Enfilade

Exhibition | Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley

Posted in exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on January 31, 2020

Jacques-Louis David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps, 1800–01, oil on canvas, 102 × 87 inches (Château de Malmaison); and Kehinde Wiley, Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005, oil on canvas, 108 × 108 inches (Brooklyn Museum, Partial gift of Suzi and Andrew Booke Cohen in memory of Ilene R. Booke and in honor of Arnold L. Lehman, Mary Smith Dorward Fund, and William K. Jacobs, Jr. Fund, 2015.53), © Kehinde Wiley.

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Press release (via Art Daily) for the exhibition:

Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley
Château de Malmaison, 9 October 2019 — 6 January 2020
Brooklyn Museum, New York, January 24–May 10, 2020

Curated by Lisa Small and Eugenie Tsai

The Brooklyn Museum presents Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley, an exhibition pairing an iconic painting from the Museum’s collection—Kehinde Wiley’s Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps (2005)—with its early nineteenth-century source image, Jacques-Louis David’s Bonaparte Crossing the Alps (1800–01). By displaying the two paintings together, in dialogue with each other for the first time, the exhibition explores how ideas of race, masculinity, representation, power, and agency have played out across the history of Western portraiture. The presentation is organized by the Brooklyn Museum in collaboration with the Château de Malmaison, where the original version of David’s portrait is permanently displayed. Before traveling to the Brooklyn Museum, the two paintings were on view at the Chateau de Malmaison (Kehinde Wiley Rencontre Jacques-Louis David).

David’s famous portrait was commissioned in 1800 by King Charles IV of Spain in an effort to win the favor of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was then First Consul of France. In the two centuries since its commission, Bonaparte Crossing the Alps has inspired numerous interpretations, but none seem to resonate in contemporary culture as much as Wiley’s large-scale version. In his Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, Napoleon is replaced with a Black man wearing camouflage fatigues and Timberland boots. By combining the role, stature, and implied historical legacy depicted in Bonaparte Crossing the Alps with visual markers of status from contemporary African American culture, Wiley challenges the art historical canon, critiquing how it has routinely overlooked the collective Black cultural experience.

David posed Napoleon in the tradition of equestrian portraits of historical commanders like Hannibal and Charlemagne, amplifying the grandeur of the portrait, which commemorated the First Consul and Reserve Army’s expedition through the Great Saint Bernard Pass, in the Alps. In the painting, Napoleon leads his soldiers from atop a rearing steed; in actuality he made this journey on the back of a mule. This is just one example of how Bonaparte Crossing the Alps constructed a strategic image of the General as a triumphant military leader while departing from historical accuracy.

In Wiley’s interpretation, the artist replaced the Italian mountainside and ready infantry with a detailed background flooded with sperm cells. To this ensemble, he added an ornate gilded frame with testicular-shaped cartouches in each corner and crowned by a carved self-portrait emerging from yonic volutes. The result transforms and challenges the grand tradition of historical portraiture established by artists like David, calling attention to the long-standing blind spots of canonical Western painting and the need to redress historical biases. The work belongs to an ongoing series of Wiley’s titled Rumors of War, begun in 2005, which includes the artist’s latest work of the same name: a monumental equestrian bronze statue in New York’s Times Square, which was unveiled in September 2019 and is now in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley at the Brooklyn Museum marks the first display of David’s portrait in New York, and the first time the two works have been on view together in the United States. To highlight this important occasion, Wiley collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum on the exhibition design for the U.S. presentation. A video showing Wiley on the grounds of Malmaison also accompanies the project, incorporating the artist’s perspectives on how the Western canon, French portrait tradition, and legacies of colonialism influence his own practice. When displayed together, these two works highlight the importance of re-examining representations of power across two centuries and two cultural contexts.

The exhibition also features a selection of complimentary works by Wiley, including a small-scale version of the artist’s recent monumental equestrian statue, Rumors of War. Also on display is Houdon Paul-Louis, a 2011 bust by Wiley that is part of the Museum’s collection. Several works from the Museum’s collection are also on display to provide historical context for Napoleon, including a small bronze equestrian portrait by Antoine-Louis Barye, medals struck by the Emperor to commemorate his achievements, and British prints brutally satirizing him.

Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley is organized by the Brooklyn Museum and Musée national des châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau. The Brooklyn presentation is curated by Lisa Small, Senior Curator, European Art, and Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Senior Curator, Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum.

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A booklet for the exhibition at the Châteaux de Malmaison, with brief essays by Emmanuel Delbouis and Élodie Vaysse, is available as a PDF file here (in French and English).

Lecture | David Pullins, On the Sofa and French Painting

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on January 31, 2020

Next month at BGC:

David Pullins, The Sofa: Furnishing Moral Tales in Eighteenth-Century French Painting
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 18 February 2019

Etched frontispiece from Le Sopha: conte moral (Paris: edition of 1774).

David Pullins will deliver a Françoise and Georges Selz Lecture on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture on Tuesday, February 18, at 6pm. His talk is entitled “The Sofa: Furnishing Moral Tales in Eighteenth-Century French Painting.” The success of Crébillon fils’s exoticist novel The Sofa: A Moral Tale (1742) suggests the blend of celebrity and infamy that marked this relatively new furniture form, inspired by traditional Ottoman culture. Pullins’s talk links the sofa and its often opulent upholstery to the rise of new domestic spaces and new forms of bodily comportment, while tracing its innovation representations in images such as François Boucher’s Lady on her Daybed (1743) and Blonde Odalisque (1752), Gabriel de Saint-Aubin’s Private Academy (c.1755), and the contemporary genre subjects and tableaux de mode popularized by Nicolas Lancret and Jean-François de Troy.

David Pullins is an Associate Curator in the Department of European Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He received his MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art and PhD from Harvard University with a dissertation that addressed the training and workshop practices of eighteenth-century French painters but which took many methodological cues from the study of the decorative arts. His research has been supported by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). Previously an Assistant Curator at The Frick Collection, he has published in The Burlington Magazine, Journal of Art Historiography, Master Drawings, Oxford Art Journal, Print Quarterly, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, as well as exhibition catalogs and edited volumes including Renoir: Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie: The Early Years (Kunstmuseum, Basel: 2011) and Histories of Ornament. From Global to Local, edited by Gülru Necipoğlu and Alina Payne (Princeton University Press: 2016).

This event will be livestreamed. Please check back to the BGC website the day of the event for a link to the video. To watch videos of past events please visit our YouTube page.

Call for Papers | Manufacturing the Past

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 31, 2020

From ArtHist.net:

Manufacturing the Past
European University at St. Petersburg, 8–10 October 2020

Proposals due by 20 April 2020

In 2018 the international conference History and Its Images, organized by the Department of Art History of the European University at St. Petersburg, was dedicated to Francis Haskell’s seminal book of the same title, which greatly influenced the study of the visualization of the past. In 2020 we will host a second conference on the representation of the past in the arts and visual culture. Among the questions to be discussed are: how the visual arts and visual culture produce images of the past, how these images were perceived by the different communities and how they were transformed by the national context of their production.

Current study of the visualization of history, the manufacturing of a collective past, rarely deals with the Islamic world, which, during over the last fifty years has been undergoing dramatic social change as new identities are constructed and the past reconsidered. We plan to have a special panel dealing with the issues of visual presentation of history in art in Islamic countries and with the role of art and architecture in this process. The conference will focus on the following interrelated panels:

Visualizing history and ideology
Propaganda and representation of history
The role of the visual arts in the invention of history
Visual art, history and the construction of national / identity

Visualizing history in the context of the historical culture
The function of historical knowledge in the artistic context
The influence of historical studies on the production of works of art
The role of works of art in the historical teaching
Images of the past and society’s conceptions of the past
Visualizing history and the question of evidence
Visualizing history and the issue of historical memory

Visualizing history in the art of Islamic countries

Visualizing history and Orientalism

We are happy to consider proposals on other themes and subjects remain relevant to the main topic of the conference.

The proposals for twenty minutes presentation should include the following information:
1. Information about participant (full name and academic status)
2. Contact information
3. Proposal (400 words)
Proposals should be sent to: visualizinghistory2020@gmail.com by 20 April 2020.

Working languages of the conference: Russian and English

Organizing committee: Ilia Dorontchenkov, Natalia Mazur, Vladimir Lapin, Anna Korndorf, Evgeniy Anisimov, Jean-Frédéric Schaub, Maria Chukcheeva

Please note that travel and accommodation expenses of the participants of the conference organizing committee are not able to cover. We are however able to give visas support for foreign participants (invitation letter).