Goya’s Portrait of Don Pedro, Duque de Osuna on Loan at The Prado

Posted in museums by Editor on January 19, 2016

Press release (18 January 2016) from The Prado:

Goya’s Portrait of Don Pedro de Alcántara Téllez-Girón y Pacheco, 9th Duke of Osuna
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 19 January — 24 April 2016

The Museo del Prado and the Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado are presenting Goya’s Portrait of Don Pedro de Alcántara Téllez-Girón y Pacheco, 9th Duke of Osuna. Through the collaboration of The Frick Collection in New York, where it is normally housed, the painting will be on display in Room 34 of the Villanueva Building until 24 April this year.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Portrait of Don Pedro, Duque de Osuna, oil on canvas, 137.8 x 109.2 x 10.2 cm (New York: The Frick Collection; photo by Michael Bodycomb).

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Portrait of Don Pedro, Duque de Osuna, oil on canvas, 137.8 x 109.2 x 10.2 cm (New York: The Frick Collection; photo by Michael Bodycomb).

Traditionally dated to around 1798, the recent cleaning of the portrait at The Metropolitan Museum in New York has revealed a complexity of technique and use of colour that may allow it to be dated later, possibly even to after the Duke’s death in 1807. While the sitter’s clothing corresponds to the late 1790s, the dark tonality and manner of painting the dress coat and hands are closer to Goya’s technique during the period of the Peninsular War. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the work does not appear in the records of the Osuna residence in which purchases made in the 18th century are rigorously recorded, but it does however appear in the sale of the Osuna collection in 1896. It is also possible that this is the portrait referred to in an inventory of the collection of around 1834 as an oil painting “of half-length of the Duke of Osuna, grandfather.” This information seems to indicate that the portrait was commissioned during a turbulent period, possibly at the time when the Osuna family moved to Cadiz after the Duke’s death and prior to the French invasion.

In Goya’s image the Duke transmits the sensitive, enthusiastic personality that made him a popular figure among intellectuals of the time. The dimensions of the work, which are similar to those of the portrait of the Duchess of 1786 (Marita March collection), the Duke’s pose and the direction of his gaze all suggest that Goya probably painted it from a miniature and that it was used as a pair to the portrait of the Duchess.


Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Osuna and Their Children, oil on unlined canvas, 225 x 174 cm (Madrid: The Prado).

Don Pedro de Alcántara Téllez-Girón y Pacheco, 9th Duke of Osuna (1755–1807) was one of Goya’s earliest and most eminent patrons from the mid-1780s onwards. After his death the artist continued to work for his wife and children until 1817. The Prado has various works painted by Goya for the Osunas, including the group portrait of the entire family of 1785, those of the Marchioness of Santa Cruz (1805) and the Duchess of Abrantes (1816), and the unique Witches’ Flight, one of the ‘scenes of witches’ from the series that Goya sold to the Duke in 1798.

The special loan of this portrait of the Duke falls within the context of the Museum’s ‘Invited Work’ programme, an activity sponsored by the Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado since 2010 with the aim of further enriching a visit to the Museum and establishing points of comparison that allow for a reflection on the works in the Prado’s Permanent Collection.

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The painting was exhibited two years ago at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (6 December 2013 — 3 March
2014); more information is available here.

Exhibition | John Akomfrah: Vertigo Sea

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 19, 2016


Still from John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea, 2015; three channel HD video installation, colour, sound, 48 minutes. Smoking Dogs Films.

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From Arnolfini:

John Akomfrah: Vertigo Sea
Venice Biennale, 5 May — 22 November 2015
Arnolfini, Bristol, 16 January — 10 April 2016
Turner Contemporary, Margate, 8 October 2016 — 8 January 2017
The Whitworth, Manchester, TBA

Vertigo Sea, a three-screen film, first seen at the 56th Venice Biennale as part of Okwui Enwezor’s All the World’s Futures exhibition, is a sensual, poetic and cohesive meditation on man’s relationship with the sea and exploration of its role in the history of slavery, migration, and conflict. Fusing archival material, readings from classical sources, and newly shot footage, the work explicitly highlights the greed, horror and cruelty of the whaling industry. This material is then juxtaposed with shots of African migrants crossing the ocean in a journey fraught with danger in hopes of ‘better life’ and thus delivering a timely and potent reminder of the current issues around global migration, the refugee crisis, slavery, alongside ecological concerns.

Shot on the Isle of Skye, the Faroe Islands and the Northern regions of Norway, with the BBC’s Bristol based Natural History Unit, Vertigo Sea draws upon two remarkable books: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851) and Heathcote Williams’ epic poem Whale Nation (1988), a harrowing and inspiring work which charts the history, intelligence and majesty of the largest mammal on earth.

As part of the exhibition, a new work Tropikos (2016) will also be shown. Set in the sixteenth century and using the writings and memoirs of a number of seafarers as its raw material, this single channel film is a Brechtian costume drama which merges Shakespeare’s The Tempest with true accounts of the journeys to and dreams of the ‘New World’. Exploring the point in history when Britain’s economic exploitation of Africa began, this work focuses on the waterways of the South West and their relationship to the slave trade, referencing larger themes of colonialism, maritime power and loss.

Shown together, these two lyrical and melancholic films propose a ‘voyage of discovery’, a meditation on water and the unconscious, referring specifically to the passage of migration into the UK. Placed in the context of Bristol, the films connect to this city’s complicated maritime history and its position as port—a point at both the start and end of epic journeys in the past and the present.

Vertigo Sea is presented in Bristol with support awarded to Arnolfini through Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund. During 2016 and 2017 Arnolfini will lead a national tour of the work to venues across the UK including Turner Contemporary, Margate and The Whitworth, Manchester. Tropikos is a 70th Anniversary Commission for the Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre London, with the River Tamar Project and Smoking Dogs Films.

John Akomfrah is an artist and filmmaker whose works are characterised by their investigations into personal and collective histories and memory, cultural, ethnic and personal identity, post-colonialism and temporality.  Importantly, his focus is most often on giving voice to the experience of the African diaspora in Europe and the USA. A founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, his work has been shown in museums and exhibitions around the world including the Liverpool Biennial; Documenta 11, Centre Pompidou, the Serpentine Gallery; Tate; and Southbank Centre, and MoMA, New York. A major retrospective of Akomfrah’s gallery-based work with the Black Audio Film Collective premiered at FACT, Liverpool and Arnolfini, Bristol in 2007. His films have been included in international film festivals such as Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, amongst others. He has recently been shortlisted for the Artes Mundi 7 prize.

Call for Papers | Identity in Art and Art History

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 19, 2016

From H-ArtHist:

Graduate Student Symposium: Identity in Art and Art History
San Jose State University, 16 April 2016

Proposals due by 26 February 2016

The Art History Association at San José State University invites advanced undergraduate and graduate students in art history and related disciplines to submit proposals that engage art in dialogue with identity for consideration for a 20-minute presentation at the 22nd Annual Graduate Student Symposium, Identity in Art and Art History. Cultural identity informs art, and art informs cultural identity at the collective and individual level. Cultural identity has a tremendous impact on the philosophies and methods engaged by artists, and it contributes greatly to works of art understood as embodiment, performance, representation or, occasionally, provocation to an operation of meaning. But what do art historians mean when we invoke ‘identity’?

Possible subjects include, but are not limited to, the following:
• the nature of representation and construction of identity
• identity in the context of globalization or global exchange
• identity as expressed in popular culture
• gendered and/or racialized identity
• identity of artist as innovator, investigator, or integrator
• displaying identity in museums, galleries and exhibitions
• images of patriotism and national identity
• urban image construction and the city
• the role of images in the construction of collective identity
• fluidity and shifting identity; art works that resist fixed identifications
• performative identity

We welcome proposals for 20-minute presentations on academic and creative inquiry into cultural identity. Submissions must include a 300-word abstract; completed 10-page paper; author’s name, institutional affiliation and biographical statement; one-page curriculum vitae with contact information, academic status, and relevant work; and brief recommendation from advising professor. All candidates will be contacted by the second week of March, 2016. Please email all documents in PDF format to the SJSU Art History Association: sjsuarthistory@gmail.com.