Exhibition | Drawing Versailles: Charles Le Brun

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 30, 2015


Summary of the exhibition now on view at the Caixa Forum in Barcelona (with thanks to Tobias Locker for noting it) . . .

Drawing Versailles: Studies and Cartoons of Charles Le Brun
Caixa Forum, Barcelona, 18 November 2015 to 14 February 2016

Curated by Bénédicte Gady

In 1682, Louis XIV transferred the French court to Versailles. The artist Charles Le Brun (1619–1690) was responsible for planning this work, to which he applied an ‘orchestral’ treatment, which involved the participation of  hundreds of artisans and artists, the best from each discipline. Le Brun personally  produced several pieces, including two particularly impressive compositions: the Staircase of the Ambassadors and the Hall of Mirrors, adorned by a series of mature paintings imbued with the most captivating beauty.

A little-known body of original material is conserved from this undertaking: the preparatory cartoons, which illustrate the final phase in the artist’s working process. The cartoons demonstrate Le Brun’s virtuosity as a draftsman, his talent for constructing scenes and his painstaking care, down to the last detail. The drawings include studies of characters, allegorical figures, trophies and animals that formed part of the artist’s compositions, conceived as a great symbolic jigsaw puzzle. Such cartoons were commonly used between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, but few have reached our days. Those produced by Le Brun are the exception: three hundred and fifty cartoons in a store of three thousand drawings found at the artist’s studio, requisitioned and added to the royal collections after his death in 1690.

The Staircase of the Ambassadors

Le Brun’s drawings provide a vision of the decoration, now lost, from the Staircase of the Ambassadors, featuring figures on the same scale, enriched with all the gravity and dramatic quality of drawing in black pencil. This staircase, which led up to the grand apartments of the king and queen, was the first space that represented the power of the monarch at Versailles. Designed in around 1671 and decorated between 1674 and 1679, the staircase was destroyed in 1752, during the reign of Louis XIV. In it, Le Brun made exceptional use of a narrow space that only received overhead lighting. Using optical illusion, he increased the sensation of space, mixing fact and fiction to create an allegorical composition that depicted the return of Louis XIV after one of his military victories. Le Brun surrounded the king by representatives from nations in the four continents, the kings of Antiquity, victories, cupids and the arts: a monumental composition to the honour and glory of the absolute monarch. The cartoons reveal that Le Brun worked on the Staircase of the Ambassadors to the last minute, retouching and improving his drawings.

The Hall of Mirrors

The paintings in the Hall of Mirrors enable us to follow, step by step, the artist’s working process, from the first small sketches, their pencil strokes embodying powerful movement, to the final drawings, which are the same size as the paintings themselves. Also conserved are the engraved copies of the overall work, produced for the purpose of making this artistic accomplishment known beyond French borders, adding to the monarch’s fame. In European painting, the figure of the king was traditionally represented by a mythological figure: Apollo, Hercules and so on. Le Brun, however, portrays the king himself, leading his armies to victory, wearing an ancient breastplate and a modern wig, in a dialogue with the gods and allegories. Two of the most important scenes on the ceiling are represented: the king’s decision to rule alone, and the war with Holland. One of the most famous episodes in this war, The Crossing of the Rhine in 1672, is shown through cartoons exactly as they were found in Le Brun’s studio.

From the Louvre Museum to CaixaForum

Over the past few years, the Graphic Arts Department of the Louvre Museum has carefully restored these drawings, enabling us to see them now for the first time in all their original splendour. The exhibition Drawing Versailles: Studies and Cartoons of Charles Le Brun (Dibuixar Versalles / Dibujar Versalles: Charles Le Brun) is the fruit of a strategic agreement between the Louvre Museum and ”la Caixa” Foundation. The purpose of this agreement is to bring to public attention artists, collections and periods in art history that are not represented in our galleries but which occupy eminent positions in the Louvre’s exhibition discourse: Mesopotamian culture, Coptic art, Pharaonic bestiary, women in Ancient Rome, the work of Eugène Delacroix, etc.

Dibujar Versalles: Bocetos y Cartones de Charles Le Brun (Barcelona: Fundació Ciaixa de Pensions, 2015), ISBN 978-8499001425, 232 pages, 35€.

The full press release is available here»


Charles Simonneau, Ceiling of the Great Staircase at Versailles, etching and burin, 38.7 x 70.5 cm. Chalcographic copper plate printing (RMN-Grand Palais, Musée du Louvre).

Exhibition | Neapolitan Crèche at the Art Institute of Chicago

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 29, 2015


Neapolitan Crèche, mid-eighteenth century
(Art Institute of Chicago)

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From the AIC:

Neapolitan Crèche
Art Institute of Chicago, 20 November 2015 — 3 January 2016

After its widely popular debut in 2013, our spectacular eighteenth-century Neapolitan crèche returns once again this holiday season. One of the very few and finest examples of such a work outside of Naples, the crèche is an intricate Nativity scene that reflects the vitality and artisanship that the city is still known for. The Art Institute’s crèche features over 200 figures—including no less than 50 animals and 41 items of food and drink—all staged in a spectacular Baroque cabinet with a painted backdrop. Elaborate, complex, and wondrous, the Neapolitan creche is a rare example of the genre and a once-in-a-lifetime acquisition for the Art Institute.

Creche-Holy-Family-7_360Sacred imagery reenacting the Nativity has its roots in fourth-century Rome but by the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries—in part due to its association with St. Francis of Assisi—such scenes had become a permanent feature of Neapolitan churches. During the eighteenth century, the period from which most of the figures of the Art Institute’s crèche date, these relatively simple tableaux underwent a transformation into highly dramatic and theatrical renderings. Traditional sacred elements of Nativity scenes—the Holy Family, wise men, angels, and shepherds—were combined with profane aspects not of Bethlehem but of contemporary Neapolitan life—rowdy tavern scenes and bustling street activities—in dazzling displays of artistic techniques. Churches, wealthy citizens, members of the nobility, and the royal family all competed to commission the most complex presentations of this popular art form from leading artists and artisans, the same people who were creating monumental sculptures and altars for churches and palaces. These artists rendered figures in oil-painted terracotta to achieve the most realistic expressions in crèches and constructed painstakingly detailed costumes of luxurious fabrics that mimicked the fashions of the time. The Art Institute’s crèche represents the pinnacle of this artistic practice, born of the centuries-old tradition of Nativity scenes yet bursting with the energy of eighteenth-century Neapolitan life.

The Art Institute of Chicago is grateful to the following individuals for their generous support of the Neapolitan crèche: The Nativity and Three Wise Men and Their Courts and Treasures sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. James N. Bay; The Heavenly Host sponsored by Linda and Vincent Buonanno and Family in memory of Vincent Buonanno Jr.; The Taverna sponsored by the Eloise W. Martin Legacy Fund; and La Georgiana and Her Companions sponsored by Mrs. Robert O. Levitt.

Kyle MacMillan reported on the acquisition of the crèche for The Wall Street Journal (29 November 2013).

Exhibition | Schalcken: Painted Seduction

Posted in books, catalogues, conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on November 28, 2015

Press release for the exhibition now on view at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum:

Schalcken: Gemalte Verführung / Painted Seduction
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, Cologne, 25 September 2015 — 24 January 2016

Godefridus Schalcken, Self-Portrait, 1694 (Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum)

Godefridus Schalcken, Self-Portrait, 1694 (Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum)

A lady looking into a mirror in the soft candlelight, proud, a little pert perhaps, but certainly enigmatic. Few artists have matched the ability of Godefridus Schalcken (1643–1706) to capture such magical moments on canvas so powerfully that they still compel attention three centuries later. In autumn 2015 the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Courboud launched in cooperation with the Dordrechts Museum the first-ever exhibition to survey Schalcken’s oeuvre as a whole, inviting a reassessment of this unique painter and seducing visitors to have a detailed look at the charming and enchanting art of Schalcken. More than eighty loans from public and private collections worldwide are on show, a third of his known painted oeuvre. Lenders include the Leiden Collection, New York, The Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection, Naples, Uffizi Florence, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Mauritshuis The Hague, National Gallery London, Národní galerie in Prague, Statens Museum Copenhagen, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, Ashmolaen Museum, Oxford, Städel Museum, Frankfurt, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Gemäldegalerie Dresden, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe and Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Kassel.

Schalcken will not have seemed predestined for an artistic career when he was born in 1643 into a family headed by a Protestant pastor. At the age of nineteen, following an apprenticeship with Samuel van Hoogstraten, a pupil of Rembrandt, he entered the workshop of Gerrit Dou, the celebrated founder of the school of artists known as the Leiden ‘fine’ painters. Dordrecht, London, The Hague and Dusseldorf were further stages in his impressive career. Despite the political and economic turmoils and an ailing art market: Schalcken established himself as a “self-branded artist”. His paintings fetched top prices and entered the most illustrious collections. Royal clients, such as Florence’s Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici and Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm in Dusseldorf, helped Schalcken to international fame.

As a master of light, especially candlelight, Schalcken entered the canon of art history and was lauded by art lovers—including even Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. First with the changes in taste that came in the nineteenth century did the ‘typically Dutch’, bourgeois art by painters like Vermeer, Rembrandt and Frans Hals gain in preference. Schalcken’s elegantly painted aristocratic gems languished in obscurity. With the consequence that the artist ranks today among the great unknowns of the Golden Age of Netherlandish painting.

Here in the first ever exhibition of his work, we are invited to set out on a journey of rediscovery. With rarely shown masterpieces, including many works from private collections, it opens up the painter’s rich world of imagery. A world that captivates by its wide range of genres and subjects, its tromp-l’oeil illusionism, and the gallant conversations that Schalcken invites us viewer to join.

The exhibition catalogue, with essays and extensive entries by Guido M.C. Jansen, Wayne Franits, Anja K. Sevcik, Nicole Elizabeth Cook, Eddy Schavemaker, Sander Paarlberg and Marcus Dekiert aims to update the meritorious catalogue raisonée by Thierry Beherman of 1988.

Wayne Franits, et al., Schalcken: Gemalte Verführung (Stuttgart: Belser Verlag, 2015), 312 pages, ISBN: 9783763027217, $88.


Conference | Versailles in the World, 1660–1789

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on November 27, 2015


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From the conference website:

Versailles in the World, 1660–1789
New York University, 29 January 2016

Organized by Jeffrey Collins, Meredith Martin, and Robert Wellington

Versailles is often seen as the epitome of ‘Frenchness’, yet the palace and its contents were profoundly shaped by encounters with people and objects from around the world. This symposium builds upon recent colloquia and exhibitions such as La Chine à Versailles: art et diplomatie au XVIIIe siècle (2014) and Voyageurs étrangers à la cour de France, 1589–1789 (2014) to emphasize the international character of Versailles between the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XVI and to situate its art and architecture in a global context.

The day-long public event at the Washington Square Campus of NYU brings together an international group of scholars to explore connections between Versailles and a wide variety of geographical regions and cultures, from Thailand to Tunisia to Dutch Brazil. Papers focus on a range of visual and material culture that relates to cross-cultural exchanges at Versailles in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including the depiction of ambassadorial visits to the palace; gifts to and from the French Court; objects and images made for Versailles and its inhabitants that depict non-European cultures or reveal cross-cultural resonances; exoticism and fashion; and examples of art and architecture made outside of Europe that were inspired by Versailles.

Versailles in the World, 1660–1789 is timed to coincide with the preparation of a major exhibition on the foreign visitor at Versailles that will open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in May 2017. It has been made possible through the generous support of New York University, Bard Graduate Center, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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10:00  Welcome and Opening Remarks: Versailles as a Site of Global Exchange, Meredith Martin, New York University

10:15  Curators Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide (Metropolitan Museum) and Bertrand Rondot (Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon) discuss their upcoming exhibition Visitors to Versailles, 1682–1789

11:00  Session I. Diplomatic Gifts and the French Court
• Mediating Spaces: Dutch Brazil at the French Court, Carrie Anderson, Middlebury College
• From Versailles to Nouvelle France: French ‘Indian Peace Medals’ of the Eighteenth Century, Robert Wellington, Australian National University
• Versailles, Beijing and the Eighteenth-Century Global Imaginary, Kristel Smentek, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

12:30  Lunch

1:45  Session 2. International Trade, Collecting, and Display
• From Ancient Carthage to Modern Tunis: The Cultural and Political Reception of Tunisia at the French Court of Versailles, Ridha Moumni, Institut de recherche sur le Maghreb contemporain (IRMC)
• Mercantilism, Entrepreneurship, and the French Silk Corridors to Persia, Junko Takeda, Syracuse University
• Native American Objects at Versailles, Noémie Etienne, Getty Research Institute

3:15  Break

3:30  Session 3. Fashion and Exoticism
• Fashion Will Travel: Dress and Diplomacy at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, Independent scholar

4:15  Roundtable discussion led by Jeffrey Collins, Bard Graduate Center

5:15  Closing Reception

Exhibition | Pearls on a String

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on November 26, 2015

Press release (24 July 2015) for the exhibition now on view at The Walters:

Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts
The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 8 November 2015 — 31 January 2016
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 25 February — 8 May 2016

Portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I, 1815 (Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum)

Portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I, 1815 (Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum)

The great Mughal, Safavid, and Ottoman empires flourished during a time of rapid change and artistic innovation in the Islamic world, as people, ideas, and technologies spread across Europe and Asia. At the heart of the empires’ courts were networks of individuals—writers, poets, artists, craftsmen— who produced extraordinary works of art for the ruling elite. From November 8, 2015, through January 31, 2016, the Walters Art Museum will present Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts, the first major exhibition to focus on these influential and often charismatic individuals. The free exhibition features more than 120 works including paintings, calligraphy, textiles, ceramics, and jeweled luxury objects. Dating from the 16th to the 18th century, these exquisite works of art were created in historic India, Iran, and Turkey, a vast geographic area that extends from the Bay of Bengal to the Mediterranean Sea.

Pearls on a String seeks to broaden public engagement with the cultural histories of Muslim societies by demonstrating how human imagination and collaboration can ignite extraordinary artistic creativity,”  said Amy Landau, curator of the exhibition.

Three Vignettes

Pearls on a String is organized in a series of vignettes that spotlight a 16th-century writer, a 17th-century artist, and an 18th-century patron. Through poignant quotes, startling juxtapositions of artwork, and subtle references to the protagonists’ architectural surroundings, the exhibition will offer a rare glimpse into their worlds. The individuals also inform the exhibition’s poetic title: viewed independently, each is a gleaming ‘pearl’, yet collectively they constitute an even more vibrant ‘string of pearls’.

• Writer Abu’l Fazl (1551–1602): A prolific writer, visionary historian and intimate at the court of the third Mughal emperor Akbar in India, he was the most powerful voice in defining Akbar’s policies of political inclusion in the context of a demographically diverse empire.
• Painter Muhammad Zaman (c. 1650–1700): At the court of Safavid ruler Shah Sulayman, this imperial artist radically changed the course of Persian painting by introducing farangi-sazi, a European style, into the Persian tradition.
• Patron Sultan Mahmud I (1696–1754): An Ottoman ruler and active patron of the arts and architecture, this once-forgotten sultan commissioned fanciful jeweled objects as well as lavish libraries and mosques that define Istanbul’s skyline to this day.

“The Walters’ initiative to organize its first international loan exhibition dedicated to Islamic art springs from the quality of the museum’s collection, its intellectual resources and its dedication to providing free access,” said Julia Marciari-Alexander, the Andrea B. and John H. Laporte Director of the Walters Art Museum.

Loans and Support

Loans from national and international institutions include the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the British Library, London; the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Approximately a third of the works are from the collection of the Walters Art Museum, which has one of the most comprehensive collections of Islamic art in North America. The exhibition was organized by the Walters Art Museum in partnership with the Asian Art Museum, and will be on view at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco February 25 through May 8, 2016.

Pearls on a String has been generously supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating Fifty Years of Excellence; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Gary Vikan Exhibition Endowment Fund; Ellen and Edward Bernard; Douglas and Tsognie Hamilton; the Herb Silverman Fund; the Maryland Humanities Council and several anonymous donors.

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The catalogue is distributed by the University of Washington Press:

Amy Landau, ed., Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts (Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 2015), 256 pages, ISBN: 978-0295995243, $60.

81C1MqzoYsLPearls on a String presents the arts of historical Islamic cultures by focusing on specific people and relationships among cultural tastemakers, especially painters, calligraphers, poets, and their patrons. Through a series of chapters, the book spotlights certain historical moments from across the Islamic world. Each chapter pivots around patrons and their social networks. These independent sections allow different voices and perspectives to emerge, enabling the reader to see that Islamic societies are not monolithic but made up of a tapestry of individuals with distinct and varying views. Pearls on a String pays particular attention to individuals from different sectors of society, giving voice to anonymous artists and translators, merchants, and women of the harem. Islamic historical sources reinforce the book’s themes of writing in Islamic societies, artistic patronage, biographical traditions, and human connectivity.

Amy Landau is associate curator of Islamic and South Asian Art at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. Contributors include Paul Losensky, Sussan Babaie, Avinoam Shalem, Glaire Anderson, Mariam Rosser-Owen, Persis Berlekamp, Vivienne Lo, Wang Yidan, Willem Flinterman, Jo Van Steenbergen, David Roxburgh, Qamar Adamjee, Audrey Truschke, Bora Keskiner, Unver Rustem, and Tim Stanley.

New Book | The Bauers: Joseph, Franz & Ferdinand

Posted in books by Editor on November 25, 2015

From Prestel:

Hans Walter Lack, The Bauers: Joseph, Franz & Ferdinand, Masters of Botanical Illustration (London: Prestel, 2015), 496 pages, ISBN: 978-3791354897, $85, £60.

cover.doFilled with stunning 18th- and 19th-century illustrations of plants and other living creatures, this book is the first to bring together the life and art of the three Bauer Brothers, who came to be some of the most celebrated botanical artists of all time.

As artists, Joseph, Franz and Ferdinand Bauer were independently successful: Joseph as court painter to the Prince of Lichtenstein; Franz (later Francis) was employed at Kew Gardens as the ‘Botanick Painter to His Majesty’; and Ferdinand’s seminal collection of 1500 paintings created from sketches he made traveling in and around Australia is the first detailed account of the natural history of that continent. Drawn from all known worldwide sources of the Bauers’ extant illustrations, this illustrated history of the Bauers and their work unfolds chronologically, starting with the brothers’ formative years in Feldsberg, Austria, where they produced more than two thousand drawings of plant specimens under the guidance of the local abbot. Learning how to dissect plants as well as how to use microscopes to paint them in intricate detail, the Bauers became well known for their extraordinary precision. Their detail work, along with their incredibly beautiful and highly developed methods of coloring their paintings, comes to life in numerous superbly reproduced illustrations. A celebration of an indelible body of work, this unique volume recalls the Golden Age of botanical artistry through the lives and contributions of the renowned Bauer brothers.

Hans Walter Lack is Director of the Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum in Berlin, Germany. He has written extensively about botanical art.

New Book | Palais Royal: à la table des rois

Posted in books by Editor on November 24, 2015

From BnF:

Alina Cantau, Frédéric Manfrin et Dominique Wibault, Palais Royal: à la table des rois (Paris: Éditions de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, 2015), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-2717726695, 35€.

9782717726695De François Ier à Napoléon III, en passant par Louis XIV et Bonaparte, Palais royal invite les gourmands d’images et d’histoire à découvrir la cour de France sous un autre jour : quand elle passe à table. Au fil des siècles et des règnes, la culture culinaire évolue. Les voyages et leur cortège de découvertes viennent métisser les repas, au gré des échanges diplomatiques, des mariages princiers et du commerce. Mais toujours la gastronomie est affaire de plaisir. Comme l’écrit Guy Martin qui signe ici la préface, le palais naît d’une sensibilité, à la fois personnelle et collective, qui se cultive. À l’origine de la « cuisine française », les tables royales de France posaient les bases de ce qui allait faire sa renommée.

Alina Cantau est coordinatrice scientifique Gallica au sein du département de la Coopération à la Bibliothèque nationale de France. En charge de la gastronomie, elle a collaboré à plusieurs revues spécialisées et à l’Agenda gourmand (BnF). Elle a également participé à des actions de valorisation des collections gourmandes de la Bibliothèque nationale de France et de ses partenaires.

Frédéric Manfrin, conservateur, est depuis 2008 chef du service Histoire à la Bibliothèque nationale de France. Il a assuré le commissariat des expositions « Esprit[s] de Mai 68 », « Casanova, la passion de la liberté » et « Été 14 : les derniers jours de l’ancien monde », dont il a également codirigé le catalogue. Il donne depuis quelques années de nombreuses conférences sur l’histoire culturelle et politique de l’Europe aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles.

Dominique Wibault, chargée de collection en gastronomie au département Sciences et Techniques de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, a collaboré à l’édition 2015 de l’Agenda gourmand (BnF) et au dossier gastronomie « Du sens aux sens » du numéro 49 de la Revue de la BnF.

Exhibition | Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on November 23, 2015

Opening this week at Tate Britain:

Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past
Tate Britain, London, 25 November 2015 — 10 April 2016

9781849763431This autumn Tate Britain presents a major exhibition of art associated with the British Empire from the 16th century to the present day. In 21st-century Britain, ‘empire’ is highly provocative. Its histories of war, conquest and slavery are difficult and painful to address but its legacy is everywhere and affects us all. Artist and Empire will bring together extraordinary and unexpected works to explore how artists from Britain and around the world have responded to the dramas, tragedies and experiences of the Empire. Featuring a vast array of objects from collections across Britain, including maps, flags, paintings, photographs, sculptures and artefacts, the exhibition examines how the histories of the British Empire have shaped art past and present. Contemporary works within the exhibition suggest that the ramifications of the Empire are far from over. The show raises questions about ownership, authorship and how the value and meanings of these diverse objects have changed through history, it also asks what they still mean to us today.

Historic works by artists such as Joshua Reynolds and George Stubbs are shown with objects including Indian miniatures and Maori artefacts, as well as contemporary works by Hew Locke and Sonia Boyce. Through this variety of artworks from a complex mix of traditions, locations and cultures the fragmented history of the Empire can be told.

Alison Smith, David Blayney Brown, Carol Jacobi, Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past (London: Tate, 2015), 240 pages, ISBN: 978-1849763431, $65.

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From Tate Britain:

Artist and Empire: New Dynamics, 1790 to the Present Day
Tate Britain, London, 24–26 November 2015

Tate Britain’s major conference, held in collaboration with Birkbeck, University of London and culture at King’s College London, marks the opening of the exhibition Artist and Empire. Scholars, curators and artists from around Britain and the world consider art created under the conditions of the British Empire, its aftermath, and its future in museum and gallery displays.

Scholarship of art associated with the British Empire has expanded over the last two decades, across a huge span of disciplines and locations. This conference takes the historic opportunity of the exhibition, featuring diverse artists from the sixteenth century to the present day, to bring together people to meet and share the latest research being developed around this subject. The papers, roundtables and audience discussions will consider the cosmopolitan character of objects and images, and the way geographical, cultural and chronological dislocations have in many instances obscured, changed or suppressed their history, significance and aesthetics. We will also explore how approaches to contemporary art, archives, curation and collecting can help develop new ways to look at them now.

T U E S D A Y ,  2 6  N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 5

18.00  Opening Conversation
Introduction by Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate
Frank Bowling OBE, Artist and Writer, with Zoe Whitley, Curator, International Art, Tate Modern

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9.00  Registration and refreshments

9.30  Introduction

9.40  Panel 1 | Displaced Practices: Artists and Exchanges
Chaired by Felix Driver, Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway
• Michael Rosenthal (Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of Warwick), Augustus Earle: Seeing Straight
• Geoff Quilley (Professor of Art History at the University of Sussex), Inside Empire Looking Out: The View from Dent’s Veranda
• Partha Mitter (Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of Sussex), Art Education in India

11.20  Refreshment break

11.40  Panel 2 | Moving Objects: Collecting, Archives, Display
Chaired by John Mack, Professor of World Art Studies at the University of East Anglia and Chairman of the Sainsbury Institute for Art
• Alison Inglis (Associate Professor in Art History at the University of Melbourne), Collecting and Displaying British Art in the Australian Colony
• Zachary Kingdon (Curator of the African Collections at the World Museum in Liverpool), Unofficial Exchanges: Investigating West Africans’ Gifts to UK Museums in the Early Colonial Period
• Nick Thomas (Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge), Artefacts of Encounter: Rethinking Objects and Collections

13.20  Lunch break

14.00 Panel 3 | Face to Face: Figures, Portraits and Identities
Chaired by Elizabeth Edwards, Research Professor in Photographic History and Director of Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University
• Temi Odumosu (Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at Copenhagen University), This Is How You See Her? Rachel Pringle of Barbados by Thomas Rowlandson’s Hand
• Gillian Forrester (Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Yale Center for British Art), Noel B. Livingston’s Gallery of Illustrious Jamaicans
• Ruth Phillips (Canada Research Chair in Modern Culture and Professor of Art History at Carleton University), Sir Henry Acland Mi’kmaq Woman from Nova Scotia and a Mi’kmaq Dressed Doll: The Tensions of Imperialism and Indigenous Survivance and Resistance

15.40  Refreshment break

16.00  Plenary: Reflecting on the Future
Chaired by Augustus Casely-Hayford, Historian, Writer and Curator
Catherine Hall, Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History at University College London
Zareer Masani, Historian and Writer

T H U R S D A Y ,  2 6  N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 5

9.00  Registration and refreshments

9.30  Introduction

9.40  Panel 4 | Confronting Empire: Curating Artistic Legacies
Chaired by Sarah Victoria Turner, Assistant Director for Research at the Paul Mellon Centre
• Elisabeth Lalouschek (Artistic Director of the October Gallery)
• Devika Singh (Smuts Research Fellow at the Centre of South Asian Studies, Cambridge University)

10.55  Refreshment break

11.15  Panel 5 | Archived Futures: Mediating Collections and Archives
Chaired by Hammad Nasar, Head of Research and Programmes at the Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong
• Brook Andrew (Artist), Re-envisioning Archives and Aboriginal Culture
• Caroline Bressey (Director of the Equiano Centre, Department of Geography at UCL)
• Shaheen Merali (Writer, Curator and Co-founder of Panchayat), Panchayat

12.55  Lunch break

13.35  Panel 6 | Curating in Transnational Contexts in London
Chaired by Professor Paul Goodwin, Director of the Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN) at the University of the Arts London
The India Festival (Victoria and Albert Museum, June 2015 — March 2016)
Kriti Kapila, Lecturer in Social Anthropology and Law at King’s College, London
West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song (British Library, October 2015 — February 2016)
Toby Green, Lecturer in Lusophone African History and Culture at King’s College, London, Marion Wallace, Lead Curator, African Collections, British Library, Co-curator
Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past (Tate Britain, November 2015 — April 2016)
Javed Majeed, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at King’s College London, Alison Smith, Senior Curator of British Art at Tate Britain

14.50  Refreshment break

15.10  In Conversation: Reflecting on Artists and Empire
Chaired by Achim Borchardt-Hume, Director of Exhibitions, Tate Modern
• Lubaina Himid, MBE (Artist, Curator, Professor of Contemporary Art at the School Art, Design and Fashion University of Central Lancashire)
• Yinka Shonibare, MBE (Artist and Curator)

16.05  Plenary: Reflecting on the Future
Chaired by Paul Gilroy, Professor of American and English Literature, King’s College London
Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey OBE
Mike Phillips, Novelist, Historian and former curator at Tate
Panellist TBC

Exhibition | Olafur Eliasson: Baroque Baroque

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 22, 2015


Olafur Eliasson, Wishes versus Wonders, 2015, as installed at the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, Vienna,  2015
Photo by Anders Sune Berg

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Press release for the exhibition now on view in Vienna’s Winter Palace:

Olafur Eliasson: Baroque Baroque
Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, Vienna, 21 November 2015 — 6 March 2016

With works from Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), Vienna and Juan & Patricia Vergez private collections, Buenos Aires

Olafur Eliasson: Baroque Baroque brings together a significant selection of artworks by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson from the private collections of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary and Juan and Patricia Vergez and presents them within the grand baroque setting of the Belvedere’s Winter Palace. The former city residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663–1736), was an important site of artistic and scientific patronage in baroque Vienna. Baroque Baroque is an encounter between artworks, aesthetics, and worldviews from two vastly different epochs. The exhibition challenges viewers’ habits of perception and proposes that reality can be understood as unstable and evolving, as a process of constant negotiation. Surprising affinities between Eliasson’s works and their temporary settings become evident as the juxtapositions explore the relationships between object and viewer, representation and experience, actual and virtual, giving rise to a concept of the baroque superimposed on itself—the Baroque Baroque.


Olafur Eliasson, Seu planeta compartilhado (Your shared planet), 2011, as installed at the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, Vienna in 2015. Photo by Anders Sune Berg.

While emphasizing the way spaces are constructed by history and tradition, Eliasson’s works address the viewer in her embodied experience. Through the use of projections, shadows, and reflections, the artworks foreground the relationship between body, perception, and image. They anchor agency in the body and mind in motion as they invite the viewer’s active engagement by mirroring, fragmenting, and inverting her position within space.

Eliasson says, “I find it inspiring that the baroque exhibited such confidence in the fluidity of the boundaries between models of reality and, simply, reality. The presentation of my works at the Winter Palace is based on trust in the possibility of constructing reality according to our shared dreams and desires and on faith in the idea that constructions and models are as real as anything.”

TBA21 Founder, Francesca von Habsburg says: “This exhibition brings together several elements that I think support the vision of collectors and their responsibility as well as their ability to create art projects that defy traditional categorization. Both Patricia and Juan Vergez and I have been collecting and supporting Olafur Eliasson for many years with great enthusiasm, as he is indeed a renaissance man of many talents! In this presentation we wanted to introduce a parallel, that Olafur himself has mirrored in the exhibition rooms, that juxtaposes the precious Baroque cultural heritage of Vienna with the work of an artist that I feel very close to.”

In the entrance Vestibule, the light installation Die organische und kristalline Beschreibung (1996) floods the walls, floor, and ceiling with swelling washes of blue and yellow light, an ocean of color that loosens the viewer’s sense of the stability of her environment. In Yellow corridor (1997), monofrequency light is used to heighten the precariousness of our relationship to visible space. Eliasson’s optical machines and installations—such as Kaleidoscope (2001), New Berlin Sphere (2009), Your welcome reflected (2003), and Seu planeta compartilhado (Your shared planet, 2011)—reflect the artist’s ongoing investigations of color, perception, transformation, and deconstruction, an inquiry that is particularly interesting in relation to the baroque context. A site-specific intervention in the form of a continuous mirror traversing the enfilade of grand rooms further disorients the viewer by folding and re-folding the complex spaces it produces. Wishes versus wonders (2015), a steel half-ring mounted to the mirror wall in the Hall of Battle Paintings, stages an encounter between reality, illusion, and the elaborate artifice of the surroundings, simultaneously multiplying lines of potentiality.

Within this terrain of doubling and paradox, Eliasson calls into question our received habits of seeing and experiencing space. His artworks make us wonder and reconsider, giving meaning to the enigmatic doubling inherent in Baroque Baroque.

Belvedere–The Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy
Prince Eugene’s Winter Palace [begun in 1697] is one of the most magnificent baroque edifices in Vienna and is the fourth exhibition venue of the Belvedere Museum. Originally built as a lavish urban residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663–1736), then acquired in the eighteenth century by Empress Maria Theresa before being used for the Court Treasury and later as the Ministry of Finance, this baroque palace underwent extensive renovation before reopening as a public museum in October 2013. Since then the Belvedere has staged numerous exhibitions at the Winter Palace, placing particular emphasis on programs and projects that create a dialogue between the baroque setting and contemporary art. Artistic interventions result in inspiring new artworks created in situ that draw on the palace’s unique ambiance and history. Vital starting points have been the city palace’s architecture, the prince’s former collections, and the holdings of the Belvedere.

On Site | The Fritz Lugt Collection (Paris) and the Pars Museum (Shiraz)

Posted in on site by Editor on November 22, 2015

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From the November issue of WoI:

Valérie Lapierre, with photographs by Roland Beaufre, “Dutch Originals: The Frits Lugt Collection,” The World of Interiors (November 2015), pp. 108–17.

A connoisseur like no other, Frits Lugt was just 15 when he bought his first Rembrandt sketch (he’d already written a book). Fifty years on, he opened the Fondation Custodia in Paris [housed in the eighteenth-century Hôtel Turgot], so that generations of experts and laymen alike could share his collection of Golden Age art for free. With brocatelle-lined walls and Vermeer-inspired floors, it’s ‘the place to see drawings in Paris’, as Valérie Lapierre learns.

More information is available from the Fondation Custodia.

Marie-France Boyer, with photographs by Olivia Froudkine, “Splendour in the Grass: The Pars Museum,” The World of Interiors (November 2015), pp. 152–59.

The garden of Nazar (meaning ‘dazzling’) in the Iranian city of Shiraz is home to the jewel-like Pars Museum. Decorated with vibrant panels of tiles, this octagonal pavilion incorporates a sparkling collection of pottery, glassware and bronze work. It also houses the tomb of an enlightened ruler who oversaw an era of urban development and artistic outpouring.


Pars Museum of Shiraz, Iran, The octagonal structure, called the Kolah Farangi (‘foreign hat’) was built by Karim Khan Zand (ca. 1705–79), who is buried there (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, February 2013).

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From the Wikipedia entry for the Pars Museum:

The Pars Museum is a museum in Shiraz, Fars Province, southern Iran and is located in Nazar Garden. The octagonal building was the place in which royal guests were hosted during the Zand dynasty of Iran. It was also used for holding official ceremonies. It is also the burial place of Karim Khan Zand.

The old Nazar Garden was one of the largest gardens of Shiraz during the Safavid rule (1501–1722). During Zand dynasty (1750–1794) Karim Khan built an octagon structure which was called Kolah Farangi. It was used to receive and entertain foreign guests and ambassadors and hold official ceremonies. In 1936 the pavilion became a museum. It was the first museum which was located outside the capital city of Tehran. The brick designs, tiling, pictures and big stone dadoes are among the architectural features of the building. . . .

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