Theater and Painting

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 8, 2010

From the website of the Musée d’Orsay:

De la scène au tableau / From Stage to Painting
Musée Cantini, Marseille, 6 October 2009 — 3 January 2010
Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rovereto, 6 February — 23 May 2010
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 19 June — 26 September 2010

"De la scène au tableau" (Flammarion, 2009) ISBN: 9782081236912

David, Delacroix, Hayez, Degas, Gustave Moreau, Toulouse-Lautrec, Vuillard . . .  all these painters shared a passion for the performing arts. What role did the theatre and the opera play in the artistic production of these great masters and in developing the composition of their paintings? To what extent did their art influence future developments in stage design?

Ranging from the Neoclassicism of David to the experimental work of the scenographer and stage director Adolphe Appia, this exhibition highlights the direct influence of the theatre, or the more subtle effect of theatricality, on painting. Conversely, it also demonstrates how the great movements in the history of art influenced the theatre and opened it up to the 20th century.

However, there is another story, that of the movement towards the dematerialisation of the image (a specific feature of Modernism) which is presented in Marseille through almost two hundred works from prestigious institutions and collections around the world, including a collection of drawings and paintings by Daumier, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Cabanel, on special loan from the Musée d’Orsay.

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The description perhaps downplays the role of the eighteenth-century for the exhibition, though the following review by Didier Rykner posted at The Art Tribune suggests there may be a bit more here for dix-huitièmistes.

The goal of the exhibition organized at the Musée Cantini is to understand the relationship between theatre and painting from the second half of the 18th century to the early 20th . . . Two paintings by Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée . . . prove very early on – halfway through the 18th century – the progressive change towards Neoclassicism, particularly Horace after Slapping his Sister from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen. While David is represented by well-known canvases (his copy of Girodet’s The Oath of the Horaces, recently seen at the Louvre, and his reception piece for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts), the two works from Bordeaux by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin and the very beautiful Marcus Curtius Dentatus Refusing the Gifts from the Samnites by Pierre Peyron, held at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Marseille, are admirable. As is often the case in this type of exhibition, the most pleasant surprises come from the lesser-known paintings, discovered a new thanks to excellent restorations.

For the full review, click here»

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