Posts Tagged ‘Italian art

02
Aug
15

Exhibition: ‘Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great’ at NGV International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 31st July – 8th November 2015

 

Installation view of room 1 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' featuring Alexander Roslin (Swedish 1718–93) 'Portrait of Catherine II' 1776–77

 

Installation view of room 1 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne featuring Alexander Roslin (Swedish 1718-93) Portrait of Catherine II 1776-77

 

 

A scintillating exhibition at NGV International which showcases one of the world’s greatest art collections. Exhibition design is outstanding (particularly the floor tiling), as are the Da Vinci, Titian, Rembrandt, van Dyck, Rubens and Flemish still life. Among my favourites is a small Watteau Savoyard with a Marmot (1716) which is absolutely still, delicate and exquisite: I thought of the photographs of Atget, his street sellers, when I saw this painting; and Frans Snyders’ tour-de-force Concert of birds (1630-40) which has such presence.

Well done to the curators, the Hermitage Museum and the NGV for staging such a magnificent exhibition.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All photographs © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria.

 

Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great showcases one of the world’s greatest art collections. Featuring works by artists including Rembrandt, Rubens, Velázquez and Van Dyck, the exhibition offers a dazzling array of works including the finest group of Dutch and Flemish art to come to Australia.

This exclusive Melbourne exhibition will also highlight the innovation and vision of Catherine the Great, whose inexhaustible passion for education, the arts and culture heralded a period of enlightenment in the region. The extraordinary works sourced and commissioned by Catherine during her thirty-four year reign, created the foundations for the Hermitage today – considered to be one of the world’s greatest treasure houses of art and decorative arts. The exhibition will offer audiences an immersive experience, recreating the rich atmosphere of the Hermitage to showcase these exquisite works.

German-born Catherine the Great (Catherine II) came to power in 1762, aged thirty-three, and ruled Russia for the next thirty-four years, until her death in 1796. She saw herself as a Philosopher Queen, a new kind of ruler in the Age of Enlightenment. Guided by Europe’s leading intellectuals, she modernised Russia’s economy, industry and government, drawing inspiration both from Antiquity and contemporary cultural and political developments in Western Europe. A fluent speaker of Russian, French and German, Catherine was largely self-educated, independent, idealistic and visionary.

While her reign was not always peaceful, Catherine sought to bring order, stability and prosperity to the vast Russian Empire. Her ideals of abolishing serfdom and ensuring the equality of all citizens under the law were ahead of her time, and strongly resisted by the nobility of the day; however, she achieved numerous other reforms, including the introduction of paper money and modernisation of Russia’s education system. French philosopher Denis Diderot, who visited St Petersburg in 1773, described an audience with Catherine as being ‘more like study than anything else: she is a stranger to no subject; there is no man in the Empire who knows her nation as well as she’.

 

Room 1 Catherine the collector

Between 1762 and 1796, the years of her reign, Catherine the Great oversaw a period of cultural renaissance in Russia. The world of ideas in which she was deeply involved from an early age found tangible expression in the material world the Empress later created around herself. The great complexes of imperial buildings Catherine constructed reflected her informed interest in both Classical and Chinese culture.

Catherine not only assembled a collection of Old Master paintings equal in scale and quality to leading European collections, but also paid considerable attention to the acquisition of contemporary art. While the richness and technical perfection of her diverse collections of decorative arts aimed to dazzle and please, they also had the more practical purpose of raising standards of artistic production in Russia. The fact that more than 400 exemplary works of art from her personal collection, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, porcelain, silver and precious gems, are seen here for the first time in Australia is cause for celebration.

 

Installation view of room 1 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' featuring Alexander Roslin (Swedish 1718–93) 'Portrait of Catherine II' 1776–77

Installation view of room 1 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' featuring Alexander Roslin (Swedish 1718–93) 'Portrait of Catherine II' 1776–77

 

Installation views of room 1 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne featuring Alexander Roslin (Swedish 1718-93) Portrait of Catherine II 1776-77

 

Installation view of room 1 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 1 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 1 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 1 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

 

 

Sèvres Cameo Service

The Sèvres Cameo Service relates to Catherine’s great passion for collecting engraved gemstones. Comprising 797 individual pieces designed to serve dinner, dessert and coffee to sixty people, the Cameo Service was commissioned from the celebrated Sèvres porcelain manufactory outside Paris as a present for Catherine’s court ‘favourite’, Prince Grigory Potemkin. The Empress’s monogram, ‘E II’ (the Russian version of her name being Ekaterina), woven from garlands of flowers and surmounted by a crown, adorned almost every object in the service.

Production of the service was both time consuming and labour-intensive. The exquisite blue element alone – made from separate layers of copper enamel that gradually seeped into the porcelain and set the pure colour – required five firings. In addition to the hundreds of porcelain objects decorated with painted and sculpted cameos and related silverware, the service also included grand central table decorations fashioned from biscuit, or unglazed cream-coloured porcelain, by the sculptor Louis-Simon Boizot. These decorations illustrated tales from Greek mythology, and were presided over by a grand biscuit statue of Catherine the Great as Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and the arts.

 

Installation view of room 1 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 1 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

 

Installation views of room 1 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne

 

Exhibition passageway

Installation view of passageway video of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne

 

Installation view of passageway video of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne

 

 

Room 2 Italian art

When Catherine the Great began collecting European art, opportunities to acquire fine Italian Old Master paintings were already severely limited. Demand from wealthy collectors was high and the marketplace was saturated with misattributed works, some of which inevitably made their way to the Hermitage and other great collections.

Despite this, Catherine achieved great success collecting sixteenth and seventeenth century paintings, particularly from Venice, including great paintings by Titian, Paris Bordone and the enigmatic Lorenzo Lotto. These are complemented by fine examples of Roman and Florentine paintings, such as the famous Female nude (Donna nuda), by an artist very close to Leonardo da Vinci. This select group of paintings beautifully illustrate developments in figurative art, portraiture and religious art in Italy from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century.

In the early years of her reign, Catherine the Great acquired en masse several large collections of drawings representing all the main European schools. This set the foundations for the current Hermitage Museum’s outstanding Cabinet of Drawings. In terms of quality, Catherine’s acquisitions of Italian drawings were of the highest standard. The majority of these date from the mid sixteenth to late eighteenth centuries and include many rare and precious works.

 

Installation view of room 2 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne featuring Domenico Fetti (Italian 1589-1623) 'Portrait of an actor' 1620s

 

Installation view of room 2 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne featuring Domenico Fetti (Italian 1589-1623) Portrait of an actor 1620s

 

Domenico Fetti (Italian 1589-1623) 'Portrait of an actor' 1620s

 

Domenico Fetti (Italian 1589-1623)
Portrait of an actor
1620s
Oil on canvas
The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

 

 

Domenico Fetti was court painter to Gerdinand II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, when he made this striking portrait of an actor. It is though to be Tristano Martinelli who made his fame working in the commedia dell’arte tradition. It is believe that Marinelli created and popularised the standard roll of the Harlequin in theatre. Fetti himself was involved with the theatre in both Mantua and Venice.

 

Installation view of room 2 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne featuring Paris Bordone (Italian 1500-71) 'Portrait of a lady with a boy' Mid 1530s

 

Installation view of room 2 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne featuring Paris Bordone (Italian 1500-71) Portrait of a lady with a boy Mid 1530s

 

Paris Bordone (Italian 1500-71) 'Portrait of a lady with a boy' Mid 1530s

 

Paris Bordone (Italian 1500-71)
Portrait of a lady with a boy
Mid 1530s
Oil on canvas
The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

 

 

This work by Venetian artist Paris Bordone is a typical example of formal Renaissance portraiture. Bordone’s main aim was to show the high social standing of the sitters, so he painted their luxurious costumes in great detail. He draws our attention to the sumptuous sleeves of this woman’s dress, he headgear resembling a turban, as well as her opulent jewellery. Bordone was one of Titian’s most talented pupils whose work is characterised by a level of precision not often present in his master’s work. This painting entered the Hermitage as a work by Giorgione.

 

Installation view of room 2 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 2 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne featuring to the left, Domenico Capriolo (Italian c. 1494-1528) 'Portrait of a young man' 1512 and to the right, Lorenzo Lotto (Italian c. 1480-1556) 'The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with Saint Justine' 1529-30

 

Installation view of room 2 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne featuring to the left, Domenico Capriolo (Italian c. 1494-1528) Portrait of a young man 1512 and to the right, Lorenzo Lotto (Italian c. 1480-1556) The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with Saint Justine 1529-30

 

 

Portrait of a young man by the Venetian master Domenico Capriolo captures the intellectual values of Renaissance art. Everything that surrounds this youth speaks of his interests, such as the church that indicates his piety; the statue of Venus that reveals his passion for Antiquity; and the folder (containing verses or drawings) that illustrates the richness of his inner world. The painting is dated 1512 and the artist’s name symbolised by a medallion containing a Capreolus, or deer, which is a play on his name. Such allusions were common in Renaissance art and would have been readily understood by his contemporaries.

 

Lorenzo Lotto (Italian c. 1480-1556) 'The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with Saint Justine' 1529-30

Lorenzo Lotto (Italian c. 1480-1556) 'The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with Saint Justine' 1529-30

 

Lorenzo Lotto (Italian c. 1480-1556)
The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with Saint Justine
1529-30
Oil on canvas
The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

 

 

Lorenzo Lotto is a much admired sixteenth-century Venetian artist. The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with Saint Justine has the typical dynamism of Lotto’s work, achieved not only through the poses, gestures and movement of the foliage, but also through his intense colour palette and the juxtaposition of resonant blues with red and yellow tones. Here, the Holy Family has been joined by Saint Justine of Padua, martyred in 304 AD, identifiable through her attribute of a sword piercing her breast. Justine was a very popular subject for artists of Northern Italy.

 

Installation view of room 2 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne featuring Leonardo da Vinci (school of) 'Female nude (Donna Nuda)' Early 16th century

 

Installation view of room 2 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne featuring Leonardo da Vinci (school of) Female nude (Donna Nuda) Early 16th century

 

Leonardo da Vinci (school of) 'Female nude (Donna Nuda)' Early 16th century

 

Leonardo da Vinci (school of)
Female nude (Donna Nuda)
Early 16th century
Oil on canvas
The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

 

 

This painting entered the Hermitage collection as a work by Leonardo da Vinci, but is now widely accepted to be by one of his close followers, possibly his pupil Salai. Perhaps more important is that it may be a close copy of a lost painting by Leonardo. Female nude (Donna Nuda) also shares some of the qualities of the famous Mona Lisa c. 1503-19, in the Louvre Museum, Paris; namely the repetition of the pose, the position of the hands and the landscape setting seen behind a stone ledge in front of which the figure is set. This is the most refined of numerous variants of this composition in existence.

 

Room 3 Flemish art

In the seventeenth century, Flanders comprised the Catholic-dominated Southern Netherlands or ‘Spanish’ Austrian Netherlands, an area larger than modern Belgium. Thanks in large part to the talents of artist Peter Paul Rubens, the Flanders or ‘Flemish’ school in this era became very prestigious. While chiefly a painter, Rubens had far-reaching stylistic influence on many visual art forms, from prints to silverware and architecture. Every leading artist of seventeenth-century Flanders studied in, passed through or was connected with Rubens’s studio.

A diplomat and court insider, Rubens operated on an international stage. His art was correspondingly monumental; characterised by large forms modelled with loose brushstrokes in glowing, brilliant colours. Rubens’s pupil Anthony van Dyck and collaborator Cornelis de Vos led the way in bringing new naturalism to portraiture. While they catered to different markets (van Dyck to the nobility and de Vos to a rich merchant class) their mutual influence is apparent.

Flanders was a nation built on trade, and Flemish artists travelled widely, especially to Italy. From Italy they brought back new pictorial trends, such as the theatrical naturalism of Caravaggio. Flemish artists excelled in naturalistic effects, which they applied even to traditionally humble subjects, such as still lifes and animal pictures, seen to brilliant effect in the art of Frans Snyders and David Teniers II.

 

Installation view of room 3 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 3 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 3 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 3 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

room-three-installation-e

 

Installation views of room 3 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne featuring Peter Paul Rubens and workshop (Flemish 1577-1640) The Adoration of the Magi, c. 1620 at centre

 

 

Rubens painted the subject of the Adoration of the Magi (Matthew 2:1) more often than any other episode from Christ’s life. Rendered at life-sized scale, this painting combines the humility of Christ’s birth with splendid, worldly pageantry. Three Kings from the East are shown crowding into Christ’s stable (portrayed as a cave, in an allusion to Christ’s later interment) wearing gold- embroidered silks and satins, and offering gifts. The eldest king, Caspar, kneels before Christ with gold; behind him is Melchior, with frankincense; and Balthazar with myrrh, used for embalming. With the help of his studio, Rubens produced more than sixty altarpieces during his career.

 

Installation view of room 3 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 3 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

 

Installation views of room 3 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne

 

Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish 1577–1640) 'Roman Charity (Cimon and Pero)' c. 1612

 

Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish 1577-1640)
Roman Charity (Cimon and Pero)
c. 1612
Oil on canvas
The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
Acquired from the collection of Count Cobenzl, Brussels, 1768

 

 

Roman Charity (Cimon and Pero) depicts a story told by the Roman historian Valerius Maximus in his Factorum ac dictorum memorabilium libri IX (Nine Books of Memorable Deeds and Sayings), written around 30 AD. The story involves Cimon, an old man awaiting execution in prison who was not given food. Cimon’s daughter Pero visited him, and suckled him at her breast like a child. Pero’s nourishing of Cimon was considered an outstanding example of paying honour to one’s parents.

 

Room 4 Dutch art

The Hermitage holds the finest collection of Dutch art outside the Netherlands. While Peter the Great (1672-1725) had a passion for Dutch art and acquired some notable masterpieces, Catherine the Great established the depth and breadth of this extraordinary collection, beginning in 1764 with her first acquisitions. In that year Catherine purchased 317 paintings that had been assembled for Frederick II of Prussia by the German merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. Among this substantial group were more than 100 Dutch paintings by the most notable masters.

In 1769 Catherine purchased the collection of Count Heinrich von Brühl, which included spectacular landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael, Isaack Jansz. van Ostade and Aert van der Neer, as well as four Rembrandt portraits, including the wonderful Portrait of a scholar, 1631. For the rest of her life Catherine continued to add outstanding Dutch works to her rich collection. Although the paintings and drawings from the Dutch school included here are only a fragment of the extensive and diverse collection assembled by Catherine the Great, they reveal her artistic preferences and taste.

 

Installation view of room 4 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 4 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

 

Installation views of room 4 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne with Rembrandt. Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch 1606-69) Portrait of a scholar 1631 at centre.

 

 

Rembrandt painted Portrait of a scholar shortly after moving from his native Leiden to Amsterdam in 1630. He had already established a growing reputation in Leiden and was enticed to the capital by the art dealer Hendrick van Uylenburgh, father of his future wife Saskia. Once completing the move, Rembrandt rapidly became the city’s leading artist, mainly on account of dazzling portraits such as this early masterpiece. He then secured the most prestigious commissions from wealthy and powerful citizens of Amsterdam.

 

Room 5 French taste

The Russian aristocracy spoke French and modelled their manners and style on those of the French Court. Catherine followed the vast intellectual strides of the French philosophes with passionate interest. She also embraced the arts, luring French artists, architects and craftsmen to St Petersburg.

Catherine relied on agents and advisors in France and Germany to identify and acquire works of art on her behalf. In this way she acquired the collection of Paris banker Louis Antoine Crozat, Baron de Thiers and other important bodies of work in France. Her holdings of French art came to encompass works by Renaissance masters as well as seventeenth-century landscapes and history paintings.

Catherine also acquired examples of work of her own century by Rococo artists such as Antoine Watteau. The playful, erotic and at times wistful art of Watteau’s generation gave rise to the intimate and worldly art of François Boucher, whose pictures Catherine also purchased. The Empress collected modern masterpieces created in reaction to French courtly and decadent styles. Her paintings by Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin are premier examples of a new, moralising directness in ambitious French art.

Catherine’s buying in France was not limited to French art. Also in this room are paintings by great German, Spanish and Italian masters that were acquired in Paris from prestigious collections under the direction of Catherine’s French advisors.

 

Installation view of room 5 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 5 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

 

Installation views of room 5 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne.

 

 

Room 6 Catherine and the world

For Catherine the Great, collecting art was part of a wider economic and diplomatic program designed to stimulate economic and cultural activity at home and abroad. At a meeting in December 1762 with the Moscow Senate, Catherine suggested that consuls be stationed in Spain, Holland and England not only to promote maritime trade but also to source luxury goods and works of art as examples for Russian artists and manufacturers to aspire to.

Through Catherine’s consuls and agents, such items began to flow into St Petersburg, steadily elevating that city into a vibrant centre of European culture. While her cultural sympathies were French, Catherine was also very curious about Britain – the economic success story of the age. She informed herself about Britain’s trade, commerce, manufacturing, philosophy and political system, and purchased works by modern British neoclassical masters, such as Joseph Wright of Derby and Joshua Reynolds. Examples of Spanish, Italian and German art were often not sourced in their own countries of origin but acquired as a part of larger collections.

 

Installation view of room 6 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 6 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 6 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 6 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 6 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 6 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

 

Installation views of room 6 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne with the 1773 sculpture Catherine II by Jean-Antoine Houdon (French 1741-1826) at centre.

 

 

Room 7 The Walpole collection

In 1779 Catherine the Great acquired 198 paintings from a celebrated collection formed by Sir Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, Britain’s first prime minister. They were bought from the family estate, Houghton Hall, and sold by Walpole’s grandson, George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford, who approached the Russian ambassador to Britain directly about the sale. At more than £40,000, the price was high, but the transaction was concluded in only two months. Attempts were made to keep this famous collection in Britain, to no avail.

The Walpole collection was outstanding in quality, and significantly enhanced the Hermitage’s range of Flemish and Italian works. The Russian ambassador to Great Britain, Alexey Musin-Pushkin, who organised the valuable purchase, wrote to Catherine the Great: ‘The greater part of the nobility here are displaying general dissatisfaction and regret that these paintings are being allowed out of this country, and are setting in train various projects to keep them here … No little assistance comes from Lord Orford’s zealous desire to unite [the collection for] the gallery of Your Imperial Majesty, rather than to sell it to parliament itself or, least of all, to divide it through sale to different individuals’.

 

Installation view of room 7 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 7 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

 

Installation views of room 7 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne with Frans Snyders (Flemish 1579-1657) Concert of birds, 1630-40 at right and Frans Snyders (Flemish 1579-1657) Jan Boekckhorst (German 1605-68) Cook at a kitchen table with dead game, c. 1636-37 second left

 

Frans Snyders (Flemish 1579-1657) 'Concert of birds' 1630-40

 

Frans Snyders (Flemish 1579-1657)
Concert of birds
1630-40
Oil on canvas
The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
Acquired from the collection of Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall, 1779

 

 

An important place in Flemish seventeenth-century painting is occupied by two specific genres: animal painting and the still life. One of the most important animal and still-life painters was Frans Snyders, a very close collaborator of Peter Paul Rubens who often painted still-life details and animals on the master’s canvases. Snyders’s superb skill as a painter of animals is revealed by Concert of birds, based on a subject from Aesop’s Fables. It shows a gathering of feathered creatures screeching and singing under the direction of an owl seated on a dried branch in front of an open music score.

 

Frans Snyders (Flemish 1579-1657) 'Concert of birds' 1630-40 (detail)

 

Frans Snyders (Flemish 1579-1657)
Concert of birds (detail)
1630-40
Oil on canvas
The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
Acquired from the collection of Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall, 1779

 

Frans Snyders (Flemish 1579-1657) Jan Boekckhorst (German 1605-68) 'Cook at a kitchen table with dead game' c. 1636-37 (detail)

 

Frans Snyders (Flemish 1579-1657)
Jan Boekckhorst (German 1605-68)
Cook at a kitchen table with dead game (detail)
c. 1636-37
Oil on canvas
The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

 

 

Frans Snyders was the son of the owner of one of Antwerp’s largest wine and eating houses. His dramatically realistic still lifes celebrate the exotic variety of rare fowls available at Antwerp’s markets. Images of dead animals being prepared for a banquet were understood in Snyder’s time as lessons in Christian morality. Many Dutch and Flemish still lifes featuring the sacrifice of an animal for the table functioned as allusions to Christ’s Passion and the transience of the flesh.

 

Installation view of room 7 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 7 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

 

Installation views of room 7 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne with, at left in the bottom image, Anthony van Dyck (Flemish 1599-1641) Portrait of Philadelphia and Elizabeth Wharton, 1640

 

 

This is one of the most charming portraits of children paint by van Dyck, who had particular talent for such works. It is one of a group of family portraits commissioned from can Dyck by Philip, Lord Wharton in the late 1630s. Van Dyck worked in England for approximately ten ears and brought a new standard of elegance and style to English portraiture. He largely conveyed this through his flair for painting lavish costumes and sumptuous fabrics, a sensibility he carried through to his portraits of children.

 

Room 8 China

Eighteenth-century Enlightenment fascination with the East, particularly China, is reflected by Catherine the Great’s architectural and landscaping works completed in St Petersburg and at her summer and winter palaces, as well as by her collecting of Oriental curiosities and philosophical texts. Russian interest in China can be traced to the reign of the Romanov tsars in the seventeenth century, when several missions brought back Chinese treasures and goods to the Russian Court. Importantly, in 1689 the first treaty between Russia and China was signed at Nerchinsk, outlining the border between the countries and rules about caravan trade.

Like many educated people of her time, Catherine was fascinated by the concept of the enlightened ruler thought to be found in China, such as the Kangxi Emperor (reigned 1662-1722), Yongzhèng Emperor (reigned 1723-35), and Qianlong Emperor (reigned 1736-95). One of her regular and most influential correspondents was French philosopher Voltaire, who praised the Celestial Kingdom, its monarchs and men of wisdom; only in China, he thought, was a man’s life, honour and property truly protected by law. Such a clear link between Catherine’s desire for justice and order in Russia and general perceptions of good Chinese government, combined with the Enlightenment fashion for curiosities of all kinds, led to great Russian interest in China in the second half of the eighteenth century.

 

Installation view of room 8 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 8 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 8 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 8 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 8 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 8 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view of room 8 of the exhibition 'Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great' at NGV International, Melbourne

 

Installation views of room 8 of the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at NGV International, Melbourne

 

 

NGV International
180 St Kilda Road

Opening hours for exhibition
10am – 5pm daily

NGV Masterpieces from the Hermitage website

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18
Jul
15

Exhibition: ‘Mario Giacomelli. Against Time’ at Fotomuseum WestLicht, Vienna

Exhibition dates: 26th June – 9th August 2015

 

Mario Giacomelli. From the series 'Awareness of Nature, Italy, Senigallia' 1980

 

Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)
From the series Presa di coscienza sulla natura / Awareness of Nature
Italy, Senigallia
1980

 

 

Mario Gaicomelli has a unique signature as an artist. His photographs could never be anyone else’s work.

The press release states, “His works, all of them conceived as series, combine elements of reportage with lyrical subjectivity and a symbolic aesthetic which seems almost calligraphic in its harsh contrasts between black and white… On the one hand, they express a personal feeling; on the other, they embody a clear, courageous and conceptually groundbreaking attitude.” It continues, “His singular style caused him to remain beyond photographic fashions. In the five decades of his work, he created a body of work that is unparalleled in its aesthetic and thematic consistency.”

To remain beyond photographic fashions. In other words, he didn’t fit in, he was an outsider, he was Other. He did not conform.

He crafted, and I use the word deliberately, a conceptual response to life and landscape, to memory and existence – his symbolic aesthetic – that also expresses an enormous respect for personal feeling, for the stuff of life. There is a consistency to his enquiry, both aesthetically and thematically, that marks him out from the pack.

The calligraphic nature of his work has links back to his training as a printer. The aerial photographs of the landscape from the series Presa di coscienza sulla natura / Awareness of Nature (below) possess the quality of an etching. Mix in an dash of surrealism, such as in the series Verrà la morte e avrà i Tuoi Occhi / Death will come and have your eyes (below)1 and the macabre, as in the series Slaughterhouse, and you have a potent mix of portrayal of the irreality of everyday life. Some photographs, such as an image below from the series Scanno Italy, Scanno even posses the 3D quality of stereoscopic cards.

Above all, there is a sense of the mysteries of life contained within the spaces of his work. Is the white cat flying in mid-air or is clinging to someone that we can’t see, who has been printed out by the photographer because of his previsualisation of the work. What is that shape hovering next to his mother? I think it looks like a moth, and the mother is a Japanese mother after Hiroshima with a withered hand. She almost looks like she is dressed in a kimono as well. We’re not supposed to know what that is – actually it’s Agfa paper, hardest possible grade, and skilled use of bleach by the artist – and that is the mystery. Its an interesting print because it is printed so that it could be any gender.

I do love artists who push the boundaries of the sensual and the symbolic. Praise be to traces of differences.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Fotomuseum WestLicht for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

  1. See the case of Christine Papin and Léa Papin who were two French maids who murdered their employer’s wife and daughter in Le Mans, France, on 2 February 1933. They had both been beaten to the point of being unrecognisable, and one of the daughter’s eyes was on the floor nearby. Madame Lancelin’s eyes had been gouged out and were found in the folds of the scarf around her neck.

 

 

Mario Giacomelli. From the series 'Awareness of Nature, Italy, Senigallia' c. 1987

 

Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)
From the series Presa di coscienza sulla natura / Awareness of Nature
Italy, Senigallia
c. 1987

 

 

Italian Neorealism (Neorealismo)

Italian Neorealism came about as World War II ended and Benito Mussolini’s government fell, causing the Italian film industry to lose its center. Neorealism was a sign of cultural change and social progress inItaly. Its films presented contemporary stories and ideas, and were often shot in the streets because the Cinecittà film studios had been damaged significantly during the war.

The neorealist style was developed by a circle of film critics that revolved around the magazine Cinema, including Luchino Visconti, Gianni Puccini, Cesare Zavattini, Giuseppe De Santis and Pietro Ingrao. Largely prevented from writing about politics (the editor-in-chief of the magazine was Vittorio Mussolini, son of Benito Mussolini), the critics attacked the white telephone films that dominated the industry at the time. As a counter to the popular mainstream films some critics felt that Italian cinema should turn to the realist writers from the turn of the 20th century.

Both Antonioni and Visconti had worked closely with Jean Renoir. In addition, many of the filmmakers involved in neorealism developed their skills working on calligraphist films (though the short-lived movement was markedly different from neorealism). Elements of neorealism are also found in the films of Alessandro Blasetti and the documentary-style films of Francesco De Robertis. Two of the most significant precursors of neorealism are Toni (Renoir, 1935) and 1860 (Blasetti, 1934). In the Spring of 1945, Mussolini was executed and Italy was liberated from German occupation. This period, known as the “Italian Spring,” was a break from old ways and an entrance to a more realistic approach when making films. Italian cinema went from utilizing elaborate studio sets to shooting on location in the countryside and city streets in the realist style.

The first neorealist film is generally thought to be Ossessione by Luchino Visconti (1943). Neorealism became famous globally in 1946 with Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City, when it won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival as the first major film produced in Italy after the war…

The films are generally filmed with nonprofessional actors – although, in a number of cases, well known actors were cast in leading roles, playing strongly against their normal character types in front of a background populated by local people rather than extras brought in for the film. They are shot almost exclusively on location, mostly in run-down cities as well as rural areas due to its forming during the post-war era.

The topic involves the idea of what it is like to live among the poor and the lower working class. The focus is on a simple social order of survival in rural, everyday life. Performances are mostly constructed from scenes of people performing fairly mundane and quotidian activities, devoid of the self-consciousness that amateur acting usually entails. Neorealist films often feature children in major roles, though their characters are frequently more observational than participatory…

The period between 1943 and 1950 in the history of Italian cinema is dominated by the impact of neorealism, which is properly defined as a moment or a trend in Italian film, rather than an actual school or group of theoretically motivated and like-minded directors and scriptwriters. Its impact nevertheless has been enormous, not only on Italian film but also on French New Wave cinema, the Polish Film School and ultimately on films all over the world.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Mario Giacomelli (1925-2000) From the series 'The Good Earth, Italy' c. 1965

 

Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)
From the series The Good Earth, Italy
c. 1965

 

Mario Giacomelli. From the series 'Awareness of Nature, Italy, Senigallia' 1982-92

 

Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)
From the series Presa di coscienza sulla natura / Awareness of Nature
Italy, Senigallia
1982-1992

 

 

The images by Mario Giacomelli (1925-2000), one of the most well-known Italian photographers of the post-war period, are distinctive and possessed of an almost painful intensity. Inspired by Neorealismo cinema, Giacomelli, a typesetter and printer by training who had been experimenting with painting and literature, turned to photography during the 1950s, developing a highly individual visual idiom characterised by graphic abstraction. His works, all of them conceived as series, combine elements of reportage with lyrical subjectivity and a symbolic aesthetic which seems almost calligraphic in its harsh contrasts between black and white.

Starting with the people and landscape of his native central Italy, Giacomelli’s pictures always deal with the fundamental questions of existence: life and death, faith and love, the relationship of man and his roots, the traces of time. One of his most well-known images shows a group of young priests in their cassocks dancing a round in the snow – a moment of innocence already inscribed with loss. Giacomelli’s images of the farm land around his native town of Senigallia, taken from an airplane, dissolve the fields into picturesque networks of lines, showing the landscape as a product of human toil and the passing of time. On the one hand, they express a personal feeling; on the other, they embody a clear, courageous and conceptually groundbreaking attitude.

The photographs on display are part of the Photography Collection OstLicht, curated by Rebekka Reuter and Fabian Knierim.

Text from the Fotomuseum WestLicht website

 

Mario Giacomelli. 'From the series: Puglia Italy, Puglia' 1958

 

Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)
From the series Puglia Italy, Puglia
1958

 

Mario Giacomelli. From the series 'Scanno Italy, Scanno' 1959

 

Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)
From the series Scanno Italy, Scanno
1959

 

Mario Giacomelli. From the series 'Lourdes France, Lourdes' 1966

 

Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)
From the series Lourdes France, Lourdes
1966

 

Mario Giacomelli (1925-2000) From the series 'Io non ho mani che mi accarezzino il volto / I have no Hands caress my face' Italy, Senigallia 1961-1963

 

Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)
From the series Io non ho mani che mi accarezzino il volto / I have no Hands to caress my face
Italy, Senigallia
1961-1963

 

 

Among his most famous designs include the photographs of the series Io non ho mani che mi accarezzino il Volto (I have no hands that caress my face, after a poem by David Maria Turoldo), 1961-63. Giacomelli observed in a group of priest candidates at their boisterous games and silliness between the seriousness of the lessons. An image showing the young clergy, as they dance in their cassocks a dance in the snow – a moment of innocence, the loss already acknowledged. The soil is so that the seminarians seem to float as black silhouettes on nothing in the recording of a pure white surface without any drawing.

At the end of the 1950s Giacomelli photographed the street scenes of Puglia and Scanno. Both series show a largely untouched by modernity village community. The archaic rural life that still has a clearly vital undertone in Puglia (1958), turns into the black-clad figures of Scanno (1957-59), an image of gloomy Providence.

Over several years, from 1954 to 1983, Giacomelli returned to the nursing home where his mother had worked in the days of his childhood, to photograph there. As in all his series he took, even with Verrà la morte e avrà i Tuoi Occhi (Death will come and will have your eyes on a poem by Cesare Pavese), Giacomelli builds a relationship to the place and its people. The recordings are marked by a harsh realism of human decay, the white of the deductions seem to exhaust the fragile body which possesses an almost existential quality. Simultaneously Giacomelli’s identification with the residents and his silent anger at the suffering is obvious and so the ancients always remain hidden in his eyes.

Giacomelli’s shots from the plane of farmland of his birthplace Senigallia, finally resolve the fields in picturesque interwoven lines and show the landscape as a drawn from the people and time. On one hand, an expression of a personal feeling, these images embody at the same time a clear, bold and pioneering conceptual attitude. Giacomelli’s art is always a rebellion against the impositions of human existence. The bitter irony of the transience of life, he meets by means of photography. His singular style caused him to remain beyond photographic fashions. In the five decades of his work, he created a body of work that is unparalleled in its aesthetic and thematic consistency.”

 

Mario Giacomelli

Mario Giacomelli was born in 1925 in Senigallia. The small town on the Italian Adriatic coast in the province of Ancona remained until his death in 2000, the centre of his life. Giacomelli grew up in poverty. His father he lost before he was nine years old, his mother worked as a laundress in a retirement home. At thirteen, he left school and began an apprenticeship as a printer. With a partner, he opened after the war in Senigallia his own printing business. Inspired by photography magazines and the neo-realist film, he discovered at the beginning of the 1950s photography for himself and bought his first camera. He successfully participated in a number of photo contests and regional exhibitions. He received an important impetus in this period by Giuseppe Cavalli, with whom he founded the Photo Group Misa in 1954. In the same year he began his work on Verrà la morte. In 1957 he undertook trips to Scanno and Lourdes, from which emerged the first images of the same series. International presentations of his photographs – the Subjective Photography 3 exhibition, 1959 organised by Otto Steinert in Brussels, at Photokina in Cologne, or the George Eastman House, Rochester (both 1963) – made Giacomelli known beyond Italy. An exhibition curated by John Szarkowski at MoMA in New York meant an international breakthrough for Giacomelli 1964.

Translated from the German press release

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mario Giacomelli. Against Time' at Fotomuseum WestLicht© WestLicht / Sandro E. E. Zanzinger

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mario Giacomelli. Against Time' at Fotomuseum WestLicht© WestLicht / Sandro E. E. Zanzinger

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mario Giacomelli. Against Time' at Fotomuseum WestLicht© WestLicht / Sandro E. E. Zanzinger

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mario Giacomelli. Against Time' at Fotomuseum WestLicht© WestLicht / Sandro E. E. Zanzinger

 

Installation views of the exhibition Mario Giacomelli. Against Time at Fotomuseum WestLicht
© WestLicht / Sandro E. E. Zanzinger

 

Mario Giacomelli. From the series 'Slaughterhouse' Italy 1961

 

Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)
From the series Slaughterhouse
Italy 1961

 

Mario Giacomelli (1925-2000) From the series: 'Verrà la morte e avrà i Tuoi Occhi / Death will come and have your eyes' Italy 1954

 

Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)
From the series: Verrà la morte e avrà i Tuoi Occhi / Death will come and have your eyes
Italy 1954

 

Mario Giacomelli (1925-2000) 'Mia Madre / Mother' Italy 1959

 

Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)
Mia Madre / Mother
Italy 1959

 

Mario Giacomelli (1925-2000) From the series: 'Verrà la morte e i Tuoi Occhi avrà / Death will come and your have eyes' Italy, 1955-1958

 

Mario Giacomelli (Italian, 1925-2000)
From the series: Verrà la morte e i Tuoi Occhi avrà / Death will come and your have eyes
Italy, 1955-1958

 

 

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24
Aug
14

Exhibition: ‘Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe’ at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Exhibition dates: 21st February – 1st September 2014

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Many thankx to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the art.

 

 

Giacomo Balla. 'The Hand of the Violinist (The Rhythms of the Bow)' (La mano del violinista [I ritmi dell’archetto]) 1912

 

Giacomo Balla (Italian, 1871-1958)
The Hand of the Violinist (The Rhythms of the Bow) (La mano del violinista [I ritmi dell’archetto])
1912
Oil on canvas
56 x 78.3cm
Estorick Collection, London
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome

 

 

Giacomo Balla

Around 1902, [Balla] taught Divisionist techniques to Umberto Boccioni and Gino Severini. Influenced by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Giacomo Balla adopted the Futurism style, creating a pictorial depiction of light, movement and speed. He was a signatory of the Futurist Manifesto in 1910. Typical for his new style of painting is Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash (1912) and his 1914 work Abstract Speed + Sound (Velocità astratta + rumore) (below). In 1914, he began to design Futurist furniture, as well as so-called Futurist “antineutral” clothing. Balla also began working as a sculptor, creating, in 1915, the well-known work titled Boccioni’s Fist, based on ‘lines of force’ (Linee di forza del pugno di Boccioni).

During World War I, Balla’s studio became a meeting place for young artists.

Balla’s most famous works, such as his 1912 Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash where efforts to express movement – and thus the passage of time – through the medium of painting. One of Balla’s main inspirations was the chronophotography of Étienne-Jules Marey. Balla’s 1912 The Hand of the Violinist (above) depicts the frenetic motion of a musician playing, and draws on inspiration from Cubism and the photographic experiments of Marey and Eadweard Muybridge.

In his abstract 1912-1914 series Iridescent Interpenetration, Balla attempts to separate the experience of light from the perception of objects as such. Abstract Speed + Sound (1913-14, below) is a study of speed symbolised by the automobile. Originally, it may have been part of a triptych.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Giacomo Balla. 'Abstract Speed + Sound' (Velocità astratta + rumore) 1913-14

 

Giacomo Balla (Italian, 1871-1958)
Abstract Speed + Sound (Velocità astratta + rumore)
1913-14
Oil on unvarnished millboard in artist’s painted frame
54.5 x 76.5cm
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553.31
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome
Photo: Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

 

Francesco Cangiullo. 'Large Crowd in the Piazza del Popolo' (Grande folla in Piazza del Popolo) 1914

 

Francesco Cangiullo (italian, 1884-1977)
Large Crowd in the Piazza del Popolo (Grande folla in Piazza del Popolo)
1914
Watercolor, gouache, and pencil on paper
58 x 74cm
Private collection
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome

 

 

Francesco Cangiullo

Neapolitan writer and painter who made an important contribution to Futurism’s experiments in poetry and drama.

The Napolitano artist was born on January 27th, 1884 and was largely self-taught. He joined the Futurist movement in 1910 and took part in the important Futurist exhibition in Rome in 1914, creating art collaboratively with both Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Giacomo Balla. Cangiullo created his best-known artwork in 1915; in Café-Concert: Unexpected Alphabet he playfully portrays a lively evening at the theatre in his hometown of Naples in which the singers, dancers, acrobats, and comedians are composed of letters, numbers, and mathematical sings. In 1924 he distanced himself form the Futurists, but still continued a friendship with Marinetti. Fondly reminiscing on his experiences with the art movement, Cangiullo published Futurist Evenings recounting his memories with the group.

 

Filippo Masoero. 'Descending over Saint Peter' (Scendendo su San Pietro) c. 1927-37 (possibly 1930-33)

 

Filippo Masoero (Italian, 1894-1969)
Descending over Saint Peter (Scendendo su San Pietro)
c. 1927-37 (possibly 1930-33)
Gelatin silver print
24 x 31.5cm
Touring Club Italiano Archive

 

Ivo Pannaggi. 'Speeding Train' (Treno in corsa) 1922

 

Ivo Pannaggi (Italian, 1901-1981)
Speeding Train (Treno in corsa)
1922
Oil on canvas
100 x 120cm
Fondazione Carima – Museo Palazzo Ricci, Macerata, Italy
Photo: Courtesy Fondazione Cassa di risparmio della Provincia di Macerata

 

 

Ivo Pannaggi

Futurism

Pannaggi joined the Futurist movement in 1918, but left soon after because of disagreements with Fillippo Marinetti. In 1922, he and Vinicio Paladini [it] published their “Manifesto of Futurist Mechanical Art.” The manifesto emphasised the importance of machine aesthetics (arte meccanica), which became one of the dominant strands of Futurism in the 1920s. He and Paladini also staged the Mechanical Futurist Ballet (Ballo meccano futurista) at Anton Giulio Bragaglia’s Casa d’Arte.

Around the same time he painted Speeding Train (Treno in corsa), perhaps his most famous work (above). He also created many photomontage works. In Postal Collages (1925), Pannaggi created a series of unfinished photomontages that would be completed through the inevitable addition of stamps and seals by postal workers – an early instance of mail art.

 

Germany and the Bauhaus

In 1927, Pannaggi traveled to Berlin, where he would live until 1929. He became friends with Kurt Schwitters and Walter Benjamin and published photomontage works in German newspapers. Between 1932 and 1933, Pannaggi attended the Bauhaus, the only Futurist other than Nicolaj Diugheroff to do so.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Bruno Munari and Torido Mazzotti. 'Antipasti Service' (Piatti Servizio Antipasti) 1929-1930

 

Bruno Munari (Italian, 1907-1998) and Torido Mazzotti (Italian, 1895-1988)
Antipasti Service (Piatti Servizio Antipasti)
1929-1930
Glazed earthenware (manufactured by Casa Giuseppe Mazzotti, Albisola Marina)
Six plates: 21.6 x 21.6cm diameter each; one vase: 11.7 x 7.6cm
The Wolfsonian-Florida International University, Miami Beach, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection
© Bruno Munari, courtesy Corraini Edizioni
Photo: Lynton Gardiner

 

 

From February 21 through September 1, 2014, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe, the first comprehensive overview in the United States of one of Europe’s most important 20th-century avant-garde movements. Featuring over 360 works by more than 80 artists, architects, designers, photographers, and writers, this multidisciplinary exhibition examines the full historical breadth of Futurism, from its 1909 inception with the publication of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s first Futurist manifesto through its demise at the end of World War II. The exhibition includes many rarely seen works, some of which have never traveled outside of Italy. It encompasses not only painting and sculpture, but also the advertising, architecture, ceramics, design, fashion, film, free-form poetry, photography, performance, publications, music, and theatre of this dynamic and often contentious movement that championed modernity and insurgency.

 

About Futurism

Futurism was launched in 1909 against a background of growing economic and social upheaval. In Marinetti’s “The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism,” published in Le Figaro, he outlined the movement’s key aims, among them: to abolish the past, to champion modernisation, and to extol aggression. Although it began as a literary movement, Futurism soon embraced the visual arts as well as advertising, fashion, music and theatre, and it spread throughout Italy and beyond. The Futurists rejected stasis and tradition and drew inspiration from the emerging industry, machinery, and speed of the modern metropolis. The first generation of artists created works charactersed by dynamic movement and fractured forms, aspiring to break with existing notions of space and time to place the viewer at the centre of the artwork. Extending into many mediums, Futurism was intended to be not just an artistic idiom but an entirely new way of life. Central to the movement was the concept of the opera d’arte totale or “total work of art,” in which the viewer is surrounded by a completely Futurist environment.

More than two thousand individuals were associated with the movement over its duration. In addition to Marinetti, central figures include: artists Giacomo Balla, Benedetta (Benedetta Cappa Marinetti), Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Fortunato Depero, and Enrico Prampolini; poets and writers Francesco Cangiullo and Rosa Rosà; architect Antonio Sant’Elia; composer Luigi Russolo; photographers Anton Giulio Bragaglia and Tato (Guglielmo Sansoni); dancer Giannina Censi; and ceramicist Tullio d’Albisola. These figures and other lesser-known ones are represented in the exhibition.

Futurism is commonly understood to have had two phases: “heroic” Futurism, which lasted until around 1916, and a later incarnation that arose after World War I and remained active until the early 1940s. Investigations of “heroic” Futurism have predominated and comparatively few exhibitions have explored the subsequent life of the movement; until now, a comprehensive overview of Italian Futurism had yet to be presented in the U.S. Italian art of the 1920s and ’30s is little known outside of its home country, due in part to a taint from Futurism’s sometime association with Fascism. This association complicates the narrative of this avant-garde and makes it all the more necessary to delve into and clarify its full history.

 

Exhibition overview

Italian Futurism unfolds chronologically, juxtaposing works in different mediums as it traces the myriad artistic languages the Futurists employed as their practice evolved over a 35-year period. The exhibition begins with an exploration of the manifesto as an art form, and proceeds to the Futurists’ catalytic encounter with Cubism in 1911, their exploration of near-abstract compositions, and their early efforts in photography. Ascending the rotunda levels of the museum, visitors follow the movement’s progression as it expanded to include architecture, clothing, design, dinnerware, experimental poetry, and toys.

Along the way, it gained new practitioners and underwent several stylistic evolutions – shifting from the fractured spaces of the 1910s to the machine aesthetics (or arte meccanica) of the ’20s, and then to the softer, lyrical forms of the ’30s. Aviation’s popularity and nationalist significance in 1930s Italy led to the swirling, often abstracted, aerial imagery of Futurism’s final incarnation, aeropittura. This novel painting approach united the Futurist interest in nationalism, speed, technology, and war with new and dizzying visual perspectives. The fascination with the aerial spread to other mediums, including ceramics, dance, and experimental aerial photography.

The exhibition is enlivened by three films commissioned from documentary filmmaker Jen Sachs, which use archival film footage, documentary photographs, printed matter, writings, recorded declamations, and musical compositions to represent the Futurists’ more ephemeral work and to bring to life their words-in-freedom poems. One film addresses the Futurists’ evening performances and events, called serate, which merged “high” and “low” culture in radical ways and broke down barriers between spectator and performer. Mise-en-scène installations evoke the Futurists’ opera d’arte totale interior ensembles, from those executed for the private sphere to those realized under Fascism.

Italian Futurism concludes with the five monumental canvases that compose the Syntheses of Communications (1933-34) by Benedetta (Benedetta Cappa Marinetti), which are being shown for the first time outside of their original location. One of few public commissions awarded to a Futurist in the 1930s, the series of paintings was created for the Palazzo delle Poste (Post Office) in Palermo, Sicily. The paintings celebrate multiple modes of communication, many enabled by technological innovations, and correspond with the themes of modernity and the “total work of art” concept that underpinned the Futurist ethos.

Text from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum website

 

Tullio Crali. 'Before the Parachute Opens' (Prima che si apra il paracadute) 1939

 

Tullio Crali (Italian, 1910-2000)
Before the Parachute Opens (Prima che si apra il paracadute)
1939
Oil on panel
141 x 151cm
Casa Cavazzini, Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Udine, Italy
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome
Photo: Claudio Marcon, Udine, Civici Musei e Gallerie di Storia e Arte

 

 

Tullio Crali

Aeropittura

In 1928 Crali flew for the first time. His enthusiasm for flying and his experience as a pilot influenced his art. In 1929, through Sofronio Pocarini, he made contact with Marinetti, the founder of Futurism, and joined the movement. In the same year aeropittura was launched in the manifesto, Perspectives of Flight, signed by Benedetta, Depero, Dottori, Fillia, Marinetti, Prampolini, Somenzi and Guglielmo Sansoni (Tato). The manifesto stated that “The changing perspectives of flight constitute an absolutely new reality that has nothing in common with the reality traditionally constituted by a terrestrial perspective” and that “Painting from this new reality requires a profound contempt for detail and a need to synthesise and transfigure everything.”

Despite his relative youth, Crali played a significant part in aeropittura. His earliest aeropitture represent military planes, Aerial Squadron and Aerial Duel (both 1929). In the 1930s, his paintings became realistic, intending to communicate the experience of flight to the viewer. His best-known work, Nose Dive on the City (1939), shows an aerial dive from the pilot’s point of view, the buildings below drawn in dizzying perspective.

Crali exhibited in Trieste and Padua. In 1932 Marinetti invited him to exhibit in Paris in the first aeropittura exhibition there. He participated in the Rome Quadrennial in 1935, 1939 and 1943 and the Venice Biennale of 1940. At that time Crali was researching signs and scenery, leading in 1933 to his participation in the film exhibition Futuristi Scenotecnica in Rome. In 1936 he exhibited with Dottori and Prampolini in the International Exhibition of Sports Art at the Berlin Olympics.

Crali’s declamatory abilities and his friendship with Marinetti led him to organise Futurist evenings at Gorizia, Udine and Trieste, where he read the manifesto Plastic Illusionism of War and Protecting the Earth which he had co-authored with Marinetti. He also published a Manifesto of Musical Words – Alphabet in Freedom.

 

After the Second World War

Crali lived in Turin after the war, where he continued to promote Futurist events. Despite the ending of the Futurist movement with the death of Marinetti in 1944 and its Fascist reputation, Crali remained attached to its ideals and aesthetic.

Between 1950 and 1958 he lived in Paris, making occasional visits to Britain. He moved to Milan in 1958 where he remained (apart from a five-year period teaching at the Italian Academy of Fine Arts, Cairo) for the rest of his life. In Milan he began to collect and catalogue documents relating to his life and work. He donated his archive and several of his works to the Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Fortunato Depero. 'Little Black and White Devils, Dance of Devils' (Diavoletti neri e bianchi, Danza di diavoli) 1922-23

 

Fortunato Depero (Italian, 1892-1960)
Little Black and White Devils, Dance of Devils (Diavoletti neri e bianchi, Danza di diavoli)
1922-23
Pieced wool on cotton backing
184 x 181cm
MART, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome
Photo: © MART, Archivio fotografico

 

Gerardo Dottori. 'Cimino Home Dining Room Set' (Sala da pranzo di casa Cimino) early 1930s

 

Gerardo Dottori (Italian, 1884-1977)
Cimino Home Dining Room Set (Sala da pranzo di casa Cimino)
early 1930s
Table, chairs, buffet, lamp, and sideboard; wood, glass, crystal, copper with chrome plating, leather, dimensions variable
Private collection
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
Photo: Daniele Paparelli, courtesy Archivi Gerardo Dottori, Perugia, Italy

 

 

Gerardo Dottori

Gerardo Dottori (11 November 1884 – 13 June 1977) was an Italian Futurist painter. He signed the Futurist Manifesto of Aeropainting in 1929. He was associated with the city of Perugia most of his life, living in Milan for six months as a student and in Rome from 1926-39. Dottori’s’ principal output was the representation of landscapes and visions of Umbria, mostly viewed from a great height. Among the most famous of these are Umbrian Spring and Fire in the City, both from the early 1920s; this last one is now housed in the Museo civico di Palazzo della Penna in Perugia, with many of Dottori’s other works. His work was part of the art competitions at the 1932 Summer Olympics and the 1936 Summer Olympics.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Umberto Boccioni. 'Elasticity (Elasticità)' 1912

 

Umberto Boccioni (Italian, 1882-1916)
Elasticity (Elasticità)
1912
Oil on canvas
100 x 100cm
Museo del Novecento, Milan
© Museo del Novecento, Comune di Milano (all legal rights reserved)
Photo: Luca Carrà

 

 

Umberto Boccioni

Umberto Boccioni (19 October 1882 – 17 August 1916) was an influential Italian painter and sculptor. He helped shape the revolutionary aesthetic of the Futurism movement as one of its principal figures. Despite his short life, his approach to the dynamism of form and the deconstruction of solid mass guided artists long after his death. His works are held by many public art museums, and in 1988 the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City organised a major retrospective of 100 pieces. …

Boccioni moved to Milan in 1907. There, early in 1908, he met the Divisionist painter Gaetano Previati. In early 1910 he met Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who had already published his Manifesto del Futurismo (“Manifesto of Futurism”) in the previous year. On 11 February 1910 Boccioni, with Balla, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo and Severini, signed the Manifesto dei pittori futuristi (“Manifesto of Futurist painters”), and on 8 March he read the manifesto at the Politeama Chiarella theatre in Turin.

Boccioni became the main theorist of the artistic movement. “Only when Boccioni, Balla, Severini and a few other Futurists traveled to Paris toward the end of 1911 and saw what Braque and Picasso had been doing did the movement begin to take real shape.” He also decided to be a sculptor after he visited various studios in Paris, in 1912, including those of Georges Braque, Alexander Archipenko, Constantin Brâncuși, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, August Agero and, probably, Medardo Rosso. In 1912 he exhibited some paintings together with other Italian futurists at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, and the following year returned to show his sculptures at the Galerie La Boétie: all related to the elaboration of what Boccioni had seen in Paris, where he had visited the studios of Cubist sculptors, including those of Constantin Brâncuși, Raymond Duchamp-Villon and Alexander Archipenko to further his knowledge of avant-garde sculpture.

In 1914 he published Pittura e scultura futuriste (dinamismo plastico) explaining the aesthetics of the group:

“While the impressionists paint a picture to give one particular moment and subordinate the life of the picture to its resemblance to this moment, we synthesise every moment (time, place, form, colour-tone) and thus paint the picture.”

 

Development of Futurism

Boccioni worked for nearly a year on La città sale or The City Rises, 1910, a huge (2m by 3m) painting, which is considered his turning point into Futurism. “I attempted a great synthesis of labor, light and movement” he wrote to a friend. Upon its exhibition in Milan in May 1911, the painting attracted numerous reviews, mostly admiring. By 1912 it had become a headline painting for the exhibition traveling Europe, the introduction to Futurism. It was sold to the great pianist, Ferruccio Busoni for 4,000 lire that year, and today is frequently on prominent display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, at the entrance to the paintings department.

La risata (1911, The Laugh) is considered Boccioni’s first truly Futurist work. He had fully parted with Divisionism, and now focused on the sensations derived from his observation of modern life. Its public reception was quite negative, compared unfavourably with Three Women, and it was defaced by a visitor, running his fingers through the still fresh paint. Subsequent criticism became more positive, with some considering the painting a response to Cubism. It was purchased by Albert Borchardt, a German collector who acquired 20 Futurist works exhibited in Berlin, including The Street Enters the House (1911) which depicts a woman on a balcony overlooking a busy street. Today the former also is owned by the Museum of Modern Art, and the latter by the Sprengel Museum in Hanover.

Boccioni spent much of 1911 working on a trilogy of paintings titled “Stati d’animo” (“States of Mind”), which he said expressed departure and arrival at a railroad station – The Farewells, Those Who Go, and Those Who Stay. All three paintings were originally purchased by Marinetti, until Nelson Rockefeller acquired them from his widow and later donated them to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Beginning in 1912, with Elasticità or Elasticity (above), depicting the pure energy of a horse, captured with intense chromaticism, he completed a series of Dynamist paintings: Dinamismo di un corpo umano (Human Body), ciclista (Cyclist), Foot-baller, and by 1914 Dinamismo plastico: cavallo + caseggiato (Plastic Dynamism: Horse + Houses). While continuing this focus, he revived his previous interest in portraiture. Beginning with L’antigrazioso (The antigraceful) in 1912 and continuing with I selciatori (The Street Pavers) and Il bevitore (The Drinker) both in 1914.

In 1914 Boccioni published his book, Pittura, scultura futuriste (Futurist Painting and Sculpture), which caused a rift between himself and some of his Futurist comrades. As a result, perhaps, he abandoned his exploration of Dynamism, and instead sought further decomposition of a subject by means of colour. With Horizontal Volumes in 1915 and the Portrait of Ferruccio Busoni in 1916, he completed a full return to figurative painting. Perhaps fittingly, this last painting was a portrait of the maestro who purchased his first Futurist work, The City Rises.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Enrico Prampolini and Maria Ricotti, with cover by Enrico Prampolini. 'Program for the Theater of Futurist Pantomime' (Théâtre de la Pantomine Futuriste) Illustrated leaflet (Paris: M. et J. De Brunn, 1927)

 

Enrico Prampolini and Maria Ricotti, with cover by Enrico Prampolini
Program for the Theater of Futurist Pantomime (Théâtre de la Pantomine Futuriste)
Illustrated leaflet (Paris: M. et J. De Brunn, 1927)
27.5 x 22.7cm
Fonds Alberto Sartoris, Archives de la Construction Moderne–Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland
By permission of heirs of the artist
Photo: Jean-Daniel Chavan

 

Carlo Carrà. 'Interventionist Demonstration' (Manifestazione Interventista) 1914

 

Carlo Carrà
Interventionist Demonstration (Manifestazione Interventista)
1914
Tempera, pen, mica powder, paper glued on cardboard
38.5 x 30cm
Gianni Mattioli Collection, on long-term loan to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome
Photo: Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

 

 

Carlo Carrà

Carlo Carrà (Italian, February 11, 1881 – April 13, 1966) was an Italian painter and a leading figure of the Futurist movement that flourished in Italy during the beginning of the 20th century. In addition to his many paintings, he wrote a number of books concerning art. He taught for many years in the city of Milan.

In 1899-1900, Carrà was in Paris decorating pavilions at the Exposition Universelle, where he became acquainted with contemporary French art. He then spent a few months in London in contact with exiled Italian anarchists, and returned to Milan in 1901. In 1906, he enrolled at Brera Academy (Accademia di Brera) in the city, and studied under Cesare Tallone. In 1910 he signed, along with Umberto Boccioni, Luigi Russolo and Giacomo Balla the Manifesto of Futurist Painters, and began a phase of painting that became his most popular and influential.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Luigi Russolo. "The Art of Noises: Futurist Manifesto" ("L'arte dei rumori: Manifesto futurista") Leaflet (Milan: Direzione del Movimento Futurista, 1913)

 

Luigi Russolo (Italian, 1885-1947)
“The Art of Noises: Futurist Manifesto” (“L’arte dei rumori: Manifesto futurista”)
Leaflet (Milan: Direzione del Movimento Futurista, 1913)
29.2 x 23cm
Wolfsoniana – Fondazione regionale per la Cultura e lo Spettacolo, Genoa
By permission of heirs of the artist
Photo: Courtesy Wolfsoniana – Fondazione regionale per la Cultura e lo Spettacolo, Genoa

 

 

Luigi Russolo

Luigi Carlo Filippo Russolo (30 April 1885 – 6 February 1947) was an Italian Futurist painter, composer, builder of experimental musical instruments, and the author of the manifesto The Art of Noises (1913). He is often regarded as one of the first noise music experimental composers with his performances of noise music concerts in 1913–14 and then again after World War I, notably in Paris in 1921. He designed and constructed a number of noise-generating devices called Intonarumori.

Luigi Russolo was perhaps the first noise artist. His 1913 manifesto, L’Arte dei Rumori (The Art of Noises), stated that the industrial revolution had given modern men a greater capacity to appreciate more complex sounds. Russolo found traditional melodic music confining, and he envisioned noise music as its future replacement.

Russolo designed and constructed a number of noise-generating devices called Intonarumori, and assembled a noise orchestra to perform with them. A performance of his Gran Concerto Futuristico (1917) was met with strong disapproval and violence from the audience, as Russolo himself had predicted.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Mino Somenzi, ed., with words-in-freedom image Airplanes (Aeroplani) by Pino Masnata. 'Futurismo 2, no. 32' (Apr. 16, 1933) Journal (Rome, 1933)

 

Mino Somenzi, ed., with words-in-freedom image Airplanes (Aeroplani) by Pino Masnata
Futurismo 2, no. 32 (Apr. 16, 1933)
Journal (Rome, 1933)
64 x 44cm
Fonds Alberto Sartoris, Archives de la Construction Moderne–Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL), Switzerland
Photo: Jean-Daniel Chavan

 

Fortunato Depero. 'Heart Eaters' (Mangiatori di cuori) 1923

 

Fortunato Depero (Italian, 1892-1960)
Heart Eaters (Mangiatori di cuori)
1923
Painted wood
36.5 x 23 x 10cm
Private collection
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome
Photo: Vittorio Calore

 

Umberto Boccioni. 'Unique Forms of Continuity in Space' (Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio) 1913 (cast 1949)

 

Umberto Boccioni (Italian, 1882-1916)
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio)
1913 (cast 1949)
Bronze
121.3 x 88.9 x 40cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Lydia Winston Malbin, 1989
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Image Source: Art Resource, New York

 

Benedetta (Cappa Marinetti). 'Synthesis of Aerial Communications' (Sintesi delle comunicazioni aeree) 1933-34

 

Benedetta (Cappa Marinetti) (Italian,
Synthesis of Aerial Communications (Sintesi delle comunicazioni aeree)
1933-34
Tempera and encaustic on canvas
324.5 x 199cm
Il Palazzo delle Poste di Palermo, Sicily, Poste Italiane
© Benedetta Cappa Marinetti, used by permission of Vittoria Marinetti and Luce Marinetti’s heirs
Photo: AGR/Riccardi/Paoloni

 

 

Benedetta Cappa

Benedetta Cappa (14 August 1897 – 15 May 1977) was an Italian futurist artist who has had retrospectives at the Walker Art Center and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Her work fits within the second phase of Italian Futurism.

Though she was an artist active in Futurist circles, Cappa felt labels were restrictive and initially rejected the designation. In a 1918 correspondence with F.T. Marinetti she writes, “I am too free and rebellious – I do not want to be restricted. I want only to be me.” Despite entering her marriage with such determined independence, the considerable contributions made by Cappa are often overshadowed by the figure of Marinetti and the vociferous manner with which he directed the movement. Cappa’s body of work spanned a range of media that included pen, paper, paint, metal and textiles. She wrote poetry and prose, signed, and spoke as an individual, but only recently has she garnered independent recognition.

In 1919, Cappa published Spicologia di 1 Uomo, a collection of poetry which incorporates “unusual word placement, typographic experimentation, and visual and auditory correspondences.” Subsequently published in 1924, Le Forze Umane: Romanzo Astratto con Sintesi Grafiche (Human Forces: Abstract Novel with Graphic Synthesis), has a similar structure presented in an extrapolated form. Two images from this novel provide an interesting conceptual contrast. The first, Forze Feminile: Spirale di Dolcezza + Serpe di Fascino (Feminine Forces: Spiral of Sweetness + Serpent of Charm) consists simply of three curved lines, one of which provides a central axis for the other two. The linear composition of the second drawing, Forze Maschili: Armi e Piume (Masculine Forces: Weapons and Feathers), has numerous straight lines and arcs arranged in an impenetrable tangle.

Cappa’s publication of Le Forze Umane was one of three books she has written. The release of her book made many futurists question her allegiance with Futurism, for her book seemed to align more with Neo-Plasticism at the time by many male Futurists who have written reviews on Cappa’s book. Cappa collected all of the reviews in her Librone which can be found at the Getty Research Institute. It was a decision made from many reviewers that Cappa’s first book represents the unwillingness from the reviewers to accept a women’s work as part of Futurism.

The action and aesthetic of the machine age is a trope within Futurism that appears frequently in Cappa’s artwork. One early abstract painting, Velocità di Motoscafo, (Velocity of a Motorboat), (1923-24), contains many of the elements that would come to mark Cappa’s painting style. Well defined, curvilinear shapes, painted in gradient tones are compositionally arranged to imply objects in motion: “… the interplay of ‘force lines,’ become the subject.” The artist’s exploration of the machine continued with Luci + Rumori di un Treno Notturno, (Lights + Sounds of a Night Train), (c. 1924) and with Aeropittura (1925). A trip to Latin America in 1926 was followed by a series of abstract paintings done in gouache on paper.

As Cappa developed her artistic practice, her influence within the Futurist Movement expanded. Between the end of World War I and the early 1930s, there was an ideological transformation which led to the period commonly known as Second Wave Futurism. The notably misogynistic tone of the foundation texts was largely muted as the number of female Futurists increased. Several other themes, such as Technology, Speed, and Mechanisation carried over into this new incarnation of Futurism. For this reason, Cappa’s oil painting Il Grande X (1931) is considered the culmination of one era and the prelude to another. In the two decades since F.T. Marinetti’s manifesto, the brash avant-garde movement had largely become the establishment.

It was the Futurists’ affiliation with the state establishment that would lead to one of Cappa’s most recognisable paintings, her mural series for the Conference Room at the Palazzo delle Poste in Palermo, Sicily. The building is an amalgam of works by several Futurist artists. Designed by the Rationalist architect, Angiolo Mazzoni, the Poste Italiane houses tile wall mosaics by Luigi Colombo Filìa and Enrico Prampolini in addition to the murals by Benendetta. The shared themes of synthesis and communication are critical to the aesthetic program of the Futurist structure. Completed between 1933 and 1934, each painting depicts a form of information transfer, including terrestrial, maritime, aerial, radio, telegraphic and telephonic communication. The pale blue and green colour palette, along with the use of tempera and encaustic media, were designed to invoke resonances with Pompeian frescos. The collection represents the idealised speed and efficiency of message delivery in the modern world.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

 

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08
May
14

Exhibition: ‘Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray – Framing Sculpture’ at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Exhibition dates: 8th February – 11th May 2014

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray – Framing Sculpture' at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2014

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray – Framing Sculpture
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2014
Foto / Photo: Gert-Jan de Rooij, Amsterdam

 

 

What a magnificent exhibition. We all know Brancusi and Man Ray but it is the work of Medardo Rosso that surprises and delights here, an artist I admit I knew nothing about before this posting. What a revelation, both his sculptures and photographs. I must try and do a whole posting just on his photographs!

The two self-portraits of the artists in the studio are telling… Rosso, pensive, brooding, with a stack of chopped wood surrounding him, face wreathed in shadow, head titled slightly down and hands stuffed in pockets; Brancusi, seated on a plinth, legs crossed, swarthy arms folded replete with large hands, staring directly at the camera and surrounded by his work. Rosso in malleable darkness, Brancusi in towering light. The photographs reflect their respective personalities and inform the art which represents them.

Marcus

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Many thankx to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on the image for a larger version of the art.

 

Alessio delli Castelli considers the Italian sculptor’s photographic legacy.

“Medardo Rosso was born in Turin in 1858 and died in Milan 1928. However, he spent most of his life away from Italy, in Paris especially, from where he travelled to all the major European capitals. It was in Paris that, towards the close of the 19th century, he emerged alongside Auguste Rodin as a serious contender for the title of father of modern sculpture. Yet it was Rodin who achieved universal recognition. In spite of Rosso’s influence on sculptors such as Constantin Brancusi – whose Sleeping Muse (1909-10), with its radically abstracted features of a female head, is strongly reminiscent of Rosso’s Madame X (1896) – he was long held hostage by a provincial criticism which saw his practice confined, chronologically, thematically and formally, to the 19th century. Although it is true that Rosso only created two original sculptural works in the 20th century, to claim that he was no longer a practicing artist would be to overlook the variations he made of his sculptures, and the copies from antiquity. More importantly, it would be to dismiss his photographic work of that period merely as images of sculptures that already existed. This would mean ignoring the fact that his photography showed all the signs of rigorous artistic investigation – and was not, as critics in the 20th century often declared, indicative of either an accident that injured his leg and made him weak or a more general creative block.

It is only in recent years that Rosso’s photographs have acquired the status of art objects in and of themselves…”

Read more on the Frieze Magazine website

 

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray – Framing Sculpture' at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2014

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray – Framing Sculpture' at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2014

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray – Framing Sculpture' at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2014

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray – Framing Sculpture' at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2014

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray – Framing Sculpture' at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2014

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray – Framing Sculpture
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2014
Foto / Photos: Gert-Jan de Rooij, Amsterdam

 

 

In mythology, Leda is a girl who is seduced by Zeus who turns her into a swan. In the Brancusi sculpture, Leda (foreground, above) is that metamorphosis. The swan is an animal whose body is often associated with a hybrid identity between male and female. His neck is close to a phallic shape while her body has feminine attributes. The bird and woman, male and female mingle in the same sculptural movement. This transfiguration is reflected in the complex forms of sculpture, asymmetrical contours, the offset top shape intersecting with the lower form, giving rise to multiple passages and perceptions.

In 1932, Brancusi sculpture adds a large polished steel disc which suggests the presence of water and Leda is reflected in the mirror which changes its shape. Modifications qu’accentuera still provide a motor and a ball bearing arranged in the circular plate. Within the workshop, the body of Leda is in a state of constant metamorphosis. The shimmer of light on the surface of polished bronze sculpture blends with its reflection in the steel circle and absorbs its environment. Leda becomes a pure luminous presence. Weight and lightness, balance and imbalance are the same event within a continuous time duration in the sculptures of Constantin Brancusi.

Translated from the French on the Constantin Brancusi web page of the Centre Pompidou website [Online] Cited 05/05/2014 no longer available online

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray – Framing Sculpture' at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2014

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray – Framing Sculpture
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2014
Foto / Photo: Gert-Jan de Rooij, Amsterdam

 

 

“In the spring of 2014 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen brings together works from all over the world by three artists who were decisive for the development of modern art. This is the first exhibition to combine sculptures by Brancusi, Rosso and Man Ray together with their photographs, affording a unique insight into the artists’ working methods.

Masterpieces that have rarely or never been seen in the Netherlands will be lent by important museums such as the Centre Pompidou, MoMA and Tate. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will show more than 40 sculptures and hundred photographs by Constantin Brancusi (Hobita 1876 – Paris 1957), Medardo Rosso (Turin 1858 – Milan 1928) and Man Ray (Philadelphia 1890 – Paris 1976). The exhibition will feature sculptures such as Brancusi’s Princesse X (1915-1916) and Rosso’s Ecce Puer (1906) alongside works by Man Ray from the museum’s collection, including the sculpture L’Énigme d’Isidore Ducasse (1920 / 1971). Presenting the sculptures together with the artists’ photographs of their sculptures reveals their often-surprising perspectives on their own works.

 

Framing Sculpture

Brancusi, Rosso and Man Ray employed photography not so much as a means of recording their work. The photographs show how they interpreted their sculptures and how they wanted them to be seen by others. Brancusi is considered the father of modern sculpture with his highly simplified sculptures of people and animals. In his photographs he experimented with light and reflection so that his sculptures absorb their environment and appear to come to life. Rosso is the artist who introduced impressionism in sculpture. The indistinct contours of his apparently quickly modelled figures in plaster and wax make them appear to fuse with their surroundings. Rosso cut up the soft-focus photographs of his work, made them into collages and reworked them with ink so that the sculptures appear even flatter and more contourless. Man Ray is best known as a photographer but was also a painter and sculptor. His choice of materials was unconventional: he combined existing objects to create new works, comparable to the ‘readymades’ of his friend Marcel Duchamp. Man Ray’s experimental use of photography led him to make photographs without the use of a camera. He made these so-called ‘rayographs’ by placing objects directly on photographic paper and exposing them briefly to light, leaving behind a ghostly impression.

Press release from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'L'Énigme d'Isidore Ducasse' (The Riddle of Isidore Ducasse) 1920 (1971)

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
L’Énigme d’Isidore Ducasse (The Riddle of Isidore Ducasse)
1920 (1971)
Iron, textile, rope, cardboard
45.4 x 60 x 24cm
Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
© Man Ray Trust / ADAGP, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2013.

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'L'Énigme d'Isidore Ducasse' (The Riddle of Isidore Ducasse) 1920 (1975)

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
L’Énigme d’Isidore Ducasse (The Riddle of Isidore Ducasse)
1920 (1975)
Gelatin silver print
47.5 x 59cm
Courtesy Fondazione Marconi, Milan
© Man Ray Trust / ADAGP, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2013

 

Medardo Rosso (Italian, 1858-1928) 'Enfant à la Bouchée de pain' (Child in the soup kitchen) 1897 (1892-1893)

 

Medardo Rosso (Italian, 1858-1928)
Enfant à la Bouchée de pain (Child in the soup kitchen)
1897 (1892-1893)
Wax over plaster
46 x 49 x 37cm
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome

 

Medardo Rosso (Italian, 1858-1928) ''Enfant à la Bouchée de pain' in the Cézanne room at the Salon d'Automne' 1904

 

Medardo Rosso (Italian, 1858-1928)
Enfant à la Bouchée de pain in the Cézanne room at the Salon d’Automne
1904
Felatin silver print
12.3 x 15.5cm
Private collection

 

 

The Italian sculptor Medardo Rosso (1858-1928) is the oldest and most traditional of the three artists. He stands in the Impressionist tradition of French sculptor August Rodin. Rosso has made many portraits of children, which he adored. They were one of his favourite subjects. Rosso kept working on the same pieces throughout his career, making changes to their titles, shapes or materials. Sometimes he combined materials or poured another substance over the original. A work of plaster then became a wax sculpture. Other times he made two different versions of the same image, using different materials…

Rosso… used his camera to present his art in the way he preferred. By taking pictures and displaying them next to the actual sculptures he could show the audience what was, in his opinion, the right angle to look at his piece. Of course, everyone is free to walk around the sculpture, but the photographs show what the artist had in mind when he created it. Many times he would cut up his pictures, tear away corners or colour them with ink. This way he even reinterpreted his interpretations. Together the sculptures, photographs and collages give a complete picture of the work by Medardo Rosso. Never before have there been so many of his works on display in the Netherlands.

Text by Evita Bookelmann on the Kunstpedia website [Online] Cited 05/05/2014 no longer available online

 

Constantin Brancusi. 'Tête d’enfant endormi' (Head of a Sleeping Child) 1906-07

 

Constantin Brancusi (Romanian, 1876-1957)
Tête d’enfant endormi (Head of a Sleeping Child)
1906-07
Plaster, coloured dark brown
10.8 x 13.6 x 15.2cm
Private collection

 

 

A previously unknown sculpture by Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) can be seen in Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray – Framing Sculpture, the exhibition opening at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen on Saturday. The museum is especially delighted by the arrival of Tête d’enfant endormie (Head of a Sleeping Child, 1906-07). This early sculpture is an important key work in Brancusi’s development of his famous ‘ovoid’.

The exhibition, which features more than forty sculptures by Constantin Brancusi, Medardo Rosso and Man Ray and a hundred vintage photographs taken by them, runs in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen for three months from 8 February. The plaster sculpture was purchased at a sale by a French private collector. Leading expert Friedrich Teja Bach has recently confirmed that it is a version of the ‘head of a sleeping child’. Curators Francesco Stocchi and Peter van der Coelen remarked, “It is unusual for a previously unknown work by Brancusi to turn up at a sale. Works by Brancusi are rare and almost all of them are in prominent museum collections like those of the Centre Pompidou, the Tate and MoMA.”

 

The Road to Abstraction

The child’s head with natural features is in the tradition of the contemporary Impressionists Auguste Rodin and Medardo Rosso. At the same time, this early work is a starting point in Brancusi’s journey towards a more abstract style, which culminated in an entirely smooth oval form, devoid of any facial features. This process can also be seen in the photographs taken by Brancusi himself, in which he pictured Tête d’enfant endormie in his studio with Le Nouveau-Ne II, a work he made ten years later. The exhibition in Rotterdam examines the artistic practices and development of Brancusi, Rosso and Man Ray by showing the sculptures alongside the photographs they took of them.

 

Painted Bronze

Brancusi’s oeuvre contains a number of recurring subjects, which the artist executed in a variety of materials, including plaster, marble and bronze. This allowed Brancusi to explore various effects, such as the reflection of light. The signed Tête d’enfant endormie is an early version in the series. It is unusual that Brancusi painted the plaster, making it look like bronze.

Press release from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

 

Constantin Brancusi. 'La Muse endormie' (Sleeping muse) 1910

 

Constantin Brancusi (Romanian, 1876-1957)
La Muse endormie (Sleeping muse)
1910
Bronze
16.1 x 27.7 x 19.3cm
Arthur Jerome Eddy Memorial Collection. The Art Institute of Chicago
© 2013 c/o Pictoright Amsterdam

 

Man Ray. 'Noire et blanche (Black and white)' 1926

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Noire et blanche (Black and white)
1926
Gelatin silver print
18 x 23.5cm
© Man Ray Trust / ADAGP – PICTORIGHT / Telimage – 2013

 

 

Man Ray’s Noire et blanche is a photograph exemplary of Surrealist art. The striking faces of the pale model and the dark mask have a doubling effect. This repetition is a reminder that a photograph is a double of what it represents, namely, a sign or an index of reality. In Surrealism the act of doubling indicates that we are all divided subjects made up of the conscious and unconscious. In reading this photograph as typical of primitivism, the woman can be understood as European civilisation and the mask as “primitive” Africa. The image draws a parallel between the two faces presenting them as related to each another. The title “black and white” is a word play because the order is reversed when reading the image left to right. The artist also printed a negative version of this image. The photograph was first published in Vogue. It is a portrait of Kiki of Montparnasse, Man Ray’s lover and model at the time the photograph was taken.

Text from the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam website [Online] Cited 05/05/2014 no longer available online

 

Medardo Rosso. 'Enfant malade (Ziek kind)' c. 1909

 

Medardo Rosso (Italian, 1858-1928)
Enfant malade (Ziek kind)
c. 1909
Aristotype
7.9 x 6.3cm
Private collection

 

Medardo Rosso. 'Enfant malade (Ziek kind) 1895 (1903-1904)

 

Medardo Rosso (Italian, 1858-1928)
Enfant malade (Ziek kind)
1895 (1903-1904)
Bronze
25.5 x 14.5 x 16.5cm
Collectie Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan

 

Medardo Rosso. 'Madame X' 1896

 

Medardo Rosso (Italian, 1858-1928)
Madame X
1896
Wax
300mm
Venice, Ca’ Pesaro

 

 

“Con una coerenza assoluta, insensibile alle polemiche e alle controversie che la sua arte suscitava, e più ancora al disprezzo oltraggioso di cui lo faceva segno la cultura ufficiale, il Rosso deduceva alle estreme conseguenze le premesse fondamentali della sua visione. Davanti ai nostri occhi una sgomentante superficie d’ombra da cui emerge la lama trepida e vibrante di un essere vivente, che contesta al nulla misterioso che lo incalza e in cui in un soffio si dissolverà, il suo diritto alla luce, cioè all’essenza vitale. Le premesse letterarie, le suggestioni filosofiche o vagamente esoteriche sono totalmente assorbite nella suprema qualità stilistica: lo scultore modula ed assottiglia la materia al limite del possibile, sull’orlo dell’astrazione assoluta, ricercandone spasmodicamente ogni vibrazione musicale; l’equazione scultura-luce-pittura poteva dirsi verificata.”

“With absolute consistency, insensitive to the controversies and disputes that his art aroused, and even more outrageous contempt of which he did hold official culture, Rosso deduced to the extreme the basic premises of his vision. Before our eyes a daunting shadow surface which shows the blade trembling and vibrating of a living being, which criticises the mysterious anything that presses him and when you blow in a dissolver, its right in the light, that all ‘vital’ essence. The premises literary, philosophical or vaguely esoteric suggestions are totally absorbed in the supreme quality of style: the sculptor modulation and tapering the matter to the extent possible, the absolute brink of abstraction, seeking spasmodically every musical vibration; the equation of light-sculpture-painting could be said to be verified.”

Terrible translation by Google translate of an anonymous text = but so beautiful at the same time!

 

Constantin Brancusi. 'Princesse X' (Princess X) c. 1930

 

Constantin Brancusi (Romanian, 1876-1957)
Princesse X (Princess X)
c. 1930
Gelatin silver print
29.7 x 23.7cm
Collection Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Paris
© 2013 c/o Pictoright Amsterdam
Photo: Bertrand Prévost

 

Constantin Brancusi. 'Princesse X (Princess X)' 1915-1916

 

Constantin Brancusi (Romanian, 1876-1957)
Princesse X (Princess X)
1915-1916
Bronze
61.7 x 40.5 x 22.2cm
Collection Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Paris
© 2013 c/o Pictoright Amsterdam
Photo: Adam Rzepka

 

 

Princess X is a sculptured rendering of the French princess, Marie Bonaparte, by the artist Constantin Brâncusi. Princess Bonaparte was the great-grand niece of the emperor Napoleon Bonaparte…

According to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Brâncusi had been “at the center of two of modern arts most notorious scandals.” One of the scandals being that the Salon des Indépendants, in Paris where Brâncusi practiced his trade, discontinued the display of Princess X from its establishment for its apparent obscene content, as some thought it looked like a penis. After having his art taken off display, Brâncusi was shocked. He declared the incident a misunderstanding. He had created Princess X not as a sculpture depicting a more masculine subject, but the object of feminine desire and vanity.

After much accusation, Brâncuși insisted the sculpture had been his rendition of Marie Bonaparte. Brâncusi discussed the comparison of the bronze figure to the princess. He described his detest of Marie, as a “vain woman.” He claimed she went as far as placing a hand mirror on the table at mealtimes, so she could gaze upon herself. The sculpture’s C-like form reveals a woman looking over and gazing down, as if looking into an object. The large anchors of the sculpture resemble the “beautiful bust” which she possessed. Without knowing the context, to a viewer Princess X could look like an erect penis. Brâncusi allows the princess to gaze upon herself in an eternal loop locked in the bronze sculpture.

The style of Brâncusi is one that “was largely fuelled by myths, folklore, and primitive culture,” this combined with the modern materials and tools Brâncuși used to sculpt, “formed a unique contrast… resulting in a distinctive kind of modernity and timelessness.” The technique Brâncusi was known for and used on Princess X could be mistaken for a penis, but in fact it was the simple form of a woman.

“What my art is aiming at, is above all realism; pursue the inner hidden reality, the very essence of objects in their own intrinsic fundamental nature: this is my only preoccupation.” – Constantine Brâncusi.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Constantin Brancusi. 'View of the Studio with Maïastra' 1917

 

Constantin Brancusi (Romanian, 1876-1957)
View of the Studio with Maïastra
1917
Gelatin silver print
23.9 x 17.8cm
Collection Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Paris
© 2013 c/o Pictoright Amsterdam

 

 

According to Constantin Brancusi’s own testimony, his preoccupation with the image of the bird as a plastic form began as early as 1910. With the theme of the Maiastra (1910-18), he initiated a series of about thirty sculptures of birds.

The word maïastra means “master” or “chief” in Brancusi’s native Romanian, but the title refers specifically to a magically beneficent, dazzlingly plumed bird in Romanian folklore. Brancusi’s mystical inclinations and his deeply rooted interest in peasant superstition make the motif an apt one. The golden plumage of the Maiastra is expressed in the reflective surface of the bronze; the bird’s restorative song seems to issue from within the monumental puffed chest, through the arched neck, out of the open beak. The heraldic, geometric aspect of the figure contrasts with details such as the inconsistent size of the eyes, the distortion of the beak aperture, and the cocking of the head slightly to one side. The elevation of the bird on a saw-tooth base lends it the illusion of perching. The subtle tapering of form, the relationship of curved to hard-edge surfaces, and the changes of axis tune the sculpture so finely that the slightest alteration from version to version reflects a crucial decision in Brancusi’s development of the theme.

Seven other versions of Maiastra have been identified and located: three are marble and four bronze…

Extract from Lucy Flint. “Constantin Brancusi: Maiastra,” on the Guggenheim website [Online] Cited 17/03/2021

 

Constantin Brancusi. 'Self-portrait in the studio' c. 1934

 

Constantin Brancusi (Romanian, 1876-1957)
Self-portrait in the studio
c. 1934
Gelatin silver print
39.7 x 29.7cm
Collection Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Paris
© 2013 c/o Pictoright Amsterdam
Photo: Philippe Migeat

 

Man Ray. 'Rayographie' (Rayograph) 1925

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Rayographie (Rayograph)
1925
Photogram
50 x 40.5cm
Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
© Man Ray Trust / ADAGP, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2013

 

Man Ray. 'Le Violon d'Ingres' (Ingres's Violin or The Hobby) 1924

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Le Violon d’Ingres (Ingres’s Violin or The Hobby)
1924
Gelatine silver print
17.2 x 22.4cm
Private collection Turin
© Man Ray Trust / ADAGP, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2013

 

Man Ray. 'Self-portrait with the lamp' 1934

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Self-portrait with the lamp
1934
Gelatin silver print
10. 8 x 8cm
© Man Ray Trust / ADAGP, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2013

 

Medardo Rosso. 'Self-portrait in the studio' c. 1906

 

Medardo Rosso (Italian, 1858-1928)
Self-portrait in the studio
c. 1906
Modern contact print of the original glass negative
12.7 x 13cm
Private collection

 

'Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray - Framing Sculpture' exhibition poster

 

Constantin Brancusi, La Muse endormie, 1910. Arthur Jerome Eddy Memorial Collection. The Art Institute of Chicago. © 2013 c/o Pictoright Amsterdam /
Medardo Rosso, Enfant malade, c. 1909. Private collection /
Man Ray, Noire et blanche, 1926
© Man Ray Trust / ADAGP – PICTORIGHT / Telimage – 2013
Design: Thonik.

 

 

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
3015 CX Rotterdam
The Netherlands
Phone: +31 (0)10 44.19.400

Opening hours:
Tuesdays to Sundays, 11am – 5pm

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen website

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14
Sep
13

Exhibition: ‘Piero Manzoni. When Bodies Became Art’ at Städel Museum, Frankfurt

Exhibition dates: 26th June – 22nd September 2013

 

Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Achrome' 1958

 

Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933-1963)
Achrome
1958
Kaolin on canvas
50 x 69.5cm
Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milan, in collaboration with Gagosian Gallery
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

 

 

A slight switch in gears for the next two postings. Conceptual, sculptural, minimal, monochromatic, corporeal, haptically varied surfaces that are absolutely fascinating…

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the Städel Museum for allowing me to publish the artwork in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the art.

 

Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Achrome' 1957-1963

 

Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933-1963)
Achrome
1957-1963
Kaolin on canvas
80 x 100cm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

 

Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Achrome' 1958

 

Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933-1963)
Achrome
1958
Kaolin on canvas
160 x 130cm
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013
Courtesy FaMa Gallery, Verona

 

Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Achrome' 1962

 

Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933-1963)
Achrome
1962
Pebbles and kaolin on canvas
70 x 50cm
Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milan, in collaboration with Gagosian Gallery
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

 

Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Alfabeto' (Alphabet) 1959

 

Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933-1963)
Alfabeto (Alphabet)
1959
Printed paper and pencil on cardboard
70 x 50cm
Neues Museum Weimar
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

 

Ennio Vicario. 'Manzoni in his studio in Via Fiori Oscuri' 1958

 

Ennio Vicario (Italian, b. 1935)
Manzoni in his studio in Via Fiori Oscuri
1958

 

Ennio Vicario. 'Manzoni in his studio in Via Fiori Oscuri' 1958

 

Ennio Vicario (Italian, b. 1935)
Manzoni in his studio in Via Fiori Oscuri
1958

 

 

Despite his short career, Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933‒1963), who died an early death at the age of twenty-nine, is regarded as one of the most momentous representatives of Italian art after 1945. Manzoni would have celebrated his eightieth birthday on July 13, 2013. The Städel will pay tribute to this key figure of the European post-war avant-garde with a comprehensive survey to mark the occasion exactly fifty years after the artist’s death. Piero Manzoni. When Bodies Became Art will be the first Manzoni retrospective ever to be staged in the German-speaking world. The exhibition, on display from June 26 to September 22, 2013, will highlight the radical character of the artist’s multifaceted position: Manzoni not only submitted Duchamp’s concept of the ready-made to a far-reaching revision, but also thought central discourses of Modernism like monochromy through to the end and opened painting into the fields of the everyday world and commodity aesthetics. With works like Merda d’artista – (allegedly) 30 grams of artist’s shit in a strictly limited edition – or Socle du monde (Base of the World, 1961) – a pedestal elevating the world to an artwork – Manzoni created two icons within the more recent history of art. More than one hundred works from all phases of Manzoni’s productive career will offer complex insights into a still persuasive and influential oeuvre between Art Informel and the emergence of a new concept of art, Modernism and neo-avant-garde, art and the everyday world. Manzoni’s still unbroken influence on contemporary art production will be illustrated in the exhibition by works of the artists Erwin Wurm (b. 1954), Leni Hoffmann (b. 1962), and Bernard Bazile (b. 1952), which – offering an essayistic introduction to the show ‒explore central dimensions of Manzoni’s oeuvre regarding their relevance to the present.

“Though Piero Manzoni had a pivotal position in the cross-European ZERO network and, as a breathtaking innovator of the concept of art, strikes us hardly less avant­garde today, he is far less known than many of his ZERO colleagues in these parts. Fifty years after his sudden death, we want to change this situation with the first presentation of Manzoni’s work in a museum outside Italy for more than two decades,” says Max Hollein, Director of the Städel Museum.

“The exhibition is not only aimed at shedding light on the wide variety of Manzoni’s work produced within only a few years, but also at examining his enormous impact on the paradigm change in the art of the 1960s. Manzoni actually paved the way for today’s art, exercising an influence on Body Art and Performance Art, as well as on Conceptual Art and Land Art,” explains Dr. Martin Engler, Head of the Städel’s Contemporary Art Collection and curator of the show.

Piero Manzoni was born the son of Valeria Meroni and Egisto Manzoni, Count of Chiosca and Poggiolo, in Soncino, Lombardy, on July 13, 1933. He began to study law in 1951 and philosophy in 1955, when he also presented his first solo exhibition in Soncino. This was about the time he got to know artists of the CoBrA group, of the “Spatialist” movement around Lucio Fontana, and finally the “Arte Nucleare” group he joined in 1957. It was in Rotterdam where he presented his first solo show abroad in 1958. One year after, Manzoni founded the Azimut Gallery in Milan together with Enrico Castellani. The dato Gallery was the first to exhibit his work in Frankfurt in 1961. At the age of twenty-nine, Piero Manzoni died from a heart attack in his studio in Milan.

Piero Manzoni. When Bodies Became Art opens on the ground floor of the Städel’s Exhibition Building with early works by the artist, which oscillate between informal grounds and strongly abstracted figurativeness. Mirroring the agent provocateur and avant-gardist’s mediating role within the international ZERO network, his early oeuvre is displayed next to selected works by such contemporaries as Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, or Yves Klein, as well as by ZERO artists like Günther Uecker or Heinz Mack. Thus, the presentation conveys an idea of both Manzoni’s intricate network of relationships and the interaction and exchange with his closely affiliated colleagues in Düsseldorf, Amsterdam, Frankfurt am Main, Paris, or Copenhagen right from the beginning.

In the adjoining, completely open exhibition space, forty-three works of Manzoni’s central Achromes series provide the basis of the presentation ‒or rather interlock the artist’s different strands of production: a band running along all four outside walls unfolds a seamless chronology of this epochal group of works, which spans the entire exhibition. Between 1957 and his death in 1963, Manzoni produced about six-hundred of these paintings without colour, whose different forms of appearance made them a background of reference for his whole oeuvre. Thanks to the open exhibition architecture the Achromes enclose the artist’s performative, body-related workgroups presented in the centre of the hall with the help of a freestanding architectural display.

Manzoni did without any direct artistic gesture when creating his “colourless” works. His “white” painting, defined by the absence of colour – white or “achrome” meaning in the colour of the material for him – takes a special position in the context of the international ZERO movement and its turn toward monochromy: Manzoni saw his Achromes as paintings in spite of their ultimate reduction on the one hand, yet extended them by everyday elements like rolls or Styrofoam by body and space on the other. Employing materials such as plaster of Paris, kaolin, or synthetic fibres, he relied on means with sculptural qualities which initiated a transition process from the picture into a third, corporeal dimension. The velvety, satiny, shining and haptically varied surfaces show the conceptual severity that characterises the description of this aesthetic concept to be a lie.

 

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

 

Exhibition views of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, 2013
Photo: Alex Kraus
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

 

 

After his reduction of colour, Manzoni also radically reduced its counterpart, the line, to the core of its essence. Starting in 1959, Manzoni produced more than one hundred and thirty conceptual works he categorised as Linee (Lines). This group confronts us with the idea of the isolated line as a reduced artistic gesture: the uniform horizontal lines drawn on long strips of paper were rolled up in cardboard tubes and thus hidden from the eye. The works are presented in their tubes positioned upright like figurines. The highlight of this series is definitely the line Manzoni drew at a newspaper’s printers in Herning, Denmark, in 1960: it was more than seven kilometres long and stored in a zinc cylinder.

Manzoni’s endeavours as an artist centred on the issue of the body, an issue consistently derived from the corporeality of his Achromes and Linee. From the late 1950s on, he also dedicated himself to two further series: Corpi d’aria (Bodies of Air) and Fiato d’artista (Artist’s Breath) ‒ works vacillating between object and biology, between body and concept. The exhibited balloons, formerly filled with their owners’ or Manzoni’s breath, related to a body discourse that anticipated the 1970s and was also reflected in other works by the artist like in the performance Consumazione dell’arte (Consumption of Art, 1960), in which he marked hard-boiled eggs with his thumbprint and offered them to the audience to eat. The thumbprint is to be read as Manzoni’s most reduced physical trace which becomes a sign of his identity as individual, body, and artist.

The provocative impact of Manzoni’s probably best known group of works, Merda d’artista (Artist’s Shit, 1961), is still unbroken even five decades after the artist’s death: thirty grams of artist’s shit in strictly limited compact cans, which were allegedly sold on the art market for the price of gold. This series may be understood as a logical continuation of Manzoni’s earlier art consumption performances: the artist’s body becomes the biological medium for the production of art, and Duchamp’s ready-made finds itself grounded in human biology. The exhibition comprises eleven cans of this series combining high and low, the spiritual and the abstract with the concrete and the physical and thus radically extends the traditional concept of art.

The resulting discourse of the body finds its culmination in the artist’s Sculture viventi (Living Sculptures, 1961) displayed in the show. Declaring bodies to be art by means of a pedestal, these works by Manzoni appropriate man as a living work of art: whoever steps onto the pedestal is elevated to a living sculpture and object of art for the time being. Going beyond the concept of the ready-made, Manzoni made the body the material of his art. His approach involved the viewer and opened the door for the Actionist Art of the 1960s and 1970s. The work Socle du monde (Base of the World, 1961), which is also among the Städel’s exhibits, focuses on the whole world at once: a plinth presumably placed upside down elevates the world, including man, to a work of art in an all-embracing manner.

The presentation of three contemporary positions – Erwin Wurm (b. 1954), Leni Hoffmann (b. 1962), and Bernard Bazile (b. 1952) – provides an essayistic introduction to the show in the foyer of the Exhibition Building, a foreword exploring central dimensions of Manzoni’s oeuvre regarding their relevance to the present. The Austrian artist Erwin Wurm will present the visitor as a living sculpture in one of his One Minute Sculptures he conceived especially for the show at the Städel. Leni Hoffmann’s re-edition of the longest line from Manzoni’s series Linee follows up the present reception of the artist’s work by realising a well-nigh endless line on the rotary press of a daily newspaper. The French artist Bernhard Bazile will show two of his works. In his film project Die Besitzer (The Owners) he interviews forty-nine collectors whose holdings comprise a sample of Manzoni’s Merda d’artista and, talking about the motives for their acquisition, reflect on the artist’s oeuvre far beyond the actual subject of the conversation. The show also comprises the Merda d’artista sample Bazile opened in 1989 and since then presents as his own work under the title Boîte ouverte de Piero Manzoni.

The exhibition Piero Manzoni. When Bodies Became Art highlights the achievements of an artist who, in a radically innovative way, succeeded in condensing issues of late Modernism into a differentiated oeuvre that would prove to be a landmark for contemporary art. Today, Manzoni’s works mark a key position that has given birth to a conceptual discourse of the body and become the yardstick for a new, extended understanding of art which still clearly informs today’s debates.

Press release from the Städel Museum website

 

Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Paradoxus Smith' 1957

 

Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933-1963)
Paradoxus Smith
1957
Oil on board
100 x 130cm
The Sander Collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

 

Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Milano et-mitologiaa' (Milan and mythology) 1956

 

Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933-1963)
Milano et-mitologiaa (Milan and mythology)
1956
Oil on board
95 x 130cm
Private Collection Milan
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

 

Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Socle du monde' (Base of the world) 1961

 

Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933-1963)
Socle du monde (Base of the world)
1961
Iron, bronze
82 x 100 x 100cm
HEART – Herning Museum of Contemporary Art
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

 

Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Base magica - Scultura vivente' (Magic Base - Living sculpture) 1961

 

Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933-1963)
Base magica – Scultura vivente (Magic Base – Living sculpture)
1961
Wood, metal, felt
79.5 x 79.5 x 60cm
Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milan, in collaboration with Gagosian Gallery
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

 

Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Fiato d'artista' (Artist's breath) 1960

 

Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933-1963)
Fiato d’artista (Artist’s breath)
1960
Rubber balloon, string, lead seal, brass, wood
18 x 18cm
Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milan, in collaboration with Gagosian Gallery
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

 

Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Merda d'artista N.° 038' (Artist's shit N.° 038) 1961

 

Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933-1963)
Merda d’artista N.° 038 (Artist’s shit N.° 038)
1961
Artist’s shit, printed paper, tin can
Private collection
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

 

Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Linea m 3,54' (Line 3.54 m) 1959

 

Piero Manzoni (Italian, 1933-1963)
Linea m 3,54 (Line 3.54 m)
1959
23 x 6 cm
Ink on paper, cardboard container
Consolandi Collection
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

 

 

Städel Museum
Schaumainkai 63
60596 Frankfurt

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Wednesday, Friday – Sunday 10.00am – 6.00pm
Thursday 10.00am – 9.00pm
Closed Mondays

Städel Museum website

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13
Dec
10

Exhibition: ‘Michelangelo: The Drawings of a Genius’ at Albertina, Vienna

Exhibition dates: 8th October 2010 – 9th January 2011

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti. 'Male Nude Seen From the Back With a Flag Staff' c. 1504

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564)
Male Nude Seen From the Back With a Flag Staff
c. 1504
© Albertina, Vienna

 

 

The delineation of the body, the curvature and compression of muscles, the texture like that of rubbing the thumb and fingers together, the colour, the tension between form and space – all glorious!

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the Albertina for allowing me to publish the fabulous drawings in the posting. Please click on the drawings for a larger version of the image.

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti. 'Standing Male Nude Seen From Behind' 1501-04

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564)
Standing Male Nude Seen From Behind
1501-04
© Albertina, Vienna

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti. 'Pietà' around 1530-36

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564)
Pietà
around 1530-36
© Albertina, Vienna

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti. 'The Risen Christ' c. 1532

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564)
The Risen Christ
c. 1532
The Royal Collection
© 2009, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti. 'Study of a Seated Young Man and Two Studies of the Right Arm' (Recto), around 1511

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564)
Study of a Seated Young Man and Two Studies of the Right Arm (Recto)
around 1511
© Albertina, Vienna

 

 

In a major exhibition scheduled for autumn and winter 2010, the Albertina will present around one hundred of the most beautiful drawings by Michelangelo. Precious works from the Graphic Arts Collection of the Albertina, as well as important loans from museums and private collections in Europe and the United States, will offer a hitherto unparalleled overview of the great Florentine’s entire oeuvre. 
The focus will be on the figural drawings by Michelangelo, who will be introduced here as the genius of a period of change, with his versatile talents as a draftsman, painter, architect, and sculptor. 
The show traces Michelangelo’s career from the artist’s juvenile works and designs for The Battle of Cascina to the world-famous frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, the ingenious drawings he presented to Tommaso de’ Cavalieri, and the Crucifixion scenes dating from the artist’s late period, when he was almost eighty years old. At the same time, new clues as to the dating of individual works will be provided. Projections of the monumental ceiling frescoes, the incorporation of plaster casts of Michelangelo’s sculptures, as well as paintings by other artists based on the master’s designs are meant to illustrate the dimensions and impact of his art. New paths of didactic presentation will be forged through a documentation of contemporary history and the artist’s environment.

Between 8 October 2010 and 9 January 2011, the Albertina presents the first major Michelangelo exhibition in more than twenty years. This display of 120 out of the artist’s most precious drawings offers a comprehensive insight into the work of this great genius. The sheets come from the Albertina’s own holdings, as well as from important European and American museums – the Uffizi and the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, the Louvre in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, the Royal Library in Windsor Castle (property of the British monarch) and the British Museum in London – and private collections.

It was three years ago that curator Dr Achim Gnann began his preparations for this exhibition. His goal is to review those datings of Michelangelo’s drawings that have sometimes been considered controversial and elaborate on the evolution of the artist’s style with utmost clarity.

Text from the Albertina website

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti. 'Studies for the Libyan Sibyl' (recto) 1511-12

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564)
Studies for the Libyan Sibyl (recto)
1511-12
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
© 2007. The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti. 'Madonna and Child' 1520-25

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564)
Madonna and Child
1520-25
© Casa Buonarroti, Florence

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti. 'Half-Length Figure of Cleopatra' (recto) c. 1533

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564)
Half-Length Figure of Cleopatra (recto)
c. 1533
© Casa Buonarroti, Florence

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti. 'Study of a Male Nude, Separate Study of his Head' (recto) 1534-1536

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564)
Study of a Male Nude, Separate Study of his Head (recto)
1534-1536
© Teylers Museum, Haarlem

 

 

Albertina
Albertinaplatz 1
1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 (0)1 534 83-0

Opening hours:
Daily 10 am – 7 pm
Wednesday and Friday 10 am – 9 pm

Albertina 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.

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