Art gives me great pleasure. Especially when I have the context that leads to fuller appreciation. My travels are geared to what art is where. In this blog I share art-related items that intrigue me. Perhaps they will intrigue you, too!
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 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
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
New operating hours and parking fees
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Grand Canal Gets 4th Bridge, Finally
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 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!
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.
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.
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. ”