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Exhibition | Global by Design: Chinese Ceramics

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 1, 2016

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Garniture with Scenes of West Lake, ca. 1700. China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Porcelain painted with cobalt blue under a transparent glaze; Jars, H. 40 3/4 in., Vases, H. 35 5/8 in. (R. Albuquerque Collection)

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Press release (25 April 2016) for the exhibition now on view at The Met:

Global by Design: Chinese Ceramics from the R. Albuquerque Collection
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 25 April — 7 August 2016

Curated by Jeffrey Munger and Denise Patry Leidy

An international loan exhibition of 60 exquisite and unusual Chinese ceramics drawn from a Brazilian private collection—never before exhibited publicly—is now on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art through August 7. Global by Design: Chinese Ceramics from the R. Albuquerque Collection focuses on the period—from the late 16th to the 18th century—when Chinese porcelain became a global luxury, transforming both the European ceramic industry and styles of dining and drinking.

The introduction of porcelain to Europe can be traced to the period between the late 15th and early 16th centuries known as the ‘Age of Exploration’. This period includes both the discovery by Vasco da Gama (1460–1524) in 1498 of a maritime route around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa to South and East Asia, and the slightly earlier travels of Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) that led to the discovery of the Americas. Supported by Portuguese and Spanish courts, both explorers were searching for a sea route that would provide quicker access to coveted Asian luxuries, including tea, spices, silk, and porcelain.

When the Portuguese first reached China in the 16th century, the extensive kiln complex at Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province in the southeast dominated porcelain production. (China and, to a lesser extent, Korea were the only places in the world making porcelain at that time.) Portuguese rulers were the first Europeans to commission works from China, and these early-commissioned objects are among the rarest works on view in the exhibition. They include pieces with royal designs, such as a flattened bottle with a coat of arms, and Catholic imagery, such as a delicate bowl with the opening lines of the Hail Mary.

By this time, porcelain had long been treasured in inner-Asian trade, particularly with the Islamic world, and shapes and designs from the Middle East, which had been incorporated into the porcelain industry, were also transmitted to Europe. In the exhibition, a rare example of a kraak dish (ca. 1628–1642) depicting two Persian figures and made for either the Islamic world or Europe provides one example of these complicated interchanges. (The term kraak derives from the Portuguese word for ‘ship’ and is often used in Western sources to define Chinese porcelains made specifically for export in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.) In addition, an unusual bowl with pierced decoration and the Islamic profession of faith has European gilt mounts, indicating its fascinating journey from China to the Islamic world and, ultimately, Europe.

In the early 17th century, after the Dutch auctioned porcelain from two captured Portuguese ships and overtook the Portuguese and Spanish maritime routes, porcelain became widespread throughout northern Europe. By the late 17th and 18th centuries, with the ongoing exchange of shapes and designs, a global artistic language in porcelain making was fully developed. One of the most compelling examples in the exhibition is a monumental set of five vessels; produced for display in a European home, it depicts scenes from West Lake in southern China. In addition, tureens—including a delightful piece in the form of a crab with movable eyes, another in the shape of the historical Chinese Buddhist monk Budai, and a third, based on European silver, with lush patterns incorporating Western and Eastern imagery—exemplify the innovation and experimentation that characterized the Chinese porcelain industry in the 18th century.

The exhibition includes three generous gifts to the Museum from the R. Albuquerque Collection. The exhibition is organized by Jeffrey Munger, Curator, Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, and Denise Patry Leidy, Brooke Russell Astor Curator of Chinese Art, Department of Asian Art. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum will offer education programs, including gallery talks and, on June 5, a Sunday at The Met program focusing on trade in Chinese ceramics and their continuous and complicated impact on global traditions.

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Published by Jorge Welsh, the catalogue is available from The Met:

Denise Patry Leidy with catalogue entries by Maria Antónia Pinto de Matos, Global by Design: Chinese Ceramics from the R. Albuquerque Collection (London:  Jorge Welsh Research & Publishing, 2016), 240 pages, ISBN: 978-0993506802 (hardcover), £40 / ISBN: 978-0993506819 (softcover), £30 / $40.

global_by_design_chinese_ceramics_coverThe companion catalogue to The Met exhibition, this beautifully illustrated volume explores the period from the late sixteenth to the eighteenth century when Chinese porcelain became a global luxury, and in doing so, transformed both the European ceramic industry and fashionable styles of dining and drinking. Featuring exquisite and unusual pieces from an important Brazilian private collection, it challenges the long-standing tradition of cataloguing Chinese ceramics as domestic or trade items.

In addition to exploring the trade in Chinese ceramics within Asia, this new book looks at the development of ceramic shapes and designs that reflect the long history of exchange between China and the Islamic world, as well as the period in the late sixteenth century when works reflecting both Chinese and Islamic decorative traditions were introduced and incorporated into Europe and the Americas.

Denise Patry Leidy is the Brooke Russel Astor Curator of Chinese Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Maria Antónia Pinto de Matos is director of the Tile Museum in Lisbon.

Exhibition | Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 1, 2016

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Benjamin West, American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace Negotiations with Great Britain, begun in 1783, oil on canvas, 72.3 × 92.7 cm. (Winterthur 1957.856)

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With nearly 200 objects, The Met Breuer’s inaugural exhibition includes a handful of striking eighteenth-century paintings and prints. From the press release:

Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible
The Met Breuer, New York, 18 March — 4 September 2016

Curated by Andrea Bayer, Kelly Baum, Nicholas Cullinan, and Sheena Wagstaff

Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible examines a subject that is critical to artistic practice: the question of when a work of art is finished. Opening March 18, 2016, this landmark exhibition inaugurates The Met Breuer, ushering in a new phase for The Met’s expanded engagement with modern and contemporary art, presented in Marcel Breuer’s iconic building on Madison Avenue. With over 190 works dating from the Renaissance to the present—nearly forty percent of which are drawn from The Met’s collection, supplemented with major national and international loans—the exhibition demonstrates the type of groundbreaking show that can result when the Museum mines its vast collection and curatorial resources to present modern and contemporary art within a deep historical context.

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Anton Raphael Mengs, Portrait of Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento, duquesa de Huescar, 1775 (Mr. and Mrs. Otto Naumann, New York)

The exhibition examines the term ‘unfinished’ across the visual arts in the broadest possible way; it includes works left incomplete by their makers, a result that often provides insight into the artists’ creative process, as well as works that engage a non finito—intentionally unfinished—aesthetic that embraces the unresolved and open-ended. Featured artists who explored such an aesthetic include some of history’s greatest practitioners, among them Titian, Rembrandt, Turner, and Cézanne, as well as modern and contemporary artists, including Janine Antoni, Lygia Clark, Jackson Pollock, and Robert Rauschenberg, who have taken the unfinished in entirely new directions, alternately blurring the distinction between making and un-making, extending the boundaries of art into both space and time, and recruiting viewers to complete the objects they had begun.

The accompanying catalogue expands the subject to include the unfinished in literature and film as well as the role of the conservator in elucidating a deeper understanding of artistic thought on the subject of the unfinished.

Unfinished is a cornerstone of The Met Breuer’s inaugural program and a great example of The Met’s approach to presenting the art of today,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Met. “Stretching across history and geography, the exhibition is the result of a cross-departmental collaboration, drawing on the expertise of The Met’s outstanding faculty of curators. We hope the exhibition inspires audiences to reconsider the artistic process as they connect to experiences shared by artists over centuries.”

Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art, added: “It is rare that an exhibition covering such a broad time span can trace a theme as intimate and essential to the creative process. This sweep of art history throws into sharp focus the ongoing concern of artists about the ‘finishedness’ of their work—which, in the 20th century, they co-opt as a radical tool that changes our understanding of Modernism.”

Using works of art as well as the words of artists and critics as a guide, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible strives to answer four questions: When is a work of art finished? To what extent does an artist have latitude in making this decision? During which periods in the history of art since the Renaissance have artists experimented most boldly with the idea of the unfinished or non finito? What impact has this long trajectory had on modern and contemporary art?

The exhibition features works that fall into two categories. The first includes works of art that are literally unfinished—those whose completion was interrupted, usually because of an accident, such as the artist’s death. In some instances, notably Jan van Eyck’s Saint Barbara (1437), there is still debate about whether the artist meant the work to be a finished drawing, which would have been considered unusual at the time, or if it was meant to be a preparation for a painting. Because such works often leave visible the underlying skeleton and many changes normally effaced in the act of completion, they are prized for providing access to the artist’s thoughts, as well as to his or her working process.

The second category includes works that appear unfinished—open-ended, unresolved, imperfect—at the volition of the artist, such as Janine Antoni’s Lick and Lather (1993–1994). Antoni used a mold to create a series of self-portrait busts, half from chocolate and half from soap, fragile materials that tend to age quickly. After finishing the busts, she set to work unfinishing them, licking those in chocolate and bathing with those in soap, stopping once she had arrived at her distinctive physiognomy. The unfinishedness of objects in this second category has been debated and appreciated at definite times, in definite places. Unlike the historical art presented in the exhibition, which includes a significant number of truly unfinished objects, art from the mid-to-late 20th and 21st centuries is represented almost entirely through the lens of non finito.

The exhibition is organized chronologically, spanning the third and fourth floors of The Met Breuer. The works are subdivided thematically, with each group representing a specific case-study in unfinishedness—corresponding to specific times (such as the Renaissance, Baroque, and Modern periods), media (prints and sculpture), artists (including Turner, Cézanne, and Picasso), and genres (most importantly portraiture).

A new, light-based installation by Tatsuo Miyajima, created especially for Unfinished, will be on view in the Tony and Amie James Gallery in the lobby of The Met Breuer (late April through mid-October).

Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible is curated by Andrea Bayer, Jayne Wrightsman Curator in the Department of European Paintings; Kelly Baum, Curator of Postwar and Contemporary Art in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, both at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Nicholas Cullinan, former curator in The Met’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art and current Director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, all working under the direction of Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Many curators, conservators, fellows, and research assistants at The Met contributed to this exhibition and its accompanying catalogue, including experts from the Museum’s departments of American Paintings and Sculpture, Drawings and Prints, European Paintings, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Paintings Conservation, and Modern and Contemporary Art.

A series of experimental films made by many of the 20th and 21st century’s most innovative filmmakers are being shown in conjunction with the exhibition. Organized by Thomas Beard, founder and director of Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn, these screenings, which take place on The Met Breuer’s second floor, address the unfinished in cinematic terms. Details on screening times will be available at a later date.

In collaboration with The Met, The Orchestra Now (TŌN) will present The Unfinished, a performance at Carnegie Hall of two unfinished works: Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 2 and Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor. The concert will include a panel discussion with the Museum’s Sheena Wagstaff and Andrea Bayer; TŌN’s music director Leon Botstein; Columbia University’s Elaine Sisman, Anne Parsons Bender Professor of Music; and others. Friday, May 13, 2016, 7:30–9:45 pm; tickets start at $25.

Related programs include a Sunday at The Met on May 8 that considers the idea of the unfinished in relation to works across times and cultures and a lecture series on June 20 presenting new scholarship on the subject.

Kelly Baum, Andrea Bayer, and Sheena Wagstaff, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016), 336 pages, ISBN: 978-1588395863, $65.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 336-page fully illustrated catalogue that constitutes the most exploratory, yet also comprehensive, introduction to date of the long history of the unfinished in the visual arts, film, and literature. The book is divided into two main sections that roughly correspond to the periods 1435–1900 and 1900–2015. It contains essays by 13 curators, scholars, and a conservator on a range of artists and subjects related to the theme of the unfinished. The catalogue also features interviews with five contemporary artists—Vija Celmins, Marlene Dumas, Brice Marden, Luc Tuymans, and Rebecca Warren—whose work is represented in the exhibition; and a section of brief catalogue entries on each of the objects featured in the exhibition that explores the significance of the work, with an emphasis on its place in the broader narrative and, frequently, an account of its reception. The catalogue is published by The Met and distributed by Yale University Press. The catalogue is made possible by the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Inc. and the Roswell L. Gilpatric Publications Fund.

Exhibition | Bishop, Emperor, Everyman: 200 Years of Salzburg History

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 1, 2016

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August Franz Heinrich von Naumann, Map of the Princely Residence City of Salzburg, paper, ink, watercolour, gold addition, 1788–89 (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

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From the Salzburg Museum:

Bishop, Emperor, Everyman: 200 Years of Salzburg in Austria
Bischof, Kaiser, Jedermann: 200 Jahre Salzburg bei Österreich

Salzburg Museum, Neue Residenz, 30 April — 30 October 2016

To mark the 200th anniversary of Salzburg’s incorporation into Austria, a trio of exhibitions offers an in-depth view into the eventful history of Salzburg—from the rich princely archbishopric, through wars and fluctuating power relations.

Treasure House Salzburg

0107_salzburg2016_018Over the centuries, the Salzburg prince archbishops collected a voluminous treasury of paintings and the graphic arts, furniture and porcelain, minerals, weapons and coins, books and sculptures. Much of this was created especially for Salzburg. The Salzburg prince archbishops assigned renowned artists with commissions for ivory carvings, rock crystal and ibex horn artefacts, goldsmith’s art and paintings—all these objects belonged to the inventory of the court treasure chamber and enhanced prestige. The rulers of the time naturally saw themselves as personal owners of these riches; thus, it frequently occurred in case of war that all treasures were conveyed to the next residence. The exhibits tell their own stories and raise questions: what significance did they originally have, what was their origin, or how did they end up in Salzburg? The exhibition Treasure House Salzburg in the Kunsthalle in the basement of the Neue Residenz is designed to awaken in visitors a historical awareness for the former riches and status of Salzburg within Europe.

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Tell Me about Salzburg!

The special exhibition Tell Me about Salzburg! spotlights events and people from two centuries and, in doing so, gives visitors insights into the history of art and culture in Salzburg. While the stories are anchored in the two centuries between 1816 and 2016, they reach far back into the past or had far-reaching consequences for the future. Visitors wandering from room to room and from theme to theme will be given the opportunity to take a closer look at Salzburg and its history from unusual perspectives and in differing narratives.

Twelve Themes
• True Fables! The Fabulous World of Salzburg Sagas and Their Relationship to History
• Quest into the Past – Salzburg Unearths Its History
• “Silent Night! Holy Night!” What a Carol Tells Us, and What It Can Reveal about Its Time
• On the Trail of Haydn and Mozart: “Reports” on the History of Music in Salzburg
• Under the Patronage of the Dowager Empress Caroline Augusta: Salzburg Tells Its History in Its Own Museum
• Time Windows 1866 and 1916: Images of Change
• Back to the Future: Salzburg Utopias in the Years between the Wars
• Salzburg and National Socialism: The Oppressive Legacy of History
• Wotruba and Thorak: A Salzburg Summit of a Unique Kind
• Art under the Banner of the Cold War – or how the “Nuclear Bomb of Cultural Bolshevism” was Ignited in Salzburg
• “Two Days Facing the Cloud-Kitchen Mountain” (Peter Handke) – Literary Images of Salzburg
• Lisl Ponger: The Museum in the Museum
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Johann Matthias Wurzer, based on Hieronymus Allgeyer, Mirabellplatz before the 1818 Fire, oil on cardboard, 1810–16 (Salzburg Museum, inv. no. 96-25)

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On the Scene

The period from 1797 to 1816 in relation to the actual history of Salzburg is mostly an imageless era. There are scarcely any depictions of events, fights and battles in the city’s environs, or of the multiple occupations of the Land by foreign troops. Places that were the scenes of important events during this epoch in Salzburg are today no longer of any relevance for Salzburg: their significance for Salzburg’s history fell into oblivion. For the special exhibition On the Scene, contemporary photographic artists from the Fotohof gallery set off to eight selected locations and, in the form of video animations and installations, bring them into the Land exhibition.

Eight Locations
• Villa Manin stands for the Treaty of Campo Formio (1797) which for the first time officially codified the end of the autonomous archiepiscopal foundation of Salzburg.
• The Battle of Walserfeld in 1800 heralded an epoch of occupation, looting and ever-changing rulers.
• Mirabell Palace is exemplary as a location that was given a new function for each change in historical circumstances.
• The town of Mühldorf am Inn belonged to Salzburg for centuries but in 1802/1803 was the first territory to be separated from the former archiepiscopal foundation.
• The Alte Residenz was not only the residence of the prince archbishop but also old Salzburg’s centre of power for centuries.
• Schönbrunn Palace was the scene of the contract (Treaty of Pressburg) signed by Napoleon that ceded Salzburg to Austria in 1805, but in 1809 also saw Salzburg’s cession as defined in the Treaty of Schönbrunn.
• In 1809, Salzburg gunners fought at Pass Lueg against Bavarian and French troops, but were successful only at the start of fighting.
• And in June 1816 on today’s Hildmannplatz in front of the Neutor, the residents of the City of Salzburg received the new ruler Emperor Francis I of Austria.