Sunday, December 13, 2009

Once in a Lifetime

Thomas Hoving died on Thursday. Hoving was the colorful and controversial director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from 1967 to 1977, and was known as – if not the inventor of -- certainly the champion of the Blockbuster Exhibit. His idea was to bring to us -- through a temporary exhibition -- art that we would have a very hard time seeing on our own.

On Friday I heard part of the re-broadcast of a 1993 NPR interview with Hoving. In part of the interview he talked about how the day of the blockbuster exhibit is over.

He said, “They’re not really blockbusters anymore ... They SAY they are, but … there’d be a great show of Caravaggio in which there are three Caravaggios and the rest are followers. Art prices have risen to such ridiculously astronomical heights that nobody can afford the cost of insurance and other things to bring the works of you-name-it into one place any more … it’s virtually impossible to do … people are unwilling to lend anymore, and it’s too costly.”

Interesting that he used Caravaggio as his example back in 1993 … because today I learned about an upcoming Caravaggio exhibition that sure sounds like a blockbuster to me!

Between February 18 and June 13, 2010, Caravaggio 's entire career will be on view at Rome’s Scuderie del Quirinale. WOW!

In honor of the 400th anniversary of the death of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the show will bring together masterpieces from museums around the world. These include the two versions of the Supper at Emmaus, on loan from the National Gallery in London and Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera; The Musicians from Hoving’s own Metropolitan Museum, Bacchus from the Uffizi, Boy with Lute from the Hermitage in St Petersburg; Amor Omnia Vincit from Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie; the three versions of Saint John the Baptist, from the Capitoline Museums and the Galleria Corsini in Rome, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City.

Even some works which are rarely loaned out will be included: The Deposition from the Vatican Museums, The Annunciation from the Museum of Nancy (which was restored for the occasion); and The Crowning of Thorns from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.


Almost the entirety of Caravaggio’s artistic production will be on view in Rome: the paintings brought together for the exhibition, plus, of course, the numerous Caravaggios that are on view in Rome’s churches, still displayed in the chapels for which they were originally commissioned.

This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for art pilgrims to experience a near-complete Caravaggio anthology gathered in one place.

Did I already say “WOW”?

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