‘Eye for the Sensual’ in Los Angeles

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 11, 2010

Press release from LACMA:

Eye for the Sensual: Selections from the Resnick Collection
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2 October 2010 — 2 January 2011

Curated by J. Patrice Marandel and Bernard Jazzar

Photo © 2010 Museum Associates/LACMA

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Eye for the Sensual: Selections from the Resnick Collection, which features more than 100 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the collection of Lynda and Stewart Resnick, long-time patrons of the museum. Since the early 1980s, the Resnicks have collected in many areas ranging from European to American and modern art. This exhibition reflects their interest in European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century. Eye for the Sensual is one of three inaugural exhibitions to open the new Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion, named in honor of the Resnicks’ generous donation to LACMA’s ongoing Transformation campaign. The exhibition — designed by Pier Luigi Pizzi– beautifully illuminates the Resnicks’ broad taste and great love for collecting.

Installation of "Eye for the Sensual" at LACMA, Photo © 2010 Museum Associates/LACMA

Charles-Antoine Coypel, "Portrait of Monsieur Dupillé," 1733 Photo © 2010 Museum Associates/LACMA

The Resnick collection is rich in eighteenth-century French paintings including portraits, landscapes, still lifes, and mythological scenes. François Boucher and his pupil, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, are particularly well represented with three paintings each. Two of the paintings by Boucher—both sensuous representations of Venus—were originally commissioned by the artist’s greatest patron, Madame de Pompadour, for one of her many residences. The third work, Leda and the Swan (1742), was known only through a second version at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm before the Resnicks acquired the original. Fragonard’s paintings display the artist’s versatile talent and reveal, in turn, a world of playful eroticism, deep passion, and domestic intimacy.

The feminine aspect of the Resnick collection has often been noted: on one hand, many of the paintings’ subjects, whether allegorical or mythological, glorify the female form. On the other, numerous female artists are represented in the collection: Anne Vallayer-Coster with a still life of flowers; Elisabeth Louise Vigée Lebrun whose imposing Portrait of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France (1783), commissioned by the sitter, evokes the doomed splendor of the last days of the French monarchy; and Marguerite Gérard, who, under the guidance of her brother-in-law Fragonard, achieved fame in late eighteenth century for her portraits and genre scenes. Two of the Gérard works on view are small, intimate portraits of sitters who belonged to the artist’s enlightened circle of friends. A larger genre scene shows a female artist in her studio, a personification of Gérard’s own success and social status in the changing art world of early nineteenth-century France.

The Resnick collection also includes important Italian, Flemish, Dutch, and French paintings from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Francesco Guardi’s Ridotto at Palazzo Dandolo (1750s), a recent addition to the collection, is a vivid image of gambling and masquerade in eighteenth-century Venice that evokes the risqué world of Casanova. Among the Northern paintings, the vigorous Revel of Bacchus and Silenus (c. 1615) executed by Jacob Jordaens while still in his twenties exudes verve and passion, and a rare pair of decorative tondos by the little–known Dirk van der Aa reveals an unexpected aspect of late eighteenth-century Dutch painting. Two French masterpieces frame the core group of late eighteenth-century works: Simon Vouet’s dignified representation of the goddess Diana and her companions from around 1640, and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’s magisterial The Virgin with the Host (1860). Both paintings, in spite of being worlds apart, lend a note of pure and austere classicism to the collection.

European sculpture has been a long-standing interest of the Resnicks. The couple has assembled a collection that spans more than 400 years and includes Italian and French marble busts, English full-length neoclassical figures, French eighteenth-century terracottas, as well as bronzes dating from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. Some of the best-known sculptors in the collection include Barthélemy Prieur, Giambologna, Claude Michel (Clodion), Jean-Antoine Houdon, and Aristide Maillol.

Eye for the Sensual also includes a selection of Art Deco furniture and decorative arts, a more recent interest of the Resnicks. The couple has favored the elegant creations of such artists as Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Jules Leleu, as well as numerous pieces by Italian designer Gio Ponti, whose ceramic plates and vessels include depictions of the female figure in various activities. These modern touches gracefully enhance the setting and set the stage for this engaging and evocative exhibition.

Eye for the Sensual is curated by J. Patrice Marandel, LACMA’s Robert H. Ahmanson Chief Curator of European Art, and Bernard Jazzar, Curator of the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Collection. The installation for the exhibition was designed by the world-famous Studio Pier Luigi Pizzi-Massimo Pizzi Gasparon. Recognized as one of the leading designers of opera productions in the world, Pier Luigi Pizzi’s work has graced all of the great opera stages, including those of the Teatro La Fenice, Venice, and the Teatro alla Scala, Milan. Pizzi has designed many installations, such as those for the 2009 Florence Biennale and Seicento: La Peinture italienne dans les musées de France, a major exhibition of seventeenth-century Italian paintings in French museums held at the Grand Palais in 1992. The presentation for Eye for the Sensual will be the designer’s first project in Los Angeles.

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Eye for the Sensual: Selections from the Resnick Collection, by Pierre Rosenberg, Scott Schaefer, and Bernard Jazzar with contributions by Antonia Boström, Anne-Lise Desmas and Anne Woollett (2010), $39.95.

Published in conjunction with the exhibition Eye for the Sensual: Selections from the Resnick Collection at LACMA, this catalog presents a selection of eighty-three European paintings and sculptures from the renowned collection of Lynda and Stewart Resnick. Comprised of Old Master paintings and sculpture from the sixteenth century to the late nineteenth, each work is discussed in a scholarly entry. The emphasis of the collection is on French eighteenth-century paintings, including works by François Boucher, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Nicolas Lancret, Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Lebrun, and Marguerite Gérard. Other works by Flemish and Italian masters are also included: Jacob Jordaens, Hendrick de Clerck, Francesco Albani, and Francesco Guardi. Among the sculptures represented in the Resnick collection are Renaissance works by Giambologna and Barthélemy Prieur, eighteenth-century French figures by Jean-Antoine Houdon and Clodion and Neoclassical sculpture by John Gibson and Joseph Gott. Also included are photographs illustrating the works as they are displayed in the Resnick’s magnificent home in Beverly Hills.

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