Ausstellung: Alphonse Mucha
Datum: 12 October 2017 – 25 February 2018
Museum: Palacio de Gaviria, Madrid.
Seit dem Revival des Jugendstils in den 1960er Jahren, als Studenten in aller Welt ihre Zimmer mit Reproduktionen der Plakate Muchas von Mädchen mit rankenartigen Haaren schmückten und die Illustratoren von Schallplattenhüllen Mucha-Imitationen in halluzinatorischen Farben produzierten, wird Alfons Muchas Name unvermeidlich mit dem Jugendstil und dem Paris der Wende vom 19. zum 20. Jahrhundert assoziiert. Künstler mögen es nicht, kategorisiert zu werden, und Mucha hätte sich darüber geärgert, nahezu allein wegen einer Phase in seiner Kunst in Erinnerung zu bleiben, die lediglich zehn Jahre umfasste und die er für weniger wichtig hielt. Als leidenschaftlicher tschechischer Patriot wäre er ebenfalls unglücklich darüber gewesen, als Pariser Künstler zu gelten.
Mucha wurde am 14. Juli 1860 in Ivanèice in Mähren geboren, damals eine Provinz des Habsburgerreiches, das bereits unter dem Druck des wachsenden Nationalismus seiner vielen Völkerschaften wankte. Im Jahr vor Muchas Geburt erhielten die nationalen Bestrebungen innerhalb des Habsburgerreiches durch die der Vereinigung Italiens vorangehende Niederlage der österreichischen Armee in der Lombardei Auftrieb. Während des ersten Lebensjahrzehnts Muchas artikulierte sich der tschechische Nationalismus nicht nur in den orchestralen Tongedichten von Bedrich Smetana, die er unter dem Namen Ma Vlast (Mein Land) zusammenfasste, sondern auch in seiner großen epischen Oper Dalibor (1868).
Es war symptomatisch für den tschechischen nationalen Kampf gegen die kulturelle deutsche Hegemonie über Zentraleuropa, dass der Text von Dalibor in Deutsch geschrieben und ins Tschechische übersetzt werden musste. Von seinen ersten Lebensjahren an nahm Mucha die berauschende und leidenschaftliche Atmosphäre des slawischen Nationalismus in sich auf, die Dalibor und Smetanas folgendes Historienspiel Libuse charakterisierte, mit dem 1881 das Tschechische Nationaltheater eröffnete und für das Mucha später Bühnenbild und Kostüme entwerfen sollte.
Mucha wuchs als der Sohn eines Gerichtsdieners in relativ bescheidenen Verhältnissen auf. Sein Sohn Jiri Mucha sollte später voller Stolz die Familie Mucha in der Stadt Ivanèice bis ins 15. Jahrhundert zurückverfolgen. Aber auch wenn Muchas Familie relativ arm war, fehlte es in seiner Erziehung nicht an künstlerischer Stimulation und Ermutigung. Sein Sohn Jiri berichtet:
„Er zeichnete, noch bevor er zu gehen lernte, und seine Mutter band mit einem farbigen Band einen Bleistift um seinen Hals, so dass er malen konnte, während er über den Boden kroch. Jedes Mal, wenn er den Bleistift verlor, fing er an zu heulen.“
Seine erste wichtige ästhetische Erfahrung dürfte Mucha in der Barockkirche St. Peter in der Provinzhauptstadt Brno gehabt haben, wo er als schon als zehnjähriger Chorjunge sang, um seine Studien in der Grammatikschule zu finanzieren. Während seiner vier Jahre als Chorknabe hatte er regelmäßigen Kontakt mit dem sechs Jahre älteren Leoš Janáèek, dem großen tschechischen Komponisten seiner Generation, mit dem er das Bestreben teilte, eine ausgeprägt tschechische Kunst zu erschaffen.
Die üppige Theatralik des zentraleuropäischen Barock mit seinem prächtigen, mit vielen Rundungen versehenen und von der Natur inspirierten Dekor regte ohne Zweifel Muchas Fantasie an und nährte seine dauerhafte Vorliebe für „Glocken und Gerüche“ und religiöse Gegenstände. Auf dem Höhepunkt seines Ruhmes beschrieb jemand sein Atelier als „… eine säkuläre Kapelle … hier und dort stehen Trennwände, bei denen es sich gut um Beichtstühle handeln könnte; und die ganze Zeit brennt Weihrauch. Es erinnert mehr an die Kapelle eines orientalischen Mönchs als an ein Atelier.“
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Exposition: Alphonse Mucha
Date: 12 Octobre 2017 − 25 Février 2018
Lieu: Palacio de Gaviria, Madrid
Au moment du regain d’intérêt des années 1960 pour l’Art Nouveau, les étudiants du monde entier décoraient leur chambre d’affiches de Mucha représentant des jeunes filles aux mèches folles et les pochettes de disque s’ornaient de reproductions aux couleurs psychédéliques de cet artiste. Depuis lors, le nom d’Alphonse Mucha est immanquablement associé à l’Art Nouveau et à la culture fin-de-siècle à Paris. Les artistes n’aiment guère être réduits à une catégorie et Mucha aurait été indigné que sa réputation dépende presque uniquement d’une période de sa carrière qui dura à peine dix ans et qu’il considérait comme mineure. Ce fervent patriote tchèque n’aurait pas non plus apprécié d’être classé comme artiste « parisien ».
Mucha naît le 14 juillet 1860 à Ivancice dans la province de Moravie. Celle-ci appartient alors au vaste empire des Habsbourg, qui commence cependant à se désagréger sous la pression du nationalisme naissant de diverses ethnies. L’année précédant la naissance de Mucha, les aspirations nationalistes de l’empire tout entier s’enhardissent avec la défaite de l’armée autrichienne en Lombardie, suivie de l’unification de l’Italie. Pendant les dix premières années de la vie de Mucha, le nationalisme tchèque trouve son expression dans les poèmes musicaux de Bedrich Smetana, que le musicien intitule collectivement Má Vlast (Ma patrie), ainsi que dans son grand opéra épique Dalibor (1868).
Le fait que le texte de Dalibor ait dû être écrit en allemand avant d’être traduit en tchèque est symptomatique de la lutte du nationalisme tchèque contre la domination culturelle de l’Allemagne sur l’Europe centrale. Dès sa plus tendre enfance, Mucha devait baigner dans l’atmosphère grisante et fervente du nationalisme slave qui imprègne Dalibor ainsi que Libuše, reconstitution de l’histoire tchèque composée par la suite par Smetana ; cette oeuvre servit d’ailleurs à l’inauguration du Théâtre national tchèque en 1881 et Mucha lui-même créa plus tard pour celle-ci décors et costumes.
Mucha, fils d’un huissier de la cour, grandit dans un milieu relativement modeste. Son propre fils, Jiri Mucha, devait plus tard faire remonter avec fierté au XVe siècle la présence de la famille Mucha dans la ville d’Ivancice. Malgré la pauvreté de sa famille, l’éducation de Mucha ne fut pas dépourvue de stimulation ni d’encouragement artistiques. Selon son fils Jiri :
« Il savait dessiner avant même de marcher, et sa mère lui attachait un crayon autourdu cou avec un ruban de couleur pour qu’il puisse dessiner en se traînant par terre. Chaque fois qu’il perdait son crayon, il se mettait à hurler. »
Sa première expérience artistique marquante fut sans doute liée à l’église Saint-Pierre, de style baroque, située dans la capitale locale de Brno, où il fut choriste dès l’âge de dix ans afin de financer ses études secondaires. Pendant les quatre années passées dans ce choeur, il rencontra souvent Leoš Janácek, son aîné de six ans, qui allait devenir le plus grand compositeur de sa génération ; l’un et l’autre auraient le souci de créer un art véritablement tchèque.
La théâtralité sensuelle du style baroque d’Europe centrale, caractérisé par une décoration luxuriante curviligne inspirée de la nature, nourrit certainement son imagination et lui inspira le goût des « senteurs et des cloches » ainsi que d’un bric-àbrac religieux, qu’il ne perdrait jamais. À l’apogée de sa gloire, son atelier était décrit comme « une chapelle profane… des paravents disposés de part et d’autre, qui auraient bien pu être des confessionnaux, et de l’encens brûlant en permanence. On pense plutôt à la chapelle d’un moine oriental qu’à l’atelier d’un artiste.
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Exhibition: Alphonse Mucha
Date: 12 October 2017 – 25 February 2018
Venue: Palacio de Gaviria, Madrid
Since the Art Nouveau revival of the 1960s, when students around the world adorned their rooms with reproductions of Mucha posters of girls with tendril-like hair and the designers of record sleeves produced Mucha imitations in hallucinogenic colours, Alphonse Mucha’s name has been irrevocably associated with the Art Nouveau style and with the Parisian fin-de-siècle. Artists rarely like to be categorised and Mucha would have resented the fact that he is almost exclusively remembered for a phase of his art that lasted barely ten years and that he was regarded as of lesser importance. As a passionate Czech patriot he would have also been unhappy to be regarded as a “Parisian” artist.
Mucha was born on July 14, 1860 at Ivancice in Moravia, then a province of the vast Habsburg Empire. It was an empire that was already splitting apart at the seams under the pressures of the burgeoning nationalism of its multi-ethnic component parts. In the year before Mucha’s birth, nationalist aspirations throughout the Habsburg Empire were encouraged by the defeat of the Austrian army in Lombardy that preceded the unification of Italy.
In the first decade of Mucha’s life Czech nationalism found expression in the orchestral tone poems of Bedrich Smetana that he collectively entitled “Ma Vlast” (My country) and in his great epic opera “Dalibor” (1868). It was symptomatic of the Czech nationalist struggle against the German cultural domination of Central Europe that the text of “Dalibor” had to be written in German and translated into Czech. From his earliest days Mucha would have imbibed the heady and fervent atmosphere of Slav nationalism that pervades “Dalibor” and Smetana’s subsequent pageant of Czech history “Libuse” which was used to open the Czech National Theatre in 1881 and for which Mucha himself would later provide set and costume designs.
Mucha’s upbringing was in relatively humble circumstances, as the son of a court usher. His own son Jiri Mucha would later proudly trace the presence of the Mucha family in the town of Ivancice back to the fifteenth century. If his family was poor, Mucha’s upbringing was nevertheless not without artistic stimulation and encouragement. According to his son Jiri “He drew even before he learnt to walk and his mother would tie a pencil round his neck with a coloured ribbon so that he could draw as he crawled on the floor. Each time he lost the pencil, he would start howling.”
His first important aesthetic experience would have been in the Baroque church of St. Peter in the local capital of Brno where from the age of ten he sang as a choir-boy in order to support his studies in the grammar school. During his four years as a chorister he came into frequent contact with the six years older Leoš Janácek, the greatest Czech composer of his generation with whom he shared a passion to create a characteristically Czech art…
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Exposición: “Rubens. The Power of Transformation”
Fecha: 8 de Febrero – 28 de Mayo de 2018
Museo: Museo Stadel
El nombre de Pedro Pablo Rubens es conocido en el mundo entero y la importancia de su obra en la evolución de la cultura europea es universalmente reconocida. Sin embargo, en el siglo XVII Rubens no gozaba del renombre que alcanzaría más adelante, lo que puede parecer extraño si se tiene en cuenta que algunos de sus contemporáneos ya lo celebraban como ÿel Apeles de nuestro tiempo».
No obstante, en los años que siguieron a su muerte en 1640, la notoriedad que había alcanzado en vida se vio eclipsada por las transformaciones históricas que se operaron en Europa. A principios de siglo se había gestado la formación de naciones y de monarquías absolutas.
La novedosa aproximación al arte de Rubens permitía a los distintos estratos sociales de numerosos países reafirmarse en su identidad nacional y en los paralelismos en su desarrollo. El pintor defendía el valor intrínseco del mundo material que se percibe con los sentidos.
Su exaltación del hombre y de su lugar en el universo y su celebración de las tensiones sublimes entre la fuerza física y la imaginación en situaciones de exacerbado conflicto social se convirtieron a la vez en estandarte e ideal de la lucha. No obstante, en la segunda mitad de siglo, la situación cambió en Europa occidental: el absolutismo se alzó triunfante en Alemania después de la Guerra de los Treinta Años, en Francia después de La Fronda y en Inglaterra con la Restauración.
La escisión social entre conservadores y progresistas se aceleró, y se instaló entre las clases privilegiadas, reaccionarias por naturaleza, un «cuestionamiento de los valores» que despertó una actitud ambigua y hasta contradictoria con respecto a Rubens. Será necesario esperar hasta el siglo XVIII para ver renacer el interés por la obra de Rubens.
En los tres siglos que siguieron a su fallecimiento, la herencia del maestro, que nunca perdió su valor estético, fue apreciada y comprendida de muy diversas maneras. La doctrina estética dominante en cada etapa histórica, incapaz de sustraerse a su influencia, se esforzó por interpretarla según las teorías que convinieran en cada momento.
Así, se distinguían en su obra aquellos rasgos significativos que se deseaba ver o los que se temía descubrir. Sin embargo, la actividad y la obra de Rubens estuvieron tan estrecha e íntimamente ligadas a la realidad de su tiempo, que durante su vida no pudo tomarse la distancia indispensable para obtener una perspectiva global del papel y de la importancia del artista.
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Exhibition: Rubens. The Power of Transformation
Date: Feb 8 − May 28, 2018
Venue: Stadel Museum
The Life and Works of Peter Paul Rubens
The name of the great 17th century Flemish painter, Peter Paul Rubens is known throughout the world. The importance of his contribution to the development of European culture is generally recognised. The perception of life that he revealed in his pictures is so vivid, and fundamental human values are affirmed in them with such force, that we look upon Rubens’ paintings as a living aesthetic reality of our own time as well.
The museums of Russia have a superb collection of the great Flemish painter’s works. These are concentrated, for the most part, in The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, which possesses one of the finest Rubens’ collections in the world. Three works, previously part of the Hermitage collection, now belong to The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. The Bacchanalia and The Apotheosis of the Infanta Isabella were bought for the Hermitage in 1779 together with the Walpole Collection (from Houghton Hall in England); The Last Supper came to the Hermitage in 1768 from the Cobenzl Collection (Brussels). These three paintings were then transferred to Moscow in 1924 and 1930.
One gains the impression that in the 17th century Rubens did not attract as much attention as later. This may appear strange: indeed his contemporaries praised him as the “Apelles of our day”. However, in the immediate years after the artist’s death, in 1640, the reputation which he had gained throughout Europe was overshadowed. The reasons for this can be found in the changing historical situation in Europe during the second half of the 17th century.
In the first decades of that century nations and absolutist states were rapidly forming. Rubens’ new approach to art could not fail to serve as a mirror for the most diverse social strata in many European countries who were keen to assert their national identity, and who had followed the same path of development. This aim was inspired by Rubens’ idea that the sensually perceived material world had value in itself; Rubens’ lofty conception of man and his place in the Universe, and his emphasis on the sublime tension between man’s physical and imaginative powers (born in conditions of the most bitter social conflicts), became a kind of banner of this struggle, and provided an ideal worth fighting for.
In the second half of the 17th century, the political situation in Europe was different. In Germany after the end of the Thirty Years’ War, in France following the Frondes, and in England as the result of the Restoration, the absolutist regime triumphed. There was an increasing disparity in society between conservative and progressive forces; and this led to a “reassessment of values” among the privileged, who were reactionary by inclination, and to the emergence of an ambiguous and contradictory attitude towards Rubens.
This attitude became as internationally prevalent as his high reputation during his lifetime, and this is why we lose trace of many of the artist’s works in the second half of the 17th century after they left the hands of their original owners (and why there is only rare mention of his paintings in descriptions of the collections of this period). Only in the 18th century did Rubens’ works again attract attention…
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Date: Feb 8 − May 28, 2018
Venue: Stadel Museum The Städel Museum in Frankfurt dedicates a comprehensive special exhibition to the world-renowned artist Peter Paul Rubens.
The exhibition entitled ” Rubens. The Power of Transformation” comprises about one hundred items—including thirty-one paintings and twenty-three drawings by the master—and explores a hitherto little-regarded aspect in his creative process.
The Egon Schiele. The anniversary show is due to start in February 2018 with exhibits in Vienna, London, Hamburg and Cologne. It will display the main aspects of his work and his shunning of traditional art practices of his time, break taboos and exploring spirituality through his expressionist form.
If you are unaware of Schiele’s work, he was an Austrian artist working in the early part of the 1900’s. His work is recognised for its raw intensity and sexuality. He produced many self portraits, some of which were nudes. The subjects of his work drawn with twisted body shapes and a unique line which made his work an early contender for the expressionist art movement.
With this in mind and 100 years after the death of Schiele, we are still seeing censorship of his work, and I am led to the question, why?
The advertising campaign for this exhibit first opened this question up for me, with Schiele’s artwork being heavily censored.
I could just see this as a very clever marketing ploy and move on, but I don’t believe that it is. Schiele’s work is provocative and unashamed in its presentation, so why is it when it is displayed outside of the confines of a museum or art gallery is it subject to such censorship?
Sexuality within art is a fine line to tread. If it is deemed “conformist” in that the subject is demur in nature and in an “acceptable” pose the art work on display is almost unseen and not out of place, we are quite used to seeing sculptures like Michelangelo’s David, or Botticelli’s Birth of Aphrodite on postcards or greeting cards, so why not Schiele? It is after all just the human form, and we are all human, so why is there a need for such censorship?
The art world very often butts heads with the marks of decency or good taste in its hunt for freedom of expression and exploration of taboo subjects. This means that art will always come up against the confines of what censorship boards will allow, but can censorship go too far?
Artists throughout history have been subjected to this same confine which sees their work either covered, as Schiele work has been, mutilated to be more audience friendly, or renamed to give a different take for what is on the canvas.
For example, if we look at the work of Picasso, specifically The Young Ladies of Avignon.
This piece was originally called The brothel of Avignon, but was renamed by Andre Salmon in an attempt to lessen the scandalous impact that this painting would cause.
Picasso, never liked this name, and always referred to the painting as the “brothel painting”. But “would a rose by any other name smell as sweet…”
The name and content of the picture would always be controversial and while this painting is now considered the seminal piece in cubism and modern art, its original reception was not as highly regarded.
This does lead to the question of trending censorship, while it is accepted that nudity and sexuality will always push the boundaries of the censorship boards, will there come a time when it is considered to be immoral to show drinking or smoking within art work. Could we see small black boxes over the works of Degas, Picasso, Balthus, Magritte and Hamilton be censored because they depict habits which are now being frowned upon within society?
Of course, this is taking censorship to the absolute extreme, but this type of act isn’t unheard of. Merriam-Webster defines censorship as “the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and removing things that are considered to be offensive, immoral, harmful to society, etc.” We have seen extreme censorship in the past, most notably the Nazi book burning of may 1933. This act saw books which were subversive to the Nazi regime burnt. Seeing any texts which were Jewish, pacifist, religious, classical liberal, anarchist, socialist, and communist, among others burned in the street. The first books burned were those of Karl Marx and Karl Kautsky.
I say that this is the extreme, and it really is, and some artists, have tried mock the censorship panels through their work.
If we look at the painting The Treachery of image by Rene Magritte we see a painting of a pipe with the words “this is not a pipe” written underneath it.
At first glance, this is confusing to say the least. We can see it is a pipe, so why would the artist profess otherwise?
Magritte was quoted to have said: “The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture ‘This is a pipe’, I’d have been lying!”. Taking a direct stance against the critics and the censorship boards by pointing out once again that art is merely subjective and each person will have their own opinion of what they see and deem acceptable.
Richard Hamilton was also heavily subjected to censorship of his images, with his work cropped to make it appear more acceptable.
The piece Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? was produced in 1956 for the exhibition This is Tomorrow in London. The piece is a collage which shows a male body builder and a burlesque model around the house in no clothing, but one holding a sign and the other wearing a lampshade.
The image was used as the poster campaign for the exhibit, but it was cut down so only the male body builder was shown, deeming the topless women too risqué to use within the campaign.
From what we have looked at, we can see why art and censorship will always be in conflict. The moral high ground of societies best interests, usually winning which means that public displays of controversial artworks will always be confined to the safety of a designated space, so as not to offend those who could be, and to protect the innocent eyes of children.
If you want to see Schiele’s work in all its glory, you will need to attend one of the exhibits mentioned above, and you can get more information about the exhibits here:-
For now I will leave you with the image of The Radical Nude, and a quote by Schiele, which reminds us that art is one of the oldest forms of communication – “Art cannot be modern. Art is primordially eternal.”
It has been just under a month since we have seen the doors of the Louvre Abu Dhabi open with its fantastic structure, but the reception has been not quite so impressive.
Visitors have remarked that there doesn’t seem to be enough content within the corridors of the venture to fulfil its monumental name. I am sure that this comes as quite a blow as the mammoth project has been fraught with controversy and delays. Throughout the build, concerns of the welfare of the migrant workers plagued its progress. They have left a bitter taste in the mouth of the museum, which is supposedly encompassing a “universal” approach to all cultures, with activists still reviewing the conditions under which employees worked.
This leads us to the question: Is the Louvre Abu Dhabi still finding its feet or is it merely a folly to the sky line which will act as window dressing?
We know that huge deals have been made to loan some of the most expensive and impressive art works, with France to bring the museum in line with its name sake. But we all know that money doesn’t go a long way when looking at art of this level of expertise.
The most recent acquisition really brings this home to someone like me. As you will have hopefully seen the reports of the latest authenticated da Vinci painting being brought for $450 million to a mysterious buyer, later to be announced as the Saudi prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud. This purchase, along with the museum, comes at a controversial time when crack downs are put in place on the exuberant spending and corruption by the crown prince, seeing many influential business men and royal cousins arrested without legitimate charges.
In itself, the painting is quite a debateable purchase for the country. While in Christianity, Jesus was the saviour, within Muslim culture, Jesus was a prophet, and the depiction of prophets is a sacrilegious act. While this purchase does support the ‘universal’ neutrality that the museum is said to offer, this could simply add fuel to the fire of the recent political activities.
The painting shows Jesus performing a benediction (an invocation of divine help, blessing and guidance, usually performed at the end of worship) with his right hand raised, in the left hand a crystal orb, representing his role as saviour of the world and mastery of the cosmos as well as the heavenly sphere. Jesus is shown in renaissance attire and is dated as painted around 1500.
The painting echoes other portraits in the Da Vinci repertoire, such as John the Baptist, with the curly blonde locks and classic facial features, and while authenticated, there are still discussions over the true artist of this painting. Sketches and preparatory chalk outlines are held in the Royal collection, but some specialists’ style believe that this could have been a student of da Vinci’s work rather than the man himself. Regardless of this, it is still now listed as one of the 20 known works by da Vinci.
Sold at Christie’s auction house and now listed as the most expensive art work to be sold, could this be a turn in changing the Louvre Abu Dhabi from the ornate and ornamental building to a player in the field of held exhibits.
Personally I would like to see this museum move forward with its push for acceptance of other cultures, although not to the detriment of the people around it.
Let’s hope that that the feeling of ‘interconnectedness’ penetrates through the recent controversies and makes way for a peaceful and beautiful place to view some of the world’s masterpieces.
When you think of the Louvre, the mind instantly goes to the iconic glass pyramid which we are all so familiar with, located in the centre of Paris. Housing some of the world’s greatest art works, it is the world’s largest art museum. In 2007, the creation of a second Louvre was announced. From then on, it has been eagerly watched as the project emerges.
Ten years after the announcement and after several delays, the exciting news of the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi has arrived. The name “Louvre”, which is being ‘rented’ for a 30-year period for this museum, costs around £399 million to do so.
On November 8, 2017, The French President Emmanuel Macron joined Arab leaders in inaugurating the new museum. According to some sources, the museum will open to the public on November, 11.
The construction of this impressive piece of architecture costs over £1 billion and was designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel. The structure is an effortless floating dome, which looks like a honeycomb of stainless steel and aluminum, filtering light in to the museum and giving the feeling of being under a palm tree or the natural roof of a souk. The museum is open on all sides and brilliant white, allowing the filtered light to create an art work in itself. The building is a dramatic change to the sky scrapers which dominate the skyline and give the air of something special. Within the museum, the galleries are laid out like streets, which a sea breeze funnelling through the corridors.
The museum, which has loaned 300 art works from France at the cost of around £571 million, will give a brief history to mankind and religion. There are in total 620 pieces and artefacts on display, ranging from Degas, Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso. The works on show are some of the best, which will be showcased in 20 galleries, forming 12 chapters, sharing the ideas about interconnectedness and culture. Among the many highlights is Leonardo’s wonderful portrait of an unknown lady – La Belle Ferronniere, Whistler’s depiction of his mother, David’s heroic equestrian portrait of Napoleon, a Grecian sphinx from the 6th century BC, a Bronze Oba head from the Benin Kingdom, a 15thcentury Islamic “Turban” helmet and four Romanesque columns with carved capitals from a church in southern France.
The installations and art works will change over time. This has been a work of union between France and the Arab state, signing many agreements to present a ‘universal’ museum. While the museum builds its own base of permanent fixtures, the loaning of artwork will continue.
I find it particularly impressive that the museum has put any thoughts about religious beliefs to one side, showing artefacts from world religions side by side. Exhibiting a Jewish funeral stele next to a Muslim’s funeral steel and a Christian’s archbishop’s stone epitaph is a true statement of how art can impact the world and bring cultures together.
The Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture, Mohammad Al Mubarak made the statement while addressing the press: “Louvre Abu Dhabi is not just a museum; it will be a hub for education, broadcasting international tolerance and world culture. And future generations will be better because of places like the Louvre Abu Dhabi.”
The exhibition “From One Louvre to Another: Opening a Museum for Everyone” will open on December, 21, 2017. The show will explore the opening of the Musée du Louvre in Paris in the 18th century, through 150 paintings, sculptures and other artworks from the collections of Musée du Louvre and the Château de Versailles.
The first show at the Children’s Museum, titled Travelling Shapes and Colours, will see examples of floral and geometric ornamentation exhibited through Turkish ceramics, 18th-century decorative French vases and a 19th century painting by German artist Paul Klee.
If you want to find out more about the museum or stay updated with events, you can find the website here.
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Exhibition: La grande bouffe : peintures comiques dans l’Italie de la Renaissance
Date: October 28, 2017 – March, 11, 2018
Venue: The Musée Saint Léger in Soissons, France.
(1527 – 1593)
Son of the artist Biagio Arcimboldo and Chiara Parisi, Giuseppe Arcimboldo was born in Milan in 1527. Of noble descent, Arcimboldo‘s family originated from the south of Germany, with some family members relocating to Lombardy during the Middle Ages.
Numerous variations of the spelling of the family name can be found: Acimboldi, Arisnbodle, Arcsimbaldo, Arzimbaldo, or Arczimboldo; the ‘boldo’ or ‘baldo’ suffix is a mediaeval Germanic derivative. Likewise, Arcimboldo signed his first name in several different ways: Giuseppe, Josephus, Joseph, or Josepho are some of the examples that can be found.
In his work La noblità di Milano (1619), Paulo Morigi charted the history of Arcimboldo‘s family and confirmed his nobility, despite very uncertain sources, by tracing his roots back to the time of Charlemagne, when a nobleman named Sigfrid Arcimboldo served in the court of the Emperor. Out of sixteen Arcimboldo children, three were knighted and one amongst them settled in Lombardy. This is how the Italian branch of the family came to be founded. To support his claims, Morigi declared that his narrative came directly from Giuseppe Arcimboldo, a trustworthy gentleman with a respectable lifestyle.
Also in La noblità di Milano, Morigi continued to develop the history of the Arcimboldo family, although limiting this to the Italian branch residing in Milan. He stated that the widower Guido Antonio Arcimboldo, Giuseppe’s great-great-grandfather, was elected Archbishop of Milan in 1489, succeeding his deceased brother, Giovanni Arcimboldo. Between 1550 and 1555, Giovanni Angelo Arcimboldo, illegitimate son of Guido Antonio, reigned as Archbishop of Milan. He advised Giuseppe and steered him through the politics of the artists, humanists, and writers of the Milanese Court.
In Milan, Arcimboldo received training from his father in the arts, and also from artists of the Lombard School, such as Giuseppe Meda (active in Milan from 1551 to 1559) and Bernardino Campi (1522-1591), a distinguished painter from Cremona.
A certain artistic and scientific fascination for Leonardo da Vinci has been perceived in Arcimboldo‘s art. In fact, Giuseppe’s father, Biagio, had the good fortune to be friends with Bernardino Luini, a student of Leonardo da Vinci’s, who, after da Vinci’s death, inherited several of his master’s workbooks and sketches. Biagio Arcimboldo certainly studied these and, years later, taught da Vinci’s artistic and scientific style to his son Giuseppe.
The Italian artists Biagio, Meda, and Campi were in contact with German artists, either working on commissions for the Milan Cathedral or creating tapestries for the Medici family. According to the Milan Cathedral archives, Arcimboldo was established as a master in 1549, working with his father in the painting and creation of sketches for the stained glass windows, organ doors, and canopy of the Cathedral’s altar. The most important stained glass windows, located within the apse, depict the Tales of the Life of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The Christian legend deals with the martyrdom of Catherine, who refused to renounce her Christian faith for pagan gods. The decoration of these scenes was relatively elaborate, based on a combination of classic themes (amphorae, garlands, and cherubs) and Christian symbols (thrones, scallop shells, and ceremonial ornaments).
The architectural and ornamental concepts reflected the illusion of art and a mannerist taste. These forms also demonstrated Leonardo da Vinci’s influence on Arcimboldo, gained through the art of Milanese artist Gaudenzio Ferrari (1471-1546), who also worked on the Cathedral’s stained glass windows. A document from the archives of the Milan Cathedral, dated 1556, mentions that Arcimboldo‘s sketches for the Cathedral project were transposed onto glass by Corrado de Mochis, a master glazier from Cologne. During this period, Arcimboldo painted five emblematic insignias (today, lost) for Ferdinand, King of Bohemia, later Ferdinand I, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.
After the death of his father in 1551, Arcimboldo continued to work in Lombardy until 1558, after which time he undertook travels to Como and Monza. He created sketches of Old and New Testament themes for tapestries for the Como Cathedral. Flemish artists Johannes and Ludwig Karcher (active from 1517-1561), employed by the Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory, created a tapestry from these sketches.
The names of the weavers appear on a scroll on the tapestry. Arcimboldo created eight scenes, sumptuously embellished with borders festooned with flowers, fruit, scrolls, and classical-style grotesques (grotteschi), such as can be seen in Death of the Virgin. In a private garden, in which the architecture echoes the styles of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Virgin rests in a casket surrounded by the mourning apostles, whilst the Santa Maria della Grazie Church can be seen in the background…
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