Posts Tagged ‘French painting

22
May
17

Exhibition: ‘Monet’ at the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Switzerland

Exhibition dates: 22nd January – 28th May 2017

 

Underlying these “impressions” of light, shadow and reflection is structure. Perceiving the spaces in between things as things… means that you need to define the original things as a first point of call. Order/chaos, pattern/randomness, harmony/discord. One does not exist without the other.

Grounding all of Monet’s work is an intrinsic understanding of the structure of the world.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Fondation Beyeler for allowing me to publish the images in the posting. Please click on the images for a larger version of the art.

 

 

“The world’s appearance would be shaken if we succeeded in perceiving the spaces in between things as things.”

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Maurice Merleau-Ponty

 

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'The Customhouse' 1882

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
The Customhouse
1882
Oil on canvas
61 x 75 cm
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Annie Swan Coburn, 1934
Photo: Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'View of Bordighera' 1884

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
View of Bordighera
1884
Oil on canvas
66 x 81.8 cm
The Armand Hammer Collection, Schenkung der Armand Hammer Foundation, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'Vagues a la Manneporte' c. 1885

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Vagues a la Manneporte (Waves at Manneporte)
c. 1885
Oil on canvas

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'Rocks at Belle-Île, Port-Domois' 1886

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Rocks at Belle-Île, Port-Domois
1886
Oil on canvas
81.3 x 64.8 cm
Cincinnati Art Museum, Fanny Bryce Lehmer Endowment and The Edwin and Virginia Irwin Memorial, 1985
Photo: Bridgeman Images

 

 

In the year of its 20th birthday, the Fondation Beyeler is devoting an exhibition to Claude Monet, one of the most important artists in its collection. Selected aspects of Monet’s oeuvre will be presented in a distilled overview. By concentrating on his work between 1880 and the beginning of the 20th century, with a forward gaze to his late paintings, the show will reveal a fresh and sometimes unexpected facet of the pictorial magician, who still influences our visual experiencing of nature and landscape today. The leitmotif of the “Monet” exhibition will be light, shadow, and reflection as well as the constantly evolving way in which Monet treated them. It will be a celebration of light and colours. Monet’s famed pictorial worlds – his Mediterranean landscapes, wild Atlantic coastal scenes, various locations places along the course of the River Seine, his flower meadows, haystacks, cathedrals and fog-shrouded bridges – are the exhibition’s focal points.

In his paintings, Monet experimented with the changing play of light and colours in the course of the day and the seasons. He conjured up magical moods through reflections and shade. Claude Monet was a great pioneer, who found the key to the secret garden of modern painting, and opened everyone’s eyes to a new way of seeing the world. The exhibition will show 62 paintings from leading museums in Europe, the USA and Japan, including the Musée d’Orsay, Paris; the Metropolitan Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Art, Boston and the Tate, London. 15 paintings from various private collections that are seen extremely rarely and that have not been shown in the context of a Monet exhibition for many years will be special highlights of the show.

 

Light, shadow, and reflection

Following the death of his wife in 1879, Monet embarked on a phase of reorientation. His time as a pioneer of Impressionism was over; while by no means generally acknowledged as an artist, he was beginning to become more independent financially thanks to the help of his dealer, as is documented by his frequent journeys. Through them, he was, for example, first able to concern himself with Mediterranean light, which provided new impulses for his paintings. His art became more personal, moving away from a strictly Impressionist style.

Above all, however, Monet seems to have increasingly turned painting itself into the theme of his paintings. His comment, as passed down by his stepson Jean Hoschedé, that, for him, the motif was of secondary importance to what happened between him and the motif, should be seen in this light. Monet’s reflections on paintings should be interpreted in two ways. The repetition of his motifs through reflections, which reach their zenith and conclusion in his paintings of the reflections in his water-lily ponds, can also be seen as a continuous reflecting on the potential of painting, which is conveyed through the representation and repetition of a motif on a canvas.

Monet’s representations of shade are another way in which he represented the potential of painting. They are both the imitation and the reverse side of the motif, and their abstract form gives the painting a structure that seems to question the mere copying of the motif. This led to the situation in which Wassily Kandinsky, on the occasion of his famous encounter with Monet’s painting of a haystack seen against the light (Kunsthaus Zurich and in the exhibition), did not recognize the subject for what it was: the painting itself had taken on far greater meaning that the representation of a traditional motif.

 

Monet’s Pictorial Worlds

The exhibition is a journey through Monet’s pictorial worlds. It is arranged according to different themes. The large first room in the exhibition is devoted to Monet’s numerous and diverse representations of the River Seine. One of the most notable exhibits is his rarely shown portrait of his partner and subsequent wife Alice Hoschedé, sitting in the garden in Vetheuil directly on the Seine.

The next room celebrates Monet’s representation of trees: a subtle tribute to Ernst Beyeler, who devoted an entire exhibition to the theme of trees in 1998. Inspired by coloured Japanese woodcuts, Monet repeatedly returned to the motif of trees in different lights, their form, and the shade they cast. Trees often give his paintings a geometric structure, as is particularly obvious in his series.

The luminous colours of the Mediterranean are conveyed by a group of canvases Monet painted in the 1880s. In a letter written at that time, he spoke of the “fairytale light” he had discovered in the South.

In 1886 Monet wrote to Alice Hoschedé that he was “crazy about the sea”. A large section of the exhibition is devoted to the coasts of Normandy and the island Belle-Île as well as to the ever-changing light by the sea. It includes a fascinating sequence of different views of a customs official’s cottage on a cliff that lies in brilliant sunlight at times and in the shade at others. On closer examination, the shade seems to have been created out of myriad colours.

Monet’s paintings of early-morning views of the Seine radiate contemplative peace: the painted motif is repeated as a painted reflection in such a way that the distinction between painted reality and its painted reflection seems to disappear in the rising mist. The entire motif is repeated as a reflection. There is no longer any clear-cut differentiation between the top and bottom parts of the painting, which could equally well be hung upside down. In other words, the convention about how paintings ought to be viewed is abandoned and viewers are left to make their own decision. It is as if Monet sought to convey the constant flux (panta rhei) that is such a fundamental characteristic of nature, capturing not only the way light changes from night to day but also the constant merging of two water courses.

Monet loved London. He sought refuge in the city during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71. As a successful and already well known painter, he went back there at the turn of the century, painting famous views of Waterloo and Charing Cross Bridge as well as of the Houses of Parliament in different lights, particularly in the fog, which turns all forms into mysterious silhouettes. A tribute not only Monet’s famous hero/forerunner William Turner, but also to the world power of Great Britain with its Parliament and the bridges it built through trade.

Monet’s late work consists almost exclusively of paintings of his garden and the reflections in his waterlily ponds, of which the Beyeler Collection owns some outstanding examples. The exhibition’s last room contains a selection of paintings of Monet’s garden in Giverny.

Press release from the Fondation Beyeler

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'The Terrace at Vétheuil' 1881

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
The Terrace at Vétheuil
1881
Oil on canvas
81 x 65 cm
Private Collection
Photo: Robert Bayer

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'In the "Norvégienne"' 1887

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
In the “Norvégienne”
1887
Oil on canvas
97.5 x 130.5 cm
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, legacy of Princesse Edmond de Polignac, 1947
Photo: © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'Jean-Pierre Hoschedé and Michel Monet on the Banks of the Epte' c. 1887-90

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Jean-Pierre Hoschedé and Michel Monet on the Banks of the Epte
c. 1887-90
Oil on canvas
76 x 96.5 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Gift of the Saidye Bronfman Foundation, 1995
Photo: © National Gallery of Canada

 

Theodore Robinson. 'Portrait of Monet' c. 1888-90

 

Theodore Robinson
Portrait of Monet
c. 1888-90
Cyanotype
24 x 16.8 cm
Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, gift of Mr. Ira Spanierman, 1985
Photo: © Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago / Art Ressource, NY

 

 

Theodore Robinson (1852-1896) was an American painter best known for his Impressionist landscapes. He was one of the first american artists to take up impressionism in the late 1880s, visiting Giverny and developing a close friendship with Claude Monet. Several of his works are considered masterpieces of American Impressionism.

An early exponent of American Impressionism, Theodore Robinson made a number of visits to France, between the years 1876 and 1892, and became a close friend of Claude Monet, whom he visited at Giverny. Paradoxically, despite his willingness to explore a new type of modern art, his particular style of Impressionism was relatively conservative. Even so, several of his paintings are considered to be masterpieces of American art in the Impressionist style. Best known for his landscape painting, he was also noted for his genre painting of village and farm life, as well as his Connecticut boat scenes. His famous works include: By the River (1887, Private Collection), La Vachere (1888, Smithsonian American Art Museum), La Debacle (1892, Scripps College, Claremont) and Union Square (1895, New Britain Museum of American Art, Conn). Shortly before his premature death from an acute asthma attack, he wrote in-depth articles on the Barbizon painter Camille Corot (1796-1875) and his friend Claude Monet (1840-1926).

 

Unknown photographer. 'Portrait of Theodore Robinson' Nd

 

Unknown photographer
Portrait of Theodore Robinson
Nd

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'Poplars on the Banks of the Epte' 1891

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Poplars on the Banks of the Epte
1891
Oil on canvas
92,4 x 73.7 cm
Tate, Presented by the Art Fund 1926
Photo: © Tate, London 2016

 

 

The Travels of Monsieur Monet: A Geographical Survey

Hannah Rocchi

 

Le Havre

Oscar-Claude Monet was born in Paris on November 14, 1840, the son of Claude-Alphonse, a commercial officer, and Louise-Justine Aubrée. From 1845 on he grew up in the port city of Le Havre in Normandy, his father having found employment in the trading house of his brother-in-law, Jacques Lecadre. The Lecadres owned a house three kilometres away in the little fishing village of Sainte-Adresse, which as a burgeoning bathing resort was much loved by the Monets. Claude attended the local high school beginning in 1851 and there received his first drawing lessons. His earliest surviving sketches dating from 1856 show caricatures of his teachers and the landscapes of Le Havre. When Monet’s mother died, in 1857, Claude and his elder brother, Léon, moved in with their aunt, Marie-Jeanne Lecadre, who would become very important to him and support him in his pursuit of an artistic career. As an amateur painter with a studio of her own, she had connections to local artists and made sure that her nephew could continue his drawing lessons in Le Havre. Monet’s caricatures soon attracted notice and were exhibited at the local stationer’s, Gravier, who also sold paints and frames. This brought his work to the attention of Eugène Boudin, a former partner in the business, who became Monet’s new teacher.

Boudin invited the young Monet to join him on plein air painting expeditions around Le Havre, an experience that made a lasting impression on his pupil. Monet twice applied for a municipal scholarship, but was turned down both times. Despite moving to Paris to take painting lessons there in 1859, Monet repeatedly returned to Le Havre, including in 1862, when after a year of military service in Algeria he had to return to France on grounds of poor health. Later that year he was discharged from military service thanks to the replacement fee paid by his aunt. It was in the summer of that year that he met the Dutch painter Johan Barthold Jongkind and claimed to have found in him his “true teacher.” He also spent the months May to November 1864 painting landscapes in and around Le Havre. His lover and future wife, Camille Doncieux, gave birth to their first child, Jean-Armand- Claude Monet, in Paris in 1867; yet, urged by his father, who was against the relationship, to leave Paris, the painter spent the summer without them, painting seascapes, gardens, figural compositions, and regattas in Sainte-Adresse. A year later he won a silver medal at the Le Havre art show. After the death of his aunt, in 1870, followed by that of his father just a year later, his visits to Le Havre became less frequent. At the same time, he was drawn more to the towns further up the Normandy coast, to Étretat, Fécamp, and Pourville, where he found even more impressive subjects for paintings.

 

Paris

Monet, who was born in Paris, returned to the capital in the spring of 1859 to visit the Salon and take painting lessons. During his stays in “chaotic Paris” he incurred numerous expenses, which he was able to defray thanks only to the support of his father and his aunt. Instead of enrolling at the atelier of the painter Thomas Couture for the preparatory course for admission to the École des Beaux-Arts, he chose the academy of Charles Suisse, where he probably met Camille Pissarro. After his discharge from the army in 1862, Monet returned to Paris and there joined the studio of the Swiss history painter Charles Gleyre, where he made the acquaintance of Alfred Sisley, Frédéric Bazille, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Two years later, when Gleyre ran into financial difficulties and had to close his studio, Monet’s father provided him with the funds he needed to rent a studio together with Bazille on the rue de Furstenberg. Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, and even Paul Cézanne were all regular visitors there. Monet was experimenting with figural paintings at the time, including his large Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1865-66). When their money troubles came to a head in January 1866, Monet and Bazille had no choice but to relinquish their shared space. Monet then rented a small studio of his own on the place Pigalle, and it was there that he engaged Camille Doncieux, the woman he would marry in 1870, to sit for him. His painting of the nineteen-year-old Camille (Camille, or La Femme à la robe verte, 1866), was accepted for the Salon and not only won fulsome praise from the critic Émile Zola, but also aroused the interest of Édouard Manet.

Together with other Impressionists, Monet founded the Société anonyme coopérative des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc., whose first group show was held in the studio of the photographer Nadar on the boulevard des Capucines in Paris in 1874. Among the works exhibited was Monet’s work Impression, soleil levant, painted in Le Havre in 1872. The show was savaged by the critics, who in a play on the title of Monet’s painting derided it as an “exhibition of impressionists.” Monet tended to find his subjects in the suburbs of Paris rather than in the capital itself, one exception being Saint-Lazare railway station, which he captured on several canvases in 1877. When Monet moved to Vétheuil, in 1878, he held onto a small studio in Paris, even if he used it mainly as a showroom for art dealers and potential collectors. When Monet’s patron Ernest Hoschedé declared bankruptcy, in 1877, he had no choice but to sell his large collection of works by the Impressionists a year later. It was through the sale of Hoschedé’s paintings that Monet met the collector and gallerist Georges Petit, who in the world of Impressionism would soon come to rival the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. In 1882 Durand-Ruel himself commissioned Monet with several still lifes for his home on the rue de Rome. In 1914, in Giverny, Monet began work on his last major project, the famous Grandes Décorations, and after his death, in 1927, twenty-two of these large-format paintings of water lilies were installed in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris.

 

The Normandy coast

Although his career necessitated ever more frequent trips to Paris, in 1868 Monet wanted to make a home for himself, his partner Camille Doncieux, and their son, Jean, in Normandy. He wrote to Bazille that he could not imagine spending longer than a month at a time in Paris and that whatever he might paint on the coast of Normandy would be very different from anything produced in the French capital. The cliffs near Fécamp that he painted in early 1881 show how his style of painting was already beginning to change, how his once idyllic landscapes were becoming wilder. Monet spent a few months in Poissy near Paris beginning in December of that year, but found the village uninspiring and returned to the coast, this time to the fishing village of Pourville. This was a landscape of rugged cliffs with several subjects of interest to him, among them the customs officer’s house near Varengeville. Furthermore, the beaches were deserted in the winter months, making them ideal for painting. Monet began several new series, sometimes working on eight canvases at once so that he needed help transporting his equipment and canvases from one place to another.

In the 1880s, when sales of his paintings began to pick up and his financial situation became less dire, Monet was at last able to rent a holiday home in Pourville. His new partner, Alice Hoschedé, and her daughter Blanche, who also painted, often accompanied him on his painting expeditions there, and he received visits from both Durand-Ruel and Renoir. In January 1883 Monet visited the village of Étretat, famed for its precipitous cliffs and arches, and there found several motifs right in front of the hotel. He also sought out remote beaches with views of the Manneporte Arch, which he proceeded to paint in different light conditions, often working on several canvases at once. While painting on a secluded beach on November 27, 1885, Monet miscalculated the incoming tide and was hurled against the face of a cliff by a wave. He told Alice that his brush and painting equipment had fallen into the sea, but that what annoyed him most was that the wave had washed away the canvas he was working on. Monet finished all of his over fifty paintings of Étretat in his studio in Giverny, which by then had become his permanent home.

 

On the Seine: Argenteuil, Vétheuil, and Poissy

On December 21, 1871, Monet rented a house in Argenteuil, a suburb northwest of Paris that allowed him to live in the country but remain within easy reach of the city. Thanks to the sale of several paintings as well as Camille s dowry and inheritance, the Monets were able to employ three servants and Monet himself bought a boat that he converted into a floating studio. Argenteuil became an important center for the Impressionists; Cézanne, Manet, Pissarro, Sisley, and Renoir all visited Monet there. In 1873 Monet met Gustave Caillebotte. One motif that Monet found especially interesting was the railway bridge of Argenteuil. It was destroyed in the Franco-Prussian War but rebuilt soon afterward, making it a symbol of French resilience – and further evidence of Monet’s general interest in bridges. In 1878 the Monets moved to Vétheuil, a little village on the Seine, some sixty kilometers away from Paris. As Monet’s patron Hoschedé was undergoing financial difficulties at the time, he and his wife, Alice, and their six children shared a house with the Monets. Monet’s wife, Camille, had just given birth to their second son, Michel, but was already ill with cervical cancer.

Their financial situation had deteriorated and they were no longer able to pay their servants. As a devout Christian, Alice Hoschedé took it upon herself to ensure that the Monets, who had married in a civil ceremony only, received the blessing of the Church for their union and that Camille Monet was given the last rites. Camille died on September 5, 1879, in Vétheuil and was buried in the cemetery there. The winter of 1879-80 was exceptionally cold and the Seine froze over. On January 5, 1880, the Hoschedé-Monet family awoke to the sound of the ice breaking apart, and Monet spent the next few days painting dozens of impressions of this spectacle. As Ernest Hoschedé mainly resided in Paris and visited his family only occasionally, Monet and Alice lived more or less alone with their children in Vétheuil, and before long they were rumoured to be having an affair. In 1881 they decided to move again. Monet had been unable to find a suitable school for his son Jean, and Alice was considering whether to return to Ernest in Paris with the children. In the end, however, both Monet and Alice moved to Poissy in December of that year. When Poissy proved uninspiring, however, the two families resumed their quest for the perfect home, which they would find in Giverny in 1883, some seventy kilometers northeast of Paris.

 

On the Mediterranean

In December 1883 Monet accompanied Renoir on a short trip to the Mediterranean. They traveled from Marseille to Genoa and visited Cézanne in L’Estaque. Monet was especially taken with the little town of Bordighera on the Ligurian Riviera and vowed to return there in January 1884, this time without Renoir, in order to paint in peace. The three-week stay originally planned eventually turned into three months, during which Monet explored the region, visited several mountain villages, and admired the wonderful gardens of Francesco Moreno, where to his great delight he was able to paint palms. The colours and new motifs brought Monet close to despair, and he complained to Alice of how difficult it was to paint the landscape as it really looked. Visibly fascinated by the warm light of the Mediterranean, he declared that he would need a palette of diamonds and jewels to capture its féerique (magical) atmosphere. Although in her replies Alice made no secret of her displeasure at the painter’s constant absences, Monet chose to linger in the south and continued the series he had just begun. He also traveled to Cap Martin and to Monte Carlo, painting as he went. In January 1888 he painted several views of Antibes.

In late September 1908 he visited Venice – one of only a few trips undertaken together with Alice – where he was especially impressed by the Grand Canal, the Doge’s Palace, and the church of San Giorgio Maggiore. When the pair left Venice again, in December 1908, Monet consoled himself with the thought that he would return there the following year, although he already had an inkling that that was “a forlorn hope.” Even so, the 1912 Claude Monet: Venise exhibition, comprising twenty-nine views of Venice and held at the Galerie Bernheim- Jeune, was a great success.

 

Rouen

Léon Monet, who ran the Rouen branch of a Swiss chemical company, was on good terms with his younger brother, Claude. Jean, the elder of Monet’s two sons, would later work for Léon, providing the painter with another good reason for visiting Rouen. It was probably at his brother’s instigation that Monet took part in the 23ème Exposition municipale des Beaux-Arts, in Rouen in March 1872. Monet discovered his fascination with the Gothic towers of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, the cathedral in Rouen, which would become such a major preoccupation of his later years. He had planned to return to Rouen for longer painting projects as early as the spring of 1891, but in the end was too busy expanding his garden in Giverny to leave. In February 1892, however, he was offered the use of an empty apartment that looked out onto the cathedral’s west façade. In March of that year he took lodgings above a boutique that offered a similar view but from a slightly different angle. While in Rouen he worked on nine canvases at the same time, painting from early morning to late evening. The intensity was not without consequences, and Monet was afflicted by nightmares in which the cathedral – “it seemed to be blue, pink, or yellow” – came crashing down on top of him. The constantly changing light drove Monet almost to despair, and by 1893 he was working on up to fourteen canvases at once. In early 1894 he began preparing an exhibition of his cathedral paintings, but was plagued by doubts over whether he was up to the task. Twenty paintings in the series were to be exhibited as a solo show at the gallery of his art dealer, Durand-Ruel, in 1895. Believing that this might be an opportunity to raise his market value, he decided to demand 15,000 francs per painting. Durand-Ruel was so appalled that he refused to be involved in the actual sales and left the negotiations to the painter himself. Most of the works were well received in the press and would meet with acclaim in other exhibitions, too. Although Monet never received 15,000 francs for his cathedrals during his lifetime, the French state did at least pay 10,500 francs for the one that it bought for the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris in 1907.

 

London

On July 19, 1870, Napoléon III declared war on Prussia. Fearful of being conscripted, Monet fled to London at the beginning of October that year, taking Camille and their son Jean with him. There he met Paul Durand-Ruel, who was likewise a refugee and would become Monet’s most important art dealer. Durand-Ruel’s first documented sale of a Monet work was in May 1871. Together with Pissarro, Monet visited London’s many museums and there admired the works of Joseph Mallord William Turner and John Constable. When the war ended in late May 1871, Monet returned to France via the Netherlands. Although he would return to London on several occasions in the following years, his stays would invariably be brief and motivated mainly by visits to fellow painters. His desire to paint various views of the Thames swathed in fog nevertheless comes up in several letters. When his youngest son, Michel, went to London to study, Monet, Alice, and Alice’s daughter Germaine paid him a visit there in September 1899. They stayed at the luxurious Savoy Hotel, which has excellent views of the Thames. Monet was thus able to spend a whole month painting Charing Cross Bridge to excess, dedicating himself intensively to Waterloo Bridge later on.

He would return to London in the next two years, and in 1900 set up his easel in a room in St. Thomas’ Hospital that commanded an especially fine view of Westminster. While there, Monet received a visit from Georges Clemenceau, a personal friend of his and later an important French statesman, through whose good offices he was granted permission to paint in the Tower of London – a dispensation he never made use of. The thick fog that he woke up to toward the end of his stay in 1901 was grounds enough for him to postpone his departure. Many of the canvases begun in London were actually finished back in Monet’s studio in Giverny. There he also began to destroy some of them, admitting to Durand-Ruel that “my mistake is to try to improve them.” An exhibition of selected London paintings held in Paris at Durand-Ruel’s in May 1904 met with great acclaim.

 

Giverny

Monet signed a lease for a house with a plot of land in Giverny and moved in on April 29, 1883, bought it in 1890, and lived there until his death, for over forty years all told. Alice and her children moved in the very next day after the lease was signed. The village near the Seine is not far from Vernon, which is where the older children went to school. The two-story house was big enough to accommodate the large family, and the barn was readily converted into a painting studio. In the first summer there, Monet built a boathouse so that he could explore his environs in search of suitable motifs by boat. He also began planting a garden, which soon became an enduring passion. He painted views of the church of Vernon as well as his first fields with grain stacks. It was on the tiny Île aux Orties, which Monet bought as a place to moor his boats, that he painted Alice’s daughter Suzanne with a parasol (Essai de figure en plein-air: Femme à l’obrelle, 1886). Apart from his French painter friends, he was visited by both the American painter John Singer Sargent (in 1885 and 1887) and Georges Clemenceau, the former of whom painted both Monet and Blanche Hoschedé at work. The first grain stacks began to appear in late 1888. Monet traveled much less after 1890 and tended to confine himself to just a few motifs that he painted in series. He clearly felt at home in Giverny and lavished a great amount of time (and money) on the cultivation of his garden there, which became a favourite preoccupation. Many of his motifs were now to be found on his doorstep, among them the aforementioned grain stacks, which in 1890-91 he painted no fewer than twenty-five times in varying light. Ernest Hoschedé died in Paris in 1891 with his wife, Alice, at his side. He was buried in Giverny. In the spring of 1891 Monet began painting a series of a row of poplars on the Epte River two kilometers away from his home, which he visited in his studio boat. When the poplars came up for auction in August of that year, he paid the timber merchant to leave them standing until he had finished painting them.

A little less than a year later Monet and Alice married in Giverny. Work on their property continued, and in early 1893 Monet purchased the adjoining plot with the aim of creating a water lily pond. In the summer of 1896 Monet began work on his Matinée sur la Seine series, for which he set off for work in his boat at half past three in the morning. In 1899 he had a second studio built specifically for the purpose of finishing paintings begun en plein air, while the first studio, being larger, would henceforth serve mainly as a showroom. Water lilies were becoming an increasingly important subject by now, and in 1901 he purchased land again, to enlarge his pond. He also had a third studio built to allow him to commence work on the monumental water lily wall panels (the Grandes Décorations). From 1909 on, Monet’s sight deteriorated to such an extent that he had to undergo various operations, notwithstanding his fears that these might change his perception of colour. Alice fell ill with a rare form of leukaemia and died in 1911, with a distraught Monet by her side. Following the death of his son Jean, in 1914, Blanche, who was both Monet’s stepdaughter and daughter-in-law, moved into the house at Giverny and cared for the deeply grieved artist. Yet he continued painting, right to the end of his days, finding most of his motifs in his own garden. It was also in Giverny that Monet, who died of lung cancer on December 5, 1926, would find his final resting place. He was buried in the same grave as his son Jean (1914), his wife Alice (1911), her first husband, Ernest Hoschedé (1891), and their daughters Suzanne (1899) and Marthe (1925).

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The present chronology is based on the accounts provided in Charles F. Stuckey, “Chronology,” in Claude Monet 1840-1926, exh. cat. The Art Institute of Chicago (London and Chicago, 1995), p. 185–266; and quotations cited from the artist’s letters published in Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné (Paris and Lausanne, 1974-91), vols. 1-5.

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'Sunset on the Seine in Winter' 1880

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Sunset on the Seine in Winter
1880
Oil on canvas
60.6 x 81.1 cm
Pola Museum of Art, Pola Art Foundation

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'Morning on the Seine' 1897

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Morning on the Seine
1897
Oil on canvas
89.9 x 92.7 cm
The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933
Photo: © The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY / Scala, Florence

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'Charing Cross Bridge: Fog on the Thames' 1903

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Charing Cross Bridge: Fog on the Thames
1903
Oil on canvas
73.7 x 92.4 cm
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Donation of Mrs. Henry Lyman, 1979
Photo: Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'Houses of Parliament, Stormy Sky' 1904

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Houses of Parliament, Stormy Sky
1904
Oil on canvas
81 x 92 cm
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, legs de Maurice Masson, 1949
Photo: © RMN-Grand Palais / René-Gabriel Ojéda

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'Île aux Orties near Vernon' 1897

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Île aux Orties near Vernon
1897
Oil on canvas
73.3 x 92.7 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. McVeigh, 1960
Photo: © bpk / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'Meadow at Giverny, Autumn Effect' 1886

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Meadow at Giverny, Autumn Effect
1886
Oil on canvas
92.1 x 81.6 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection
Photo: © 2017 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926) 'Water-Lilies' 1916-1919

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Water-Lilies
1916-1919
Oil on canvas
200 x 180 cm
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen / Basel, Beyeler Collection
Photo: Robert Bayer
The restoration of this art work is supported by the BNP Paribas Swiss Fondation

 

 

Fondation Beyeler
Beyeler Museum AG
Baselstrasse 77, CH-4125
Riehen, Switzerland

Opening hours:
10 am – 6 pm daily, Wednesdays until 8 pm

Fondation Beyeler website

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13
Jan
11

Exhibition: Pierre Soulages at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin

Exhibition dates: 2nd October 2010 – 17th January 2011

 

Pierre Soulages. 'Brou de noix sur papier' 1946

 

Pierre Soulages (French, b. 1919)
Brou de noix sur papier
1946
48 x 62,5 cm
Private collection
© Photo: DR, Archive Soulages / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2010

 

 

The light of beyond black! Nothing more really needs to be said …

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Pierre Soulages. 'Peinture 324 x 181 cm, 17 novembre 2008'

 

Pierre Soulages (French, b. 1919)
Peinture 324 x 181 cm, 17 novembre 2008
Acrylic on canvas
Private collection
© Photo: George Poncet, Archive Soulages / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2010

 

Pierre Soulages. 'Peinture; 243 x 181 cm; 26 juin 1999'

 

Pierre Soulages (French, b. 1919)
Peinture; 243 x 181 cm; 26 juin 1999
Oil on canvas
Private Collection
© VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2010

 

Pierre Soulages. 'Peinture; 260 x 202 cm; 19 juin 1963'

 

Pierre Soulages (French, b. 1919)
Peinture; 260 x 202 cm; 19 juin 1963
Oil on canvas
Collection Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Diffusion RMN
© VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2010

 

 

“Pierre Soulages is one of the world’s foremost abstract painters of recent decades. On the occasion of his 90th birthday he is being honoured by a retrospective in the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Starting on 2 October 2010 Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau will be showing this exhibition in an altered form.

Over 70 pictures of all his creative periods, from the works with walnut stain (1947 to 1949) to the radically black paintings of recent years measuring up three metres high, are being shown, many of them for the first time in Germany. They illustrate the dynamic artistic development of this most famous of contemporary French artists.

Born on 24 December 1919 in Rodez, a small town located to the north of and roughly equidistant from Toulouse und Montpellier, Pierre Soulages refused to train at the “Ecole nationale superieure des beaux arts” in Paris, being out of sympathy with what he saw as that institution’s retrograde approach to art. Instead he spent the year 1939 visiting exhibitions and familiarising himself with the works of Picasso and Cézanne. But that same year he left Paris and headed south to Montpellier to attend the “Ecole des beaux arts” there. At that time he made the acquaintance of Sonia Delaunay, who showed him catalogues containing what those in power at that time considered to be “degenerate art”. For Soulages this was the justification for working as an abstract artist. After the war he moved to Paris, where he successfully exhibited in the Salon of the Surindépendants. His acquaintanceship with Francis Picabia and Hans Hartung in 1947, and his familiarity with the American scene as represented by such artists as Marc Rothko, Robert Motherwell and Wilhelm de Kooning, show how rapidly he was gaining an international reputation. In 1948, three years after the end of the Second World War, he took part in the then pioneering exhibition “French Abstract Painting”, which was shown in Stuttgart, Hamburg and Düsseldorf. He was the youngest of a group of masters of abstract art, including such names as Kupka, Doméla and Herbin. His participation in Documenta I, II and III brought him recognition in artistic and critical circles.

His wayward style, and more specifically his almost exclusive reliance on the colour black, give him a unique place in the world of art, although the American Robert Motherwell produced similar results in some of his works. But only Soulages consistently dedicated his works to the colour black over a period of decades, before finally turning to light.

His “outrenoir”, a term coined by Soulages for the use of black in his work, swallows up light, especially in his works on paper, achieving a particular sense of depth. “Outrenoir”, which may be translated as “the other side of black”, or “beyond black”, does not exclude, but draws the observer into the picture, inducing him to make a close and precise examination of the work by holding his gaze.

Like many painters, Pierre Soulages is fascinated by the phenomenon of light. He seeks obsessively for ways of letting light operate in the colour black. Works in which black is accompanied by a second colour such as blue or red remain the exception.

His individual style, characterised by strong bold lines and occasional calligraphic elements, is an important organising principle in his works. “I found small brushes only for the exact work, as was necessary and important in the art of the 19th century and earlier – Picasso himself worked with fine brushes in his early works. But for me there was no question of that. I wanted to try something quite different, so I went into a paint shop in Paris and bought myself broad brushes and rollers of the kind used for house-painting.” By using this technique in combination with a dark walnut stain known as “de noix” he created his first masterpieces, one of which was bought by the Museum of Modern Art in New York as early as 1948.

His paintings are to be found in the collections of over 100 museums worldwide, such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Australian National Gallery, Canberra; the Hermitage, St. Petersburg; the Musée national d’Art moderne, Paris; the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Valencia; the Museum of Modern Art, Toyama; the Tate Gallery, London; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Musée d’Art contemporain, Montréal, to name but a few.

Press release from the Martin-Gropius-Bau website [Online] Cited 11/01/2011 no longer available online

 

Pierre Soulages. 'Peinture; 324 x 362 cm; 1985'

 

Pierre Soulages (French, b. 1919)
Peinture; 324 x 362 cm; 1985
Polyptique C (4 elements 81 x 362 cm)
Oil on canvas
Collection Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Diffusion RMN
© VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2010

 

Pierre Soulages. 'Peinture 202 x 327 cm, 17 janvier 1970'

 

Pierre Soulages (French, b. 1919)
Peinture 202 x 327 cm, 17 janvier 1970
Private collection
© Photo: François Walch, Archive Soulages / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2010

 

Pierre Soulages. 'Peinture 220 x 366 cm, 14 mai 1968'

 

Pierre Soulages (French, b. 1919)
Peinture 220 x 366 cm, 14 mai 1968
Collection Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Diffusion RMN
© VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2010

 

Pierre Soulages. 'Peinture 222 x 314 cm, 24 février 2008'

 

Pierre Soulages (French, b. 1919)
Peinture 222 x 314 cm, 24 février 2008
Acrylic on canvas
Private collection
© Photo: Georges Poncet, Archive Soulages / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2010

 

 

Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin
Niederkirchnerstraße 7
Corner Stresemannstr. 110
10963 Berlin
Phone: +49 (0)30 254 86-0

Opening hours:
Wednesday to Monday 10 – 20 hrs
Tuesday closed

Martin-Gropius-Bau website

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09
Dec
10

Exhibition: ‘Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 10th December 2010 – 10th April 2011

 

Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine' at the National Gallery of Victoria installation photograph

 

Woman looking at Gustave Moreau’s Jupiter and Europa 1868
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

A small but perfectly formed exhibition of the works of the French Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau at the National Gallery of Victoria. The delight is in the detail: the dark, intense neo-classical paintings on biblical and mythological themes reward close scrutiny and contemplation. I purposefully chose to photograph the details at the media launch for the joys they reveal: the flashes of purple, red and turquoise paint to the right in Delilah (Nd, see below) and the almost etched quality of the columns and their symbols behind Salomé and John the Baptist’s head in The Apparition (1875, see below). Please ENLARGE the photographs by clicking on them to see the detail.

Other important events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the National Gallery of Victoria next year include major exhibitions such as ManStyle (March – October / November 2011 at both St Kilda Road and Federation Square venues) that will feature an exploration of the dandy in men’s fashion from the 18th century to the present day. I have lent the NGV a 1940s suit and tie from my collection for the exhibition so I am excited to see how they display. Also feted for next year is the major Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition Vienna: Arts & Design: Klimt, Schiele, Hoffmann, Loos (June – October 2011) as well as a large Eugene von Guérard: Nature Revealed exhibition (April – August 2011) and several photographic exhibitions including the intriguing Deep Water (April – September 2011) that will include photographs of water and its environment divided into fresh and saltwater sections.

The best news is the creation of two new contemporary exhibiting spaces – one in St Kilda Road (the old gallery that housed Greecian pottery on the ground floor) and the former restaurant next to the bookshop in the atrium of Federation Square. Both spaces will have their own entry, one off the atrium and the other off the space near the spire allowing them to be open late at night without the larger gallery being open and they will exhibition small contemporary exhibitions. An excellent proactive idea!

As always many thankx to Sue Coffey, Alison Murray, Jemma Altmeier and the media team at the NGV for their help and to the curator of the exhibition Dr Ted Gott for his friendship and erudite conversation.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All photographs © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria. All rights reserved. No reproduction without the permission of the author and the National Gallery of Victoria.

 

 

Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine' at the National Gallery of Victoria installation photograph

 

Woman looking at Gustave Moreau’s Jupiter and Europa 1868
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gustave Moreau. 'Jupiter and Europa' 1868 (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
Jupiter and Europa (detail)
1868
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gustave Moreau. 'Jupiter and Europa' 1868 (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
Jupiter and Europa (detail)
1868
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

'Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine' at the National Gallery of Victoria installation photograph

 

'Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine' at the National Gallery of Victoria installation photograph

 

Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine at the National Gallery of Victoria installation photographs
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gustave Moreau. 'The Sirens' 1885 (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
The Sirens (detail)
1885
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gustave Moreau. 'The Sirens' 1885 (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
The Sirens (detail)
1885
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gustave Moreau. 'Helen on the Walls of Troy' c. 1870 (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
Helen on the Walls of Troy (detail)
c. 1870
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Be seduced by femmes fatales, goddesses and temptresses of history and legend at the NGV this summer in Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine, the first significant exhibition of Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) to be seen in Australia. The superb craftsmanship of Gustave Moreau will be celebrated with over 100 paintings, watercolours and drawings from the unique and acclaimed Musée Gustave Moreau in Paris. Gerard Vaughan, Director, NGV said this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Australians to see these captivating works by Moreau.

“Visitors will embrace Moreau’s portrayals of familiar historical and mythical characters. From famed femmes fatales including Salomé, Helen of Troy and Lady Macbeth to the rugged depictions of Hercules and the Cyclops, this spectacular exhibition will reveal the many faces of Gustave Moreau.

Moreau’s pictures are amongst the most haunting and mysterious of the entire 19th century, and ironically are incredibly modern.  This is a must see exhibition!” said Dr Vaughan.

Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine will explore the artist’s obsession with the female form, taking visitors on a voyage from classical antiquity and the ancient Far East, to Christianity’s more lurid escapades and epic narratives of the Middle Ages.

Ted Gott, Senior Curator, International Art, NGV said: “Throughout his life Moreau was both entranced by female beauty and captivated by the allure of powerful, even dangerous women from the pages of history and legend, making him a cult figure for today’s younger generation who are spellbound by gothic tales and imagery.

Moreau’s fascination with heroines and queens, goddesses and temptresses were screens through which he could filter his explorations of the key themes of the Eternal Feminine: obsession, dream, luxury, magic, the femme fatale, exoticism and the ideal,” said Dr Gott.

A highlight of the exhibition will be a section devoted to Moreau’s most celebrated and intriguing obsession – the story of Salomé and the beheading of John the Baptist. Salomé is often depicted as an icon of dangerous female seductiveness and in this famous tale, her stepfather Herod requests Salomé to dance for him on his birthday in exchange for anything she desires. Salomé dances and then orders the beheading of John the Baptist who was in prison at the time for criticising the marriage of her mother, Herodias and stepfather Herod.

During his youth, Moreau was obsessed with Italian art of the 14th and 15th centuries, and with narratives drawn from the classical past. This exhibition will feature the tales and tribulations of well known characters from history – both real and mythological – including Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Messalina, Lady Macbeth, Samson and Delilah, Galatea, Sappho and Salomé.

Whilst many of Moreau’s works are filled with mythical female characters, in life he was surrounded by two key female figures: his mother and his girlfriend, Alexandrine Dureux. Moreau lived with his mother until her passing in 1884, while Dureux lived nearby. After Dureux’s death in 1890, Moreau transformed his family home into a museum, creating massive ateliers for the display of more than 5,000 of his own works of art, as well as dedicating rooms to his father, his mother and Alexandrine Dureux. Left to the French nation in Moreau’s will in 1898 and officially opened to the public in 1903, the Musée Gustave Moreau remains one of the world’s most unique and extraordinary single-artist museums.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria website [Online] Cited 07/12/2010 no longer available online

 

Gustave Moreau. 'Delilah' Nd (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
Delilah (detail)
Nd
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

'Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine' at the National Gallery of Victoria installation photograph

 

'Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine' at the National Gallery of Victoria installation photograph

 

Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine at the National Gallery of Victoria installation photographs
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gustave Moreau. 'The Apparition' 1875 (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
The Apparition (detail)
1875
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gustave Moreau. 'The Apparition' 1875 (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
The Apparition (detail)
1875
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gustave Moreau. 'Beheading of John the Baptist' 1870 (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
Beheading of John the Baptist (detail)
1870
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

'Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine' at the National Gallery of Victoria installation photograph

 

Installation photograph Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine at the National Gallery of Victoria with at left, The Unicorns (c. 1885) and Fairy with Griffons (1875) second from right
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gustave Moreau. 'Fairy with Griffons' 1875 (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
Fairy with Griffons (detail)
1875
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gustave Moreau. 'Fairy with Griffons' 1875 (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
Fairy with Griffons (detail)
1875
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gustave Moreau. 'The Unicorns' c. 1885 (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
The Unicorns (detail)
c. 1885
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gustave Moreau. 'The Unicorns' c. 1885 (detail)

 

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
The Unicorns (detail)
c. 1885
Oil on canvas
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

NGV International
180 St Kilda Road

Opening hours:
Daily 10am – 5pm

National Gallery of Victoria website

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06
Sep
10

Exhibition: ‘Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers’ at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Exhibition dates: 20th May – 12th September 2010

 

Yves Klein. 'Hiroshima' c. 1961

 

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Hiroshima
c. 1961
Dry pigment and synthetic resin on paper mounted on canvas
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris

 

 

Space [    ] the final frontier … where silence is golden !

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Many thankx to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. See all the Hirshhorn Flicker photosets of Yves Klein.

 

 

“I am the painter of space. I am not an abstract painter but, on the contrary, a figurative artist, and a realist. Let us be honest, to paint space, I must be in position. I must be in space.”

.
Yves Klein

 

 

Yves Klein. 'Untitled Yellow and Pink Monochrome' 1955

 

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Untitled Yellow and Pink Monochrome
1955
Dry pigment and binder on canvas
22 x 13 1/2 inch
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris

 

Yves Klein. 'La Vent du voyage' (The Wind of the Journey) c. 1961

 

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
La Vent du voyage (The Wind of the Journey)
c. 1961
Dry pigment and synthetic resin on canvas
37 x 29 1/2 inch
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris

 

Yves Klein. 'Le Saut dans le Vide' (Leap into the Void) 1960

 

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Le Saut dans le Vide (Leap into the Void)
1960
Gelatin silver print

 

Yves Klein. 'Untitled Green Monochrome' c. 1954

 

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Untitled Green Monochrome
c. 1954
Pure pigment and binder on paper
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris

 

Yves Klein. 'Architecture de l'air' (Air Architecture) 1961

 

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Architecture de l’air (Air Architecture)
1961
Dry pigment and synthetic resin on paper mounted on canvas
103 x 84 inch
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris

 

 

“One of the 20th century’s most influential artists, Yves Klein (French, b. Nice, 1928; d. Paris, 1962), took the European art scene by storm in a prolific but brief career that lasted only from 1954 to 1962. Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers, on view at the Hirshhorn May 20 through Sept. 12, is the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in the United States since 1982. Co-curated by the Hirshhorn’s deputy director and chief curator Kerry Brougher and Dia Art Foundation director, former chief curator and deputy director at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the exhibition is co-organised by the Hirshhorn and the Walker and developed in full collaboration with the Yves Klein Archives in Paris.

Presenting approximately 200 works, Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers explores the full range of the artist’s body of work and offers an essential overview and examination of a career that marked a key transition in 20th-century art. His work embodied an understanding of art beyond a western conception of modernity, beyond the object and beyond traditional notions of what art can be.

“Klein’s short but intense career is a pivotal moment in contemporary art history,” said Brougher. “His work questioned what art and even society could be in the future, and it provided new pathways leading to pop art, minimalism, conceptual art, installation and performance.”

The exhibition features examples from all of Klein’s major series, from his iconic blue monochromes and Anthropometries to sponge reliefs, Fire Paintings, “air architecture” projects, Cosmogonies and planetary reliefs as well as many works that have rarely been on view. The installation provides insight into the artist’s process and conceptual endeavours through an array of ephemera, including sketches, photographs, letters and writings. Several films, including performances and documentaries, further demonstrate Klein’s creative practice.

“I would like that when people leave the exhibition they leap into a void, leaving behind traditional notions of art and representation, but even more importantly, questioning the notion of materiality and materialism in art as well as in their lives,” said Vergne. “Ultimately, Klein’s lesson is about a different way of being together.”

Numerous objects are on loan directly from the Yves Klein Archives, with additional loans from the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Kunstmuseen Krefeld in Krefeld, Germany, The Menil Collection in Houston, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and a host of international private collections, including a rare loan from the Monastery of Saint Rita in Cascia, Italy.

Klein was an innovator and visionary whose goal was no less than to radically reinvent what art could be in the postwar world. Through a diverse practice, which included painting, sculpture, performance, photography, music, architecture and writing as well as plans for projects in theatre, dance and cinema, he shifted the focus of art from the material to “immaterial sensibility”; he levitated art above the weariness induced by the Second World War, resurrecting its avant-garde tendencies, injecting a new sense of spirituality and opening doors for much that followed in the 1960s and beyond.

Self-identified as “the painter of space,” Klein sought to achieve immaterial sensibility through pure colour, primarily an ultramarine blue of his own invention – International Klein Blue. This exhibition begins by examining Klein’s early explorations of colour with works in pastels, watercolours and more than 15 coloured monochromes created during the mid-to-late 1950s. Several significant blue monochromes, dating from as early as 1955 up through 1961, are on view. Klein further pushed boundaries in his engagement with colour and form by using pure pigment in tandem with unconventional materials, such as natural sponges. The sponge, which Klein incorporated into his practice in the late 1950s, became a metaphor, as its porous surface completely absorbed his signature colour, giving a material presence to the immaterial.

Among Klein’s best-known works are the Anthropometries, begun in 1958. Under the artist’s direction, nude female models were smeared with International Klein Blue paint and used as “living brushes” to make body prints on prepared sheets of paper. Klein wanted to record the body’s physical energy, and the resulting images represent the model’s temporary physical presence. More than an expression of the inner psyche of the artist, these paintings offer one method of giving visual presence to a cosmic, spiritual body, which neither photography nor film can fully capture. Seven works from this series are on view, including People Begin to Fly (1961) from The Menil Collection and Untitled Anthropometry (1960) from the Hirshhorn’s collection, which features the bodies of Klein and his future wife Rotraut Uecker.

In the late 1950s, but most notably in 1961, Klein began to use fire, which he considered “the universal principle of expression,” as part of his creative process. His Fire Paintings, such as Untitled Fire Painting (1961), in which fire either replaced or was combined with paint, embody concepts of process, transformation, creation, destruction, dissolution and elemental cosmology that were so essential throughout his career. The final galleries of the exhibition include examples from Klein’s “air architecture” projects, including drawings, plans and models for architectural spaces, such as fountains and walls, constructed out of natural elements like air, water and fire – elements that were not traditionally associated with architecture.

Klein created what he considered his first artwork when he signed the blue sky above Nice in 1947, making his first attempt to capture the immaterial. In his celebrated 1958 exhibition Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State of Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility, better known as The Void, at Galerie Iris Clert in Paris, Klein went further by emptying the gallery of all artworks and painting the walls white. Among those who attended the renowned exhibition was Albert Camus, who reacted with a notable entry into the visitors’ album: “with the void, full powers.” In his famous Leap into the Void (1960) image by Harry Shunk and Janos Kender, which was published Nov. 27, 1960, in the faux newspaper Dimanche, which he created for the second Avant-Garde Art Festival, Klein is actually depicted leaping into space himself; the accompanying text asserts: “… to paint space, I must be in position. I must be in space.”

Defying the common understanding and definitions of art – from his experiments with architecture made of air to his leap into the void – Klein aimed to rethink the world in spiritual and aesthetic terms. His philosophy was revolutionary and demonstrated his acute grasp of the contemporary moment, from the horror of the Second World War to the promise of space travel. This presentation of his full oeuvre is essential to discern the shift from modern to contemporary practice and to reveal the extent of the artist’s influence.

Press release from the Hirshhorn website [Online] Cited 04/09/2010 no longer available online

 

Yves Klein. 'Lune II' (Moon II), 1961

 

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Lune II (Moon II)
1961
Pure pigment and undetermined binder on plaster
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris

 

Yves Klein. 'Untitled Blue Monochrome' 1959

 

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Untitled Blue Monochrome
1959
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris

 

Yves Klein. 'Untitled Gold Monochrome' 1962

 

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Untitled Gold Monochrome
1962
Gold leaf on wood
© Yves Klein, ADAGP, Paris / SAVA

 

Yves Klein. 'La Rêve du Feu' (The Dream of Fire) c. 1961

 

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
La Rêve du Feu (The Dream of Fire)
c. 1961
Yves Klein, ADAGP, Paris / DACS

 

Harry Shunk and János Kender, photograph of Yves Klein, The Dream of Fire, c. 1961. Artistic action by Yves Klein.

 

Yves Klein. 'Le Silence est d'or' (Silence is Golden) 1960

 

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Le Silence est d’or (Silence is Golden)
1960
Gold leaf on wood
© Yves Klein, ADAGP, Paris / SAVA

 

 

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
The Hirshhorn is located on the National Mall at the corner of 7th Street and Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C.

Opening hours:
Open daily except December 25
10am – 5.30pm

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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