Exhibition | Canova and the Dance

Posted in exhibitions by InternRW on August 24, 2016

Opening in October at the Bode-Museum:

Canova and the Dance / Canova und der Tanz
Bode-Museum, Berlin, 21 October 2016 — 22 January 2017


Antonio Canova, Dancer with Cymbals (Tänzerin), marble, 1809/1812 (Berlin: Bode-Museum; photo by Andreas Praefcke, Wikimedia Commons, 2007)

Dancer with Cymbals by Antonio Canova (1757–1822) numbers among the most significant and popular of the Bode-Museum’s works of art. The most important sculptor of Italian Neoclassicism was to explore the theme of dance three times in life-size sculptures. On the occasion of the special exhibition, Canova and the Dance, the Berlin dancer is to be joined by her counterparts: Dancer with Hands on Hips, created for Napoleon’s first wife Josephine and held at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, and Dancer with Finger on Chin, the model of which is kept at the Museo Canova in Passagno (the sculptor’s place of birth). Additionally, Hebe—a work from the Alte Nationalgalerie acquired for the Berlin collections in 1825—will for the first time be displayed alongside the Dancers. Artistically, Hebe is considered a precursor to Canova’s Dancers, and is the second major work by the Italian sculptor held by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The exhibition gives centre stage to these fascinating marble sculptures, along with a work known as the Berlin Dancer from the Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities). Sculptures like this were to serve as a source of inspiration for Canova during the composition of the Dancer in the Bode-Museum’s collection. A key aspect of the exhibition is the way in which Canova, a master of materiality, applied himself to exploring one of his favourite themes—dance—through design sketches, then paintings and models, and finally in the completed marble artwork.

Canova and the Dance is a project undertaken in partnership with two museums in Veneto: the Museo Canova in Passagno and the Museo Civico in Bassano del Grappa—which in 2011 began work on reconstructing the plaster model of the Berlin Dancer (made in Passagno and damaged during World War I), featuring it as part of an exhibition entitled Canova e la danza. The model will now appear in a more advanced state of completion at the Bode-Museum. Paintings both in oil and tempera, created by Canova for his private home, drawings, illustrations, and sculptures—many of which have never previously been exhibited in Germany—will form a display around Canova’s unique suite of Dancers, tracing a visual account of the sensuousness and movement at play in the great Italian sculptor’s work.

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