Exhibition | Slaves of Fashion: New Works by The Singh Twins

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 23, 2018

Now on view at the Walker Art Gallery:

Slaves of Fashion: New Works by The Singh Twins
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 19 January — 20 May 2018
Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 21 July — 16 September 2018

Slaves of Fashion: New Works by The Singh Twins explores the history of Indian textiles, Empire, enslavement and luxury consumerism, and the contemporary relevance of these issues in the world today. Focusing on the relationship between Britain and India, hidden details of Europe’s colonial past and its legacies are uncovered, including current debates around ethical trade and responsible consumerism.

The exhibition showcases almost 20 new artworks by the internationally-renowned artists, Amrit and Rabindra Singh. Primarily known for their entirely hand-painted work in the Indian miniature tradition, The Singh Twins’ new work combines traditional hand-painting techniques with digitally created imagery. The series includes 11 digital fabric artworks displayed on lightboxes, with each one highlighting a different theme relating to India’s textile industry. A further nine paper artworks explore the relationship between trade, conflict, and consumerism in an age of Empire and the modern day. Also included in the exhibition are 40 highlights from over 100 objects across National Museums Liverpool’s collection, which have inspired the exhibition.

This exhibition is a collaboration between National Museums Liverpool, The Singh Twins, and Professor Kate Marsh, University of Liverpool. Slaves of Fashion: New works by The Singh Twins has been developed in partnership with Wolverhampton Art Gallery, and the exhibition will tour to Wolverhampton Art Gallery from 21 July to 16 September 2018.

The artworks in this exhibition reflect the artists’ views, not those of the Walker Art Gallery or National Museums Liverpool

Exhibition | The Chocolate Girl by Liotard

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 17, 2018

On view this fall at the Zwinger in Dresden:

‘The Most Beautiful Pastel Ever Seen’: The Chocolate Girl by Jean-Étienne Liotard
Zwinger, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 28 September 2018 — 6 January 2019

Jean-Étienne Liotard, The Chocolate Girl, ca. 1744–45 (Dresden: SKD, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister).

The exhibition focuses on one of the most famous works in the collection of the Dresden Gemäldegalerie, The Chocolate Girl by the Swiss artist Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702–1789). Liotard enjoyed enormous success as a pastel painter; even Rosalba Carriera, whose mastery of the medium had helped transform it into a serious and highly-admired art form, declared The Chocolate Girl to be “the most beautiful pastel ever seen.”

It was thanks to the art dealer Count Francesco Algarotti, who purchased the picture in Venice in 1745, buying it directly from the artist for the Dresden collection of Augustus III, that the gallery first began to show works by contemporary artists. The pastel medium suited the Rococo taste for lifelike, brilliant portraits and allowed Liotard to create flawless, porcelain-smooth surfaces. The great popularity of the picture, however, also rests on the fact that it depicts a simple, unidentified housemaid, a hitherto rare motif. The clear-eyed precision of Liotard’s observation anticipated not only the art of the Enlightenment but also nineteenth-century Realism.

Equally worthy of mention are the countless adaptations and appropriations of the motif for other, often trivial purposes. Of no less interest is the eccentric painter himself. A true cosmopolitan, he travelled far and wide, sported a luxuriant beard, exotic clothing and a turban and called himself ‘Le peintre turc’. The exhibition’s epilogue showcases Hann Trier’s take on Liotard’s masterpiece. Painted in 1991, Trier’s three-part sequence La Tasse au chocolat, reinterpreted The Chocolate Girl for the twentieth century.

Exhibition | The Grand Cure, 1738–1740

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 17, 2018

From the exhibition flyer:

The Grand Cure, 1738–1740: A Disabled Saxon Prince and His Tour of Italy
Die Grande Kur, 1738–1740: Prinz Friedrich Christian Von Sachsen auf der Suche Nach Heilung und Kultur in Italien

Grünes Gewölbe / Green Vault, Residenzschloss, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 9 May — 19 August 2018

Curated by Maureen Cassidy-Geiger

Rosalba Carriera, Crown Prince Friedrich Christian of Saxony, 1740, pastel on paper, 63.5 × 51.5 cm (Dresden, SKD, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister; photo by Hans Peter Klut/Elke Estel).

This is the first exhibition to be devoted to Elector Friedrich Christian of Saxony (1722—1763), who succeeded King August III in 1763 for just 74 days. Given his brief reign, few are aware of the prince’s profound physical disabilities, akin to cerebral palsy, which prevented him from standing or walking without assistance and made simple tasks like eating and dressing difficult. The marriage of his sister Maria Amalia to the King of Naples in May 1738 inspired their parents to send the fifteen-year-old heir to the throne on an impromptu journey to Italy, for life-saving medical treatments. This exceptional two-year adventure was amply documented, allowing us to precisely reconstruct the prince’s route and daily experiences as he travelled from Dresden to Naples, Rome, Florence, Milan, and Venice. Like the able-bodied Grand Tourists he met along the way, he also travelled incognito with an entourage, enjoyed celebrity status, and collected art, relics, books, and ephemera for shipment home. Some of the Italian gifts and souvenirs have been identified in museums, archives and libraries and are presented in the intimate setting of the Sponselraum.

August the Strong and August III both made Grand Tours as teenagers, with the court of Louis XIV and carnival in Venice as their primary targets. Friedrich Christian, by contrast, went to Italy as a medical tourist. Although he would never be cured, the mineral baths and holistic treatments administered abroad did soothe and strengthen the prince’s atrophied limbs, allowing him to regain the use of his left hand, bear his own bodyweight and walk short distances with two canes. Of necessity, however, he was mostly carried around Italy in a porte-chaise (sedan chair), even ascending the Leaning Tower of Pisa in this manner. Since there was no precedent for portraying a disabled heir to the throne, the Crown Prince was chronicled and painted conventionally, as able-bodied, and even thought of himself as such. A glimpse of his handicap is shown in the view of his arrival at Venice in 1739, but it was not until 1761, while in exile in Munich during the Seven Years’ War, that he was portrayed in a wheelchair. With his premature death from smallpox at the age of 41, however, the Elector’s great promise went unfulfilled.

Exhibition | Chippendale’s Director

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 14, 2018

Press release (9 February 2018) from The Met:

Chippendale’s Director: The Designs and Legacy of a Furniture Maker
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 14 May 2018 — 9 January 2019

Curated by Femke Speelberg and Alyce Englund

Attributed to Benjamin Randolph and possibly carved by Hercules Courtenay, side chair (detail), ca. 1769, made in Philadelphia, mahogany, northern white cedar, modern upholstery (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1974.325).

Thomas Chippendale (1718–1779) has been a household name in the furniture world since the mid-18th century. He is remembered today for the furniture produced by his successful London workshop as well as his influential book of furniture designs, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director. To celebrate the 300th anniversary of Chippendale’s birth, the exhibition Chippendale’s Director: The Designs and Legacy of a Furniture Maker will open at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 14 and look closely at how the unprecedented publication cemented Chippendale’s name as England’s most famous cabinetmaker and also endured to inspire furniture design up to the present day. Built around works in The Met collection, the exhibition will combine the original preparatory drawings from the Chippendale workshop with a selection of British and American furniture inspired by Chippendale’s designs and aesthetic. The legacy of Chippendale will be presented through representations in portrait painting and revival pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Chippendale-inspired chair, designed in 1984 by the architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, will be one of the highlights.

Born and trained in the north of England, Thomas Chippendale had moved to London to start his own workshop by 1748. One of many cabinetmakers in the thriving metropolis, he devised an innovative business plan to market his furniture by creating a book of design, issued in 1754 as The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director. The book had a dual function: to show prospective clients what he could design and make, and to inform the tastes of both ‘gentlemen’ and his colleagues. With 160 designs for seating, beds, tables, cabinets, shelves, and other furnishings in a wide variety of styles, from Rococo and Chinoiserie to Gothic-Revival, the Director was the most extensive publication of its kind. Copies of the book quickly appeared beyond the British market in the American Colonies, where those in the aspiring mercantile class sought to fill their homes with furnishings in the latest fashion.

The exhibition will be arranged thematically in two adjoining rooms (galleries 751 and 752, on the second floor of The American Wing). The exhibition will open with the first edition of Chippendale’s Director paired with three chairs signifying the geographic and continuing reach of his work—one made in Chippendale’s London workshop; one made around 1769 for General Cadwalader’s posh townhouse by Philadelphia craftsmen; and one designed by Venturi and Brown as a modern reflection on the Chippendale chair. The gallery will also feature printed works illustrating the context in which Chippendale conceived his book, including popular publications by furniture designers on the European continent, such as Daniel Marot and François Cuvillies, and the few English publications that preceded Chippendale’s work. Alongside the Director, publications of the works of Inigo Jones and Sir Christopher Wren will denote how England embraced print culture as a way to celebrate its own artistic achievements, and how artists and craftsmen used the medium as a promotional tool. The works in this gallery will stand against the backdrop of the permanently installed Rococo-style architectural woodwork and wallpaper from the Great Hall of the Van Rensselaer House, allowing the visitor a direct window into the early impact of European print culture in America.

For the unique occasion of this exhibition, the second gallery will feature a selection of original drawings dismounted temporarily from The Met’s two Chippendale albums for the first time since their acquisition. Approximately 20 of a total of 200 drawings will be on view, and images of the complete collection of The Met’s Chippendale drawings will be digitally projected in the gallery. The drawings provide an intimate behind-the-scenes view of the creation of the Director and highlight aspects of the drawing techniques, variety in forms and decorations, and the practical information Chippendale incorporated into his furniture designs. The drawings will be accompanied by groupings of furniture and paintings that focus on the different styles in which Chippendale worked, new forms of furniture that emerged during his lifetime, and the ways in which Chippendale’s designs were absorbed by furniture makers in various regions and at different moments in time.

The exhibition is organized by Femke Speelberg, Associate Curator, Drawings and Prints, and Alyce Englund, Assistant Curator, The American Wing.

The exhibition will be featured on The Met website and on Facebook and Twitter and the special Chippendale300 website. Blog posts for the “Now at The Met” section of the website will be written by the exhibition’s curators. An issue of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin on Chippendale’s Director, by Morrison H. Heckscher, Curator Emeritus of The American Wing, will be published in concert with the exhibition. The Met’s quarterly Bulletin program is supported in part by the Lila Acheson Wallace Fund for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, established by the cofounder of Reader’s Digest. This Bulletin made possible by the William Cullen Bryant Fellows of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Exhibition | Visitors to Versailles

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 13, 2018

An earlier posting included information for the exhibition at Versailles, but here’s information for the exhibition at The Met, including details for the English edition catalogue, distributed by Yale UP:

Visitors to Versailles: From Louis XIV to the French Revolution
Château de Versailles, 24 October 2017 — 25 February 2018
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 16 April — 29 July 2018

Curated by Bertrand Rondot and Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide

The palace of Versailles and its gardens have attracted travelers ever since it was transformed under the direction of the Sun King, Louis XIV, from a simple hunting lodge into one of the most magnificent and public courts of Europe. French and foreign travelers, including royalty, ambassadors, artists, musicians, writers, scientists, grand tourists, and day-trippers, all flocked to the royal palace surrounded by its extensive formal gardens. Versailles was always a truly international setting, and not only drew visitors from Europe and America, but also hosted dignitaries from as far away as Thailand, India, and Tunisia. Their official receptions at Versailles and gift exchanges with the king were among the attractions widely recorded in tourists’ diaries and court gazettes.

Bringing together works from The Met, the Château de Versailles, and over 50 lenders, this exhibition will highlight the experiences of travelers from 1682, when Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles, to 1789, when the royal family was forced to leave the palace and return to Paris. Through paintings, portraits, furniture, tapestries, carpets, costumes, porcelain, sculpture, arms and armor, and guidebooks, the exhibition will illustrate what visitors encountered at court, what kind of welcome and access to the palace they received, and, most importantly, what impressions, gifts, and souvenirs they took home with them.

Daniëlle O. Kisluk-Grosheide and Bertrand Rondot, eds., Visitors to Versailles: From Louis XIV to the French Revolution (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018), 392 pages, ISBN: 9781588396228, $65.

Exhibition | France, Between Enlightenment and Gallantry

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 11, 2018

From the Städtischen Museen Freiburg:

La France, Zwischen Aufklärung und Galanterie: Meisterwerke der Druckgraphik​
La France au siècle des Lumières et de la galanterie: Chefs-d’œuvre de la gravure
La France, Between Enlightenment and Gallantry: Masterworks of Graphic Reproduction
Augustinermuseum, Freiburg, 24 February — 3 June 2018

Das französische Bürgertum des 18. Jahrhunderts liebte gute Unterhaltung: galant und charmant, mit Witz und scharfem Verstand. Reich bebilderte Bücher erfreuten sich größter Beliebtheit. Die Verlage druckten Romane, Gedichte und Theaterstücke mit Illustrationen und gaben Graphikserien heraus, gestochen nach Gemälden des Rokoko.

Angespornt durch die große Nachfrage schufen die Künstler der Zeit wahre druckgraphische Meisterwerke. Das Haus der Graphischen Sammlung zeigt Zeichnungen, Graphiken und illustrierte Ausgaben galanter Literatur, satirischer Romane und moralischer Fabeln aus der Schenkung des Freiburger Sammlers Josef Lienhart, darunter Radierungen von François Boucher und Bilderfindungen Antoine Watteaus.

Hélène Iehl and Felix Reusse, eds., La France—Zwischen Aufklärung und Galanterie: Meisterwerke der Druckgraphik aus der Zeit Watteaus (Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2018), 192 pages, ISBN: 9783731906339, $53. [French and German Text]

Exhibitions | Colony: Australia and Colony: Frontier Wars

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 9, 2018

Press release (6 February 2018) for the exhibitions:

Colony: Australia 1770–1861
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 15 March — 15 July 2018

Colony: Frontier Wars
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 15 March — 2 September 2018

NGV Australia will host two complementary exhibitions that explore Australia’s complex colonial history and the art that emerged during and in response to this period. Presented concurrently, these two ambitious and large-scale exhibitions, Colony: Australia 1770–1861 and Colony: Frontier Wars, offer differing perspectives on the colonisation of Australia.

Richard Browne (illustrator), Insects, 1813, p. 52 in Select Specimens from Nature of the Birds Animals &c &c of New South Wales collected and arranged by Thomas Skottowe, 1813, watercolour (Sydney: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, SAFE/PXA 555).

Featuring an unprecedented assemblage of loans from major public institutions around Australia, Colony: Australia 1770–1861 is the most comprehensive survey of Australian colonial art to date. The exhibition explores the rich diversity of art, craft, and design produced between 1770, the arrival of Lieutenant James Cook and the Endeavour, and 1861, the year the NGV was established.

The counterpoint to Colony: Australia 1770–1861, Colony: Frontier Wars presents a powerful response to colonisation through a range of historical and contemporary works by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists dating from pre-contact times to present day. From nineteenth-century drawings by esteemed Wurundjeri artist and leader, William Barak, to the iridescent LED light boxes of Jonathan Jones, this exhibition reveals how Aboriginal people have responded to the arrival of Europeans with art that is diverse, powerful, and compelling.

Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV said: “Cook’s landing marks the beginning of a history that still has repercussions today. This two-part exhibition presents different perspectives of a shared history with unprecedented depth and scope, featuring a breadth of works never-before-seen in Victoria. In order to realise this ambitious project, we have drawn upon the expertise and scholarship of many individuals from both within and outside the NGV. We are extremely grateful to the Aboriginal Elders and advisory groups who have offered their guidance, expertise and support,” said Ellwood.

Port Jackson Painter, Half-length Portrait of Gna-na-gna-na, ca. 1790, gouache (Canberra, National Library of Australia, Rex Nan Kivell Collection NK144/D).

Joy Murphy-Wandin, Senior Wurundjeri Elder, said: “I am overwhelmed at the magnitude and integrity of this display: such work and vision is a credit to the curatorial team. The NGV is to be congratulated for providing a visual truth that will enable the public to see, and hopefully understand, First Peoples’ heartache, pain and anger. Colony: Australia 1770–1861 / Frontier Wars is a must-see for all if we are to realise and action true reconciliation.”

Charting key moments of history, life, and culture in the colonies, Colony: Australia 1770–1861 includes over 600 diverse and significant works, including examples of historical Aboriginal cultural objects, early watercolours, illustrated books, drawings, prints, paintings, sculpture, and photographs, to a selection of furniture, fashion, textiles, decorative arts, and even taxidermy specimens.

Highlights from the exhibition include a wondrous ‘cabinet of curiosities’ showcasing the earliest European images of Australian flowers and animals, including the first Western image of a kangaroo and illustrations by the talented young watercolourist Sarah Stone. Examples of early colonial cabinetmaking also feature, including the convict made and decorated Dixson chest containing shells and natural history specimens, as well as a rarely seen panorama of Melbourne in 1841 will also be on display.

Following the development of Western art and culture, the exhibition includes early drawings and paintings by convict artists such as convicted forgers Thomas Watling and Joseph Lycett; the first oil painting produced in the colonies by professional artist John Lewin; work by the earliest professional female artists, Mary Morton Allport, Martha Berkeley and Theresa Walker; landscapes by John Glover and Eugene von Guérard; photographs by the first professional photographer in Australia, George Goodman, and a set of Douglas Kilburn’s silver-plated daguerreotypes, which are the earliest extant photographs of Indigenous peoples.

Colony: Frontier Wars attests to the resilience of culture and community, and addresses difficult aspects of Australia’s shared history, including dispossession and the stolen generation, through the works of Julie Gough, Brook Andrew, Maree Clarke, Ricky Maynard, Marlene Gilson, Julie Dowling, S. T. Gill, J. W. Lindt, Gordon Bennett, Arthur Boyd, Tommy McRae, Christian Thompson, and many more.

Giving presence to the countless makers whose identities have been lost as a consequence of colonialism, Colony: Frontier Wars also includes a collection of anonymous photographic portraits and historical cultural objects, including shields, clubs, spear throwers and spears, by makers whose names, language groups and Countries were not recorded at the time of collection. Challenging global museum conventions, the exhibition will credit the subjects and makers of these cultural objects as ‘once known’ rather than ‘unknown’.

Colony: Australia 1770–1861 / Frontier Wars (Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2018), 394 pages, ISBN: 9781925432503, $50.

This publication accompanies the two-part exhibition Colony: Australia 1770–1861 and Colony: Frontier Wars, which explores Australia’s shared history. Featuring works from the National Gallery of Victoria and key collections throughout Australia, it highlights the multiple perspectives on our colonial history through new scholarship and first-person statements from contemporary artists. This volume is a valuable addition to existing analyses of Australia’s complex colonial past.

Brook Andrew, Robert Andrew, Louise Anemaat, Alisa Bunbury, Maree Clarke, Bindi Cole Chocka, Michael Cook, Carol Cooper, Julie Dowling, Amanda Dunsmore, Rebecca Edwards, Daina Fletcher, Elle Freak, Joanna Gilmour, Dr Ted Gott, Dr Julie Gough, Genevieve Grieves, Dr David Hansen, Peter Hughes, David Hurlston, Julia Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Cathy Leahy, Greg Lehman, Dr Donna Leslie, Dr Jane Lydon, John McPhee, Kimberley Moulton, Aunty Joy Murphy-Wandin AO, Richard Neville, Sarina Noordhuis-Fairfax, John Packham, Steaphan Paton, Cara Pinchbeck, Elspeth Pitt, Dr Joseph Pugliese, r e a, Beckett Rozentals, Dr Lynette Russell, Myles Russell-Cook, Judith Ryan AM, Yhonnie Scarce, Caitlin Sutton, Dr Christian Thompson, James Tylor (Possum), Michael Varcoe-Cocks, Judy Watson, H. J. Wedge, Danielle Whitfield, Nat Williams, Susan van Wyk.

Exhibition | Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 4, 2018

From the National Portrait Gallery:

Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., 11 May 2018 — 10 March 2019

Curated by Asma Naeem

Silhouettes—cut paper profiles—were a hugely popular and democratic form of portraiture in the 19th century, offering virtually instantaneous likenesses of everyone from presidents to those who were enslaved. The exhibition Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now explores this relatively unstudied art form by examining its rich historical roots and considering its forceful contemporary presence. The show features works from the Portrait Gallery’s extensive collection of silhouettes, such as those by Auguste Edouart, who captured the likenesses of such notable figures as John Quincy Adams and Lydia Maria Child, and at the same time, the exhibition reveals how contemporary artists are reimagining silhouettes in bold and unforgettable ways.

Highlights of the historical objects include a double-silhouette portrait of a same-sex couple and a rarely seen life-size silhouette of a nineteen-year-old enslaved girl, along with the bill of her sale from 1796. The featured contemporary artists are Kara Walker, who makes panoramic silhouettes of plantation life and African American history; Canadian artist Kristi Malakoff, who cuts paper to make life-size sculptures depicting a children’s Maypole dance; MacArthur-prize-winner Camille Utterback, who will present an interactive digital work that reacts to visitors’ shadows and movements; and Kumi Yamashita, who ‘sculpts’ light and shadow with objects to create mixed-media profiles of people who are not there. With both historical and contemporary explorations into the silhouette, Black Out reveals new pathways between our past and present, particularly with regard to how we can reassess notions of race, power, individualism, and even, our digital selves.

This exhibition is curated by Portrait Gallery Curator of Prints, Drawings and Media Arts, Asma Naeem.

Asma Naeem, Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now (Princeton University Press, 2018), 192 pages, ISBN: 978 0691180588, $45.

Exhibition | Blondel, Architecte des Lumières

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 2, 2018

Opening next month in Metz:

Blondel, Architecte des Lumières
Galerie de l’Arsenal, Metz, 12 April — 13 July 2018

Architecte parisien, académicien, professeur royal, Jacques-François Blondel (1705–1774) vint à Metz en 1761. Il est chargé par le Maréchal d’Estrées d’aménager les places autour de la Cathédrale Saint-Étienne. Son projet, réalisé quelques années plus tard, constitue l’un des meilleurs ensembles urbains du xviiie siècle. En effet, avant tout théoricien, ses constructions sont rares et précieuses. Son chef-d’oeuvre est incontestablement l’aménagement de la Place d’Armes à Metz qui se situe dans la lignée de ses prestigieuses consoeurs parisiennes, que sont Vendôme ou Concorde. Cette exposition inédite, accompagnant la candidature de « Metz royale et impériale » sur la liste du patrimoine mondial, propose de faire découvrir à travers le projet messin les talents multiples de Jacques-François Blondel, collaborateur de l’Encyclopédie de Diderot et d’Alembert, auteur prolifique, créateur de décors éphémères, concepteurs de nombreux projets et surtout professeur qui forma toute une génération d’architectes européens et dont la méthode d’enseignement servira de fondement au système actuel d’apprentissage de l’architecture.

Une production de la Ville de Metz en partenariat avec la Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine de Paris, l’École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Nancy et la Cité musicale-Metz.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

More information about Metz’s UNESCO application is available here:

The National Committee of French World Heritage Properties, meeting on January 9, 2009, issued a favorable opinion about the inclusion of Metz on the French tentative list. This is only a first step, but it is essential. The city is eligible for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Metz has accumulated an incredible architectural and urban heritage over time. Under the label “Royal and imperial Metz,” the application aims at recognizing the unusual urban adventure that took place in the Messin city from the second half of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, before, during and after the German annexation [in 1871].

Exhibition | Architecture et Pouvoir

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 2, 2018

In 1903 Paul Tornow’s neo-Gothic portal for the Cathedral of Metz replaced the classical portal designed by Jacques-François Blondel, which dated to 1764.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

From Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine:

Architecture et Pouvoir: Un Portail pour la Cathédrale de Metz
Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Paris, 28 March — September 2018

Curated by Aurélien Davrius

En parallèle de l’exposition Blondel, architecte des Lumières présentée à Metz, du 12 avril au 13 juillet 2018, le musée des Monuments français, en partenariat avec la Ville de Metz et l’École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Nancy, propose une exposition-dossier consacrée à la singulière fortune du portail de la cathédrale de Metz.

Le portail élevé en 1764 par Jacques-François Blondel est remplacé par le portail néo-gothique que nous connaissons aujourd’hui, inauguré en 1903. Les photographies et documents rassemblés dans l’exposition retracent l’histoire de cette transformation ; ils soulignent aussi la manière dont les deux portails ont chacun servi de support à la manifestation et à l’expression du pouvoir politique. Le roi Louis XV tout d’abord, à qui l’œuvre de Jacques-François Blondel rendait hommage ; Guillaume II ensuite, kaiser du Second Reich immortalisé sous le traits du prophète Daniel sur le portail néo-gothique conçu par son architecte, Paul Tornow (1848–1921).

La massivité et la dissonance du vocabulaire classique du portique élevé par Jacques-François Blondel avec le style gothique de la cathédrale, maintes fois décriées dès le début du XIXe siècle, ont certainement contribué à cette métamorphose. Cependant, dans le contexte de l’annexion de l’Alsace-Moselle par la Prusse, son démantèlement au profit du portail néo-gothique de Paul Tornow invite aussi à interroger la portée politique du geste architectural : entre francisation et germanisation d’un territoire, le nouveau pouvoir n’a-t-il pas tenté de faire disparaître les traces d’un certain passé pour inscrire sa propre histoire ?