jars and baskets – similar to those that Meléndez would have used as models. The inclusion of these objects allows us to appreciate his remarkable abilities to convey textures and the fall of light on the objects and the incredible degree of verisimilitude in his compositions.
The exhibition has been curated by Dr Peter Cherry, Professor at Trinity College, Dublin, and Dr Juan J. Luna, Head of the Department of 18th-century Painting at the Museo del Prado. It will subsequently travel to the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin in June.
The catalogue (in Spanish) contains introductory essays by Peter Cherry, Juan J. Luna and Natacha Seseña, specialist in decorative arts. Each of the paintings is individually catalogued.
To coincide with the exhibition, and in addition to the accompanying catalogue, the Museo del Prado will be publishing Luis Meléndez: la serie de bodegones para el Príncipe de Asturias: Estudio Técnico, by Dr Cherry and Dr Carmen Garrido, Head of the Museum’s Technical Department.
The exhibition 'Photography and Soviet Censorship' at Berlin
February 7th, 2004
This exhibition is one of the first attempts to comprehend censored photography of the Soviet Union from Brezhnev until perestroyka. An exhibition can only fragmentarily trace Soviet censorship (Boris Groys once called it non-transparent), it can neither explore all of its spheres nor shed light on them in a systematic way, particularly because there is not much proof of forbidden photography. The publication of "incorrect" images used to be simply refused without any comments and photos were just taken off the walls shortly before the opening of exhibitions. Stamps for refusal of public display, as for export, did not exist.
Thus research into Soviet censorship of images resembles ethnographic field studies: its most important source are the authors themselves and other first-hand witnesses. Apart from that, there are stories about this modern kind of iconoclasm which circulate until this day in the form of anecdotes. One of them is about the white shoes of a highly decorated war veteran in a black suit which were discovered on the photo only after its publication in a newspaper. Did the photographer paint them white to mock a Soviet hero?!
Margarita Paskeviciute, curator of the exhibition, can tell many such stories. She was employed by the Soviet society of photographic art shortly after its founding in 1969 and remained there for 23 years. According to her, one of the most important tools in her job was a sign that read "Closed for technical reasons" which she used to carry in her pocket at all times so that she could hang it up at the entrance should the gaps in-between pictures become too wide.
Aside from those with insders knowledge, the steadily disappearing collective memory of homo sovieticus helps to reconstruct the guidelines of Soviet censorship. In fact, every thinking Soviet citizen knew them without written declaration: one could guess what the censor had in mind when he ordered a picture to be taken down before the opening of an exhibition. Ideological control was omnipresent and not confined to works of art, as one of Antanas Sutkus‚ photos shows. Censorship was also applied in real life: dissidents were locked away in psychiatric hospitals and men with long hair shaven bald in the local police station - the same place where people found drunk would be put under cold showers to sober them up. One of the consequences of officially non-existent censorship was that some photographers resigned and put their work straight into the drawer.
Photography seemed ideally suited to socialist realism: life could be shown in a form that was understandable to every worker and, what was more important, the pictures could be reproduced for propaganda purposes. Any type of experiment, including of course more advanced photography, were unwelcome; documentary style was preferred. It was only allowed to show the "correct" life of communist society: there were permitted and forbidden subjects. The latter included everything that mustn‚t exist: social outsiders ˆ the poor, those who got into trouble with the law, the jobless, disabled, old-aged and, naturally, dissidents. Other forbidden themes were pollution of the environment, all signs of mismanagement, as well as, for a long time, the naked human body and certain practices and ways of life - mainly religion and alcoholism.
The taboos concerning ideologically preferred themes - the military and political festivities - are most interesting from a technical point of view. Depictions of young, heroic soldiers or of neat workers marching in exact rows were expected. Images of mass meetings and demonstrations produced almost a genre in its own right in Soviet photography. They were, one could say, obligatory for each press photographer. But some photographers departed soon enough from the pattern of parading de-individualised masses. The photographic eye discovered the decomposition of ordered state festivities or faces that looked tired and resigned. When the mood improved the camera discerned alcohol-induced liveliness with carnevalesque tendencies. These images evoke associations with the mediveal danse macabre or Dutch scenes of peasant feasts. It is obvious that they could hardly have delighted even censors with little iconographic knowledge.
As nowadays the point of view of the censors will not always be understandable short commentaries will be attached to the pictures.
2004-02-06 until 2004-03-27
Giedre Bartelt Galerie, Berlin, Germany
Impressionist & Modern Art at Christie’s in London
February 3rd, 2004
LONDON.- Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art evening sale took place last night. It was rich in works central to the modern movement of the early 20th century and, together with the fact that such a high proportion of works were totally fresh to the market, demand was expected to be strong this season. Featuring works by the leading artists of the period from Cézanne, Seurat, Degas to Léger, Matisse and Picasso, the auction charts the course of Impressionism through to Fauvism, Cubism and German Expressionism. The centerpiece of the sale was Lyonel Feininger’s Zeitungsleser II (Newspaper Readers II), from 1916, arguably one of the most significant works from the artist’s mature years and poised to establish a new world auction record for the artist. Painted at a critical time in the history of 20th century painting, the work shows strong influences of Cubism and Futurism, the most significant movements of the pre-war years. The vibrant bright colors belie the fact that Newspaper Readers II was painted during the First World War, a period of great uncertainty and difficulty for Feininger, who as an American citizen living in the German Reich, felt increasingly nervous at the likelihood of the United States entering the war.
A further major highlight was La danse, a cutout by Henri Matisse executed in 1938 and one of his most well-known images. Dating from the period when Matisse produced his most iconic collages, La danse, from a private collection, makes reference to the artist’s masterpiece of the same name from 1910 and celebrates his achievements of the past and his pioneering advances in the present. Also featured in the sale were La route de Marly-le-Roi by Alfred Sisley; Grand bouquet de fleurs by Paul Cézanne; Guitare sur un tapis rouge by Pablo Picasso; Portrait de femme dans ’Le Rat Mort’ by Maurice de Vlaminck; L’homme à la tulipe by Robert Delaunay; and Danseuse aux bijoux by Kees van Dongen.
Leonardo da Vinci has drawn 2003's biggest crowds at New York's Metropolitan Museum
February 3rd, 2004
The collection of 120 drawings attracted an average 6,863 people a day, according to a survey of visitor numbers in The Art Newspaper.
The Met also boasted the second-biggest exhibition with German photographer Thomas Struth attracting 5,790 a day.
The most popular in the UK was the Art Deco exhibition at London's Victoria and Albert Museum.
The V&A exhibition attracted 3,103 people a day during its run.
The second most popular was the Titian show at the National Gallery, which reunited many of the artist's masterpieces for the first time in centuries.
But the annual survey found visitor numbers had dropped overall in the UK and US.
Of the 286 exhibitions listed, only 190 attracted more than 1,000 visitors a day, compared with 215 the previous year.
The Art Newspaper said the fall could be contributed to a "global economic slump and the decline in international tourism which followed the war in Iraq".
The survey is compiled by the size of the daily attendance, not overall numbers, for exhibitions which ended in 2003.
The Peter the Great exhibition at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg was the third most attended of the survey (5,759), followed by the Da Vinci show at the Louvre in Paris (5,511).
The Metropolitan boasted four exhibitions in the top 10, while New York's Museum of Modern Art was also featured.
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