Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rodin in New Mexico, Philadelphia and Paris

LAS CRUCES, NM – If you plan to be anywhere near Las Cruces between now and November 22, check out the special exhibit at the Las Cruces Museum of Art: Rodin: In His Owns Words. The show features forty-two sculptures and related works by French artist Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917). Free admission. The exhibit includes bronzes of various sizes, a selection of photographs and portraits of Rodin, as well as journal entries and letters by the artist. Accompanying the show is an educational exhibit on the lost-wax casting process, the traditional method for creating bronze sculptures.

Auguste Rodin was a pioneer in sculpture, creating bold impressionistic pieces that have been exhibited at museums worldwide. Sculptures on exhibit will include such well-known works as The Thinker, Head of Balzac, and The Burghers of Calais, First Maquette. “Rodin: In His Own Words” offers ae rare opportunity to view these masterpieces in person … unless of course you’re in Paris, and can get to the exquisite Musee Rodin at 79 Rue de Varenne. It’s a gem, and the garden is not to be missed. Or, to the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, at Benjamin Frnklin Parkway at 22nd St.

Throughout the run of the Las Cruces exhibition, the Museum -- located at 491 N. Main -- will be hosting a series of special events. On the second Saturday of each month, the Las Cruces Friends of Chamber Music will present “Musical Reflections on the Life and Times of Rodin.” The Museum of Art will also host a guest lecture series including New Mexico sculptor Michael Naranjo and Matthew Palczynski, Staff Lecturer for the Philadelphia Museum of Art (which administers the Rodin Museum in Philly.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Quest and Quandary in Art Restoration

The mere suggestion that we might one day go to Prague started me poking around the web. (I'm always on the lookout for new Jane's Smart Art audio guide must-see sites!) I came across this ...

To help guide the restoration of the original Dürer altarpiece, The Feast of the Rose Garlands, the National Gallery in Prague is trying to track down an important lost copy.

The altarpiece was painted by Albrecht Dürer in 1506, during his stay in Venice, commissioned by German merchants for their chapel in the parish Church of San Bartolomeo. According to CultureKiosk, the patrons selected the theme: the painting depicts an ideal congregation of the Brotherhood of the Rosary. The Virgin with the Infant Christ, and Saint Dominic and angels dispense a symbolic blessing in the form of rose garlands. On the left are representatives of the clergy with the Pope at their head, while on the right representatives of secular power receive the blessing. Among these is a portrait the Holy Roman Emperor-in-waiting, Maximilian I. Undoubtedly the other figures portray prominent personages of the German colony in Venice. The man standing under a tree to the right is Dürer himself.

Dürer was proud of his achievement, writing to a friend in Nuremberg that "there is no better Madonna picture in the land than mine".

Considered a landmark work in the transition between the late Gothic and the Renaissance, contemporary writings tell us that the painting drew crowds of visitors from all over Europe. The Emperor Rudolf II was determined to acquire it at any cost.

The painting remained in the church in Venice for a century, until in 1606 when it was removed by Emperor Rudolph II for his art collection, and taken to Prague. The Durer was replaced by an Assumption of the Virgin painted by Johann Rottenhammer. But, before the Dürer altarpiece was removed, Rottenhammer painted a copy of it.

The original of The Feast of the Rose Garlands suffered a series of damages -- first while in Venice, then as it was carried over the Alps by four bearers, and yet again after its arrival in Prague. By the end of the 17th century, a considerable amount of the paint had been lost.

The Art Newspaper tells us that it was completely restored in 1841 by artist Johann Gruss. By modern standards his restoration was very crude -- for instance, he omitted a life-size trompe l'oeil fly which Dürer had painted on the Virgin's white drapery. A proper restoration must grapple with the difficult question as to whether there should be relatively minor conservation to remove the most glaring defects of the 1841 repainting, or a full restoration which would radically change the picture's appearance and return it closer to Dürer's original.

A very old black-and-white photograph of The Feast of the Rose Garlands exists, and there are several 17th-century copies, but the earliest and most accurate version is that by Rottenhammer. That copy originally went to the Palazzo Grimani in Venice, where it stayed until 1839. It then was sent to England where it was later purchased, in 1905, for £50, by the distinguished collector Herbert Cook. The picture was still in the Cook collection in 1945, which means that it was not looted on the continent during World War II, as some art historians had feared. It was later sold to a London-based gallery which has since closed. That's when the trail went cold.

Since it is known to have survived World War II, the chances of it being out there somewhere are very high. Check your attic!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

One of the grand things about life in central New Jersey is the proximity of the world-class museums in Manhattan and Philadelphia, as well as exceptional smaller museums like that at Princeton University and the Zimmerli at Rutgers.

This fall, the Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick is showing Dark Dreams: The Prints of Francisco Goya, an exhibition of 100 prints demonstrating Goya’s technical and creative achievements as a printmaker. The exhibition will present two complete suites of prints by Goya (1746-1828), Los Caprichos and Los Disparates. In addition, a special display of 12 works by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Enrique Chagoya (born 1953) and Yinka Shonibare MBE (born 1962) demonstrates the continuing impact of Goya’s imagery and imagination on successive generations of artists.

The exhibition features Goya’s first major series of etchings, Los Caprichos (1799), comprising eighty works treating subjects ranging from witches and goblins to critical commentary on the contemporary state of education, religion, and relations between different social classes of that time. Later, Goya revisited the monstrous themes of Los Caprichos in the late etchings he referred to as Los Disparates (“Follies”), which he created between 1816 and 1824. The exhibition also includes Bullfight in a Divided Ring (1825), from the series of The Bulls of Bordeaux, a late work demonstrating Goya’s success with the new medium of lithography. The rare first-edition Goya prints in the exhibition are generously lent by the Arthur Ross Foundation, New York.

The exhibition opened on September 2 and will continue through December 14, '08. Apparently everyone is invited to a public celebration at the museum next Tuesday, September 16, from 5 to 7pm.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Would That I Could Get to the Getty

LOS ANGELES - To celebrate Italian Language Week, the J. Paul Getty Museum is offering a special one-hour overview -- in italiano -- of the current exhibition: Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) is considered the greatest Baroque sculptor, and his unparalleled talent as a portrait sculptor transformed the practice and earned him the patronage of the Catholic Church and nobility in 17th- century Rome. Co-organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa , Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture is the first major exhibition of Bernini's work in North America and the first ever comprehensive exhibition of the artist's portrait busts.

On view at the Getty Center through October 26, 2008 , the special exhibition also includes Bernini's portrait drawings, as well as portrait busts by other important sculptors in 17th-century Rome such as Francesco Mochi, François Duquesnoy, Giuliano Finelli, and Alessandro Algardi. If you’ve been to Rome, you know Bernini. If you’ve listened to the Jane’s Smart Art audio guide to St. Peter’s Basilica, you’re also familiar with the work of Mochi, Duquesnoy, and Algardi.

As a complement to the Baroque portraiture exhibit, the Getty Center has mounted another temporary exhibit at , Faces of Power and Piety: Medieval Portraiture -- also through October 26, 2008.
The goal of medieval portraiture was to present a subject not at a particular moment in time, but as the person wished to be remembered through the ages. “While modern portraiture strives to capture the accurate likeness of a specific person, medieval portraiture was primarily valued for its ability to express an individual’s social status, religious convictions, or political position,” says Elizabeth Morrison, curator of manuscripts, J. Paul Getty Museum.

Art Daily provides a schedule of related lectures, gallery talks, & concerts in Sept and Oct.

New operating hours and parking fees
Henceforth, the Getty Center will close at 5:30 pm (a half hour earlier than previously) on Sundays and Tuesday through Friday. Saturdays it will remain open until 9pm. The Getty Center is closed on Mondays. Ticketed events and performances will still be presented on Friday evenings, but the galleries will not be open to the general public. Getty Villa hours will remain unchanged.

Admission to both Museums remains free.

In addition, beginning on Sept. 9, parking fees at both the Getty Center and the GettyVilla increased from $8 to $10.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Grand Canal Gets 4th Bridge, Finally

VENICE - Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s new Venetian bridge has been taking a beating from the critics. Focusing largely on its high cost, the local government has decided not to officially inaugurate it on September 18 as planned.

The first bridge constructed in Venice in 125 years, it connects the train station to the vehicular area of Piazzale Roma. It represents a decided break with the traditional architecture of the city.

An exquisitely historic thoroughfare, the the Grand Canal is lined with ancient palaces. Among them are the Ca’ Rezzonico, Ca’ d’Oro, Ca’ Foscari, Palazzo Barbarigo and the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, which houses the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The churches along the canal include the basilica of Santa Maria della Salute. Centuries-old tradition such as the Historical Regatta take place every year along the Canal.

The famous stone Rialto Bridge that stands today was built in 1591, but was preceded by, first, a pontoon bridge erected in 1181, then a timber bridge built in 1255. For centuries this was the only bridge crossing over the Grand Canal. In the 1800s two more bridges, the Ponte degli Scalzi and the Ponte dell’Accademia, were built. There’s a nice little history of the Rialto Bridge on Wikipedia.

During the long period of construction, Calatrava's bridge project went though numerous structural changes because of the mechanical instability of the structure, and the excessive weight of the bridge which would cause the bank of the canal to fail. Over 10 years the project was inspected by at least eight different consultants, and the cost grew to more than three times original projections.

Santiago Calatrava Valls (b 1951) is an internationally recognized, award-winning Spanish architect, sculptor and structural engineer. His early career was dedicated largely to bridges and train stations, and his style has been heralded as bridging the division between structural engineering and architecture. Calatrava is currently designing the future train station at Ground Zero in New York City. He has also designed three bridges that will eventually span the Trinity River in Dallas. Construction of the first bridge, named after donor Margaret Hunt Hill, has been repeatedly delayed due to – once again — high costs. If and when completed, Dallas will join the Dutch county of Haarlemmermeer in having three Calatrava bridges.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Special Exhibits: Dali in Istanbul / El Greco in Zaragoza

I’ve learned to scan my art-related news sources super-quickly — otherwise I get sucked into daydreaming about traveling hither and yon to experience all the great art the world has to offer!

I've struck upon an excuse to pause in my scanning, when something grabs my interest, to pass it along in this blog to the traveling art-afficionados among you who might be in the enviable position to actually be able to hie yourselves hither!

Istanbul - Istanbul’s Sakip Sabanci Museum will host a huge modern art exhibition of 270 works by the late Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali, from September 19 until January 19.

With 33 oil paintings, 113 sketches and 123 graphics, it will be the largest ever mounted by the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation outside the artist’s Catalan hometown of Figueres.

In 2005 and 2006 a major exhibition of works by another Spanish painter, Pablo Picasso, broke all records for a Turkish gallery, attracting a quarter of a million art lovers, so this show opens with high expectations for another blockbuster.

While you’re there be sure to check out the Museum’s permanent collection, which includes early Turkish painting as well as the works of foreign artists who worked in Istanbul during the later years of the Ottoman Empire; 500 years of the art of Ottoman calligraphy; and exhibited in the garden of the Museum, archaeological stone pieces of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras.

Zaragoza - Last week an exhibition “El Greco. Toledo 1900″ opened in the recently renovated Paraninfo Building of the University of Zaragoza until November 30.
The exhibition of 27 canvases produced by El Greco and his workshop, is a gathering of works which have hung in different public and private collections in the city of Toledo. Among the canvases is a group of portraits of the Covarrubias brothers, sons of the architect who designed the Cathedral in Toledo.

Admission to the exhibit is free. The open hours are Monday through Saturday 10am – 2pm and 5pm - 9pm (only 5pm - 9pm on Fri Sept 19); Sunday and holidays from 10am to 2pm.

From the Art Daily Newsletter: “El Greco was born in Crete, which was at that time part of the Republic of Venice, and the centre of Post-Byzantine art. He trained and became a master within that tradition before travelling at age 26 to Venice, as other Greek artists had done. In 1570 he moved to Rome, where he opened a workshop and executed a series of works. During his stay in Italy, El Greco enriched his style with elements of Mannerism and of the Venetian Renaissance. In 1577 he moved to Toledo, Spain, where he lived and worked until his death. In Toledo, El Greco received several major commissions and produced his best known paintings.

“El Greco’s dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century. El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation, marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western painting. ”