Exhibition | Ruben and Isabel Toledo: Labor of Love

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 17, 2018


Press release (6 December 2018) from the DIA:

Ruben and Isabel Toledo: Labor of Love
Detroit Institute of Arts, 16 December 2018 — 7 July 2019

Organized by Laurie Ann Farrell

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) presents Ruben and Isabel Toledo: Labor of Love, a major exhibition of new works created by the artistic couple in response to works in the DIA’s permanent collection. This three-part exhibition project includes a large-scale installation designed by the Toledos in response to iconic Diego Rivera cartoons from his Detroit Industry Murals; additional new works by the Toledos responding to works in the DIA’s collection, located throughout the museum; and a collaboration with local nonprofit Sew Great Detroit, through which the Toledos worked with seamstresses from the organization to generate a collection of handmade limited-edition tote bags to complement the exhibition.

Francisco de Goya, Dona Amalia Bonells de Costa, ca. 1805, oil on canvas (Detroit Institute of Arts).

For Labor of Love, Ruben and Isabel Toledo produced an innovative range of new works that highlight their creative synergy, connect the past with the present, and will inspire the DIA’s visitors to understand connections between fashion and art with the works in the DIA’s collection—in new and unexpected ways.

Ruben and Isabel Toledo: Labor of Love will open at the DIA on December 16, 2018, and run through July 7, 2019. The exhibition is organized by Laurie Ann Farrell, the DIA’s Curator and Department Head for The James Pearson Duffy Department of Modern & Contemporary Art. The exhibition is free with museum admission, which is free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Isabel Toledo (Cuban-American, b. 1961) is a renowned fashion designer and artist whose oeuvre includes the dress that Michelle Obama wore to President Barack Obama’s 2009 Inauguration. Ruben Toledo (Cuban-America, b. 1961) is an artist whose paintings and illustrations also have strong connections to fashion and style.

This exhibition marks the first time the artists have made works inspired by a major museum’s collection. Working within the framework of the DIA’s world-class, encyclopedic collection, the Toledos engaged with works by Francisco Goya, Alison Saar, Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, Robert Motherwell, and others from Central Africa and ancient Egypt. By mining the DIA’s collection as inspiration for new sculptures, paintings, drawings, and installations, the Toledos, together with the DIA, present the Museum’s collection in a new light.

Explains Farrell, “The cumulative experience of a large exhibition and the discovery of works across a variety of galleries will introduce visitors to the power and poetry of the Toledos’ collaborative process while simultaneously offering new insights into works that span cultures and time.”

Adds Salvador Salort-Pons, the DIA’s Director, President, and CEO, “Isabel and Ruben’s inspiring work in dialogue with our world class collection will infuse our building with ‘a Cuban accent.’ I am excited to see the energy of this dialogue, which together with our impactful interpretive models will help the museum fulfill its mission to ‘help visitors find personal meaning in art, individually and with each other.’ This exhibition is a good example of the ways that the DIA can resonate with a broad and diverse audience, and find new opportunities to engage people with art and fashion.”

The museum’s expansive holdings are displayed in 130 galleries spanning three floors of the 658,000-square-foot museum. Visitors will have the opportunity to discover original Toledo creations positioned alongside the works that inspired their conception within 10 different galleries ranging from ancient Egyptian through contemporary art, throughout the entire museum. A printed gallery guide will include a map of where the Toledo works are located within the galleries along with a short introductory text in both English and Spanish.

For example, in the Egyptian Galleries, Ruben and Isabel collaborated on a linen sculpture that invites viewers to consider the way ancient Egyptians took such great care of the dead, protecting the body with bandaging to prepare it for the afterlife. The Toledos’ work, Human Remains, displays how linen records the shape of the wearer by molding to the body. The geometric patterns on their sculpture are inspired by the mummy on view in the center of the gallery.

Another example is First Lady Silhouette, created by Isabel, which holds court in an Early American period room. Viewers will delight in seeing fabric used to create Michelle Obama’s lemongrass colored coat and dress adorning this new work’s breastplate on a dress that is designed to mirror those worn in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The skirt of the dress also features Ruben’s illustrations reimagining President Barack Obama and the Former First Lady on their historic promenade to the White House in 2009.

In addition, the Toledos have designed an immersive experience set within a 10,000-square-foot temporary exhibition space. The gallery will present five original, rarely seen cartoons from Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals in the DIA’s collection alongside new works by the Toledos that explore Detroit’s history of industry and modernization. While interpreting the epic Rivera murals, the Toledos creatively draw parallels to their worlds of fashion and art. Extrapolating on the past, present, and future in art, the artists project and distill the poetic and spiritual essence that they see as essential to all of the arts.

Ruben Toledo’s Color Code paintings line the first gallery of the Labor of Love special exhibition, with four paintings of reclining women that recall Diego Rivera’s monumental women known as the Four Races in the Detroit Industry Murals. Ruben’s larger-than-life figures are artfully camouflaged through the patterned surface of their skin. The artist notes that his women have been weaponized as a commentary on our current political climate. His contemporary adaptations of Rivera’s women offer insight into the various ways that Ruben’s work bridges gaps between art and fashion.

The DIA and the Toledos partnered with the nonprofit Sew Great Detroit (SGD), a branch of Alternatives for Girls (AFG), as another component of the exhibition. The Sew Great Detroit seamstresses’ interaction with the artists offered many insights into the realities of the fashion industry—a field in which many of the participants have strong interest. This year-long partnership has been documented and will be presented as part of the exhibition. This is an unprecedented partnership for both the Toledos and the DIA.

Isabel Toledo and Ruben Toledo, Synthetic Cloud, 2018, nylon, as installed at the DIA, 2018.

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About Ruben and Isabel Toledo

The Cuban-born Toledos met in high school in New Jersey and married in 1984. Andy Warhol was a guiding light for them; they met him as teenagers at a Fiorucci store. Traversing the fashion, illustration and the fine art world, Warhol taught them by example the value and cultural richness of a borderless artistic world. They have utilized this creative freedom and risk-taking approach in both of their individual works and their collaborative projects. This exhibition will further advance this fearless approach by allowing them to incorporate illustration, photographic research and social anthropology as well as film-making techniques to explore new ways of demonstrating the creative cross pollination they thrive on.

A muse to her husband’s sculpture, painting and illustration, Isabel Toledo’s sculptural designs are often influenced by her husband’s creative sketches for her designs. Ruben’s surreal view of life brings humor and unconventionality to his wife’s industrial world. The Toledos’ long history of collaboration includes creating original costumes and scenography for the Broadway musical After Midnight (2014) for which Isabel Toledo received a Tony nomination for costume design. Most recently, the couple reimagined George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker for the Miami City Ballet and Music Center in Los Angeles in 2017. Their combined work over the past 30 years both inside and outside the art world has resulted in a highly personal visual language with a diverse and cohesive rhythm.

In 1985 Isabel Toledo presented her first fashion collection. She went from being a designer’s designer with an underground cult-like following to being a global household name when Michelle Obama wore her lemongrass lace ensemble to President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony in 2009. Isabel Toledo was presented with the third annual Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion from the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2008.

Ruben is a painter, sculptor and fashion chronicler who creates incisive illustrations for top international magazines, journals and fashion retailers, including the New Yorker, Vogue, Louis Vuitton, Nordstrom, Harper’s Bazaar, Visionair and The New York Times. His work has been shown at prestigious institutions including the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Pitti Palace in Florence.

Along with her husband, Ruben Toledo, Isabel was the recipient of the Cooper-Hewitt Design Award for their work in fashion in 2005, she was also the recipient of an Otis Critics’ award by the Los Angeles-based Otis College of Art and Design. In 2010, the Toledos were awarded honorary doctoral degrees in fine arts by Otis College in Los Angeles, CA.

About Alternatives For Girls’ Sew Great Detroit Program

Alternatives For Girls (AFG) is a Detroit-based 501(c)3 nonprofit serving homeless and high-risk girls and young women through safe shelter, street outreach, educational support, crisis intervention, and counseling. AFG’s Sew Great Detroit is a social enterprise program that provides sewing and employment training. Women in the program learn valuable skills, like machine sewing and hand finishing techniques, understanding characteristics of fabric, fabric cutting methods, and beginning design concepts. The women earn an hourly wage for their work, which is supported through contracted sewing projects.

Searching for the 1725 Portrait of Esther Barbara von Sandrart

Posted in exhibitions, notes & queries by Editor on December 6, 2018

From H-ArtHist:

Georg Daniel Heumann, after Georges Desmarees, Portrait of Esther Barbara von Sandrart, 1727, 34 × 23 cm (Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum).

Im Rahmen der Vorbereitung für die Ausstellung Die Welt im Bildnis: Frankfurter Porträtsammlungen vom 16.–18. Jahrhundert, die unter der Leitung von Prof. Dr. Jochen Sander im Frühjahr 2020 im Museum Giersch der Goethe-Universität stattfinden wird, wird nach dem Porträt der Esther Barbara von Sandrart gesucht.

Kernelement der geplanten Ausstellung ist eine Sammlung von Porträtgrafiken aus dem Bestand der Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg, die aus dem Besitz der Frankfurter Patrizierfamilie Holzhausen stammt. 1923 gelangten die druckgrafischen Blätter gemeinsam mit dem Büchernachlass Adolf von Holzhausens in die Universitätsbibliothek. Unter diesen knapp 1200 Blättern (meist Kupferstiche und Schabkunstblätter, aber auch Holzschnitte und Radierungen) befindet sich das Porträt der Esther Barbara von Sandrart im Kupferstich von Georg Daniel Heumann.

Esther Barbara von Sandrart (1651–1731/33), geb. Bloemart, war die Ehefrau des Joachim von Sandrart und selbst Kunstsammlerin. Ihr Porträt hielt man oft fälschlicherweise für das der Maria Sibylla Merian. Der Stich Heumanns von 1727 basiert auf einem Gemälde des Malers Georges Desmarees aus dem Jahr 1725. Es zeigt die Witwe von Sandrart in einem Studierzimmer vor einer Karte Südostasiens (?), ein Detail, das im Stich fehlt. Auf dem Tisch vor ihr ausgebreitet und in dem kleinen geöffneten Kabinettschrank präsentiert sich dem Betrachter eine Naturaliensammlung bestehend aus Muscheln, präparierten Schmetterlingen und Insekten.

In der Ausstellung im Museum Giersch soll der Stich in einer Sektion zum Porträt des Wissenschaftlers und Naturforschers präsentiert werden. Wünschenswert wäre eine Gegenüberstellung mit dem Gemälde Desmarees‘. Bisher ist es aber nicht gelungen, dieses zu lokalisieren. Im Wikipedia-Artikel zur Person Joachim von Sandrarts wird es ohne Verweis auf die Bildquelle gezeigt.

Jeglicher Hinweis zur Ermittlung des Aufenthaltsorts von diesem Gemälde ist von großer Hilfe. Bitte setzten Sie sich mit uns in Verbindung:
Corinna Gannon M.A.
Kunstgeschichtliches Institut Frankfurt am Main
Senckenberganlage 31
60325 Frankfurt am Main

Exhibition | MONUMENTality

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 5, 2018

Bruno Braquehais, Statue of Napoleon I after the Toppling of the Vendôme Column, 1871
(Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute)

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Press release (19 November 2018) for the exhibition:

Getty Center, Los Angeles, 4 December 2018 — 21 April 2019

Curated by Frances Terpak, Maristella Casciato, and Katherine Rochester

As the role and meaning of monuments in contemporary culture takes on new urgency, the Getty Research Institute is presenting an exhibition that connects these contemporary concerns to the past. MONUMENTality invites viewers to consider how the meanings of monuments can change over time and why some monuments endure while others fall.

“In organizing both this extraordinary exhibition and the current scholar year theme, the Getty Research Institute has focused on an especially timely subject—monuments and monumentality. Here, art history has very contemporary implications as many people, especially in the U.S., are passionately debating and re-examining the roles that monuments play in our communities and cities,” said Andrew Perchuk, acting director of the Getty Research Institute. “The GRI’s special collections are a rich source of archival material that makes it possible to take a broad view of both the varied life of monuments and the concept of the monumental from the classical to the contemporary.”

The exhibition investigates various paradigms of monumentality generated through systems of belief and structures of power, presenting historical rare books, political ephemera, photographs, and contemporary art about or inspired by monuments from antiquity to present day.

Artists in the exhibition include Dennis Adams, Annalisa Alloatti, Lane Barden, Mirella Bentivoglio, Joyce Cutler-Shaw, Tacita Dean, Theaster Gates, Leandro Katz, Michael Light, Benedetta Cappa Marinetti, Edward Ranney, Ed Ruscha, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, Lebbeus Woods, and more.

Objects in the exhibition date back to the 16th century, depicting early modern as well as classical monuments. For example, the renowned 18th-century printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranesi created grandiose reconstructions of Ancient Rome and a detailed scrolling engraving of Trajan’s column, erected in 113 CE. Rare 19th-century photographs document rebelling citizens during the 1871 Paris commune surrounding the toppled statue of Napoleon Bonaparte in the Place Vendôme, illustrating how the erection and destruction of monuments has been a recurring theme from antiquity to the present.

Among the oldest monuments explored in the exhibition are the Nazca lines, hundreds of ancient geoglyphs drawn into the southern desert of Peru by the Nazca people between 200 BCE and 500 CE. Recorded by photographers in the 20th century these enigmatic monuments are subject to plentiful theories about their meaning and purpose. In the exhibition, they are represented through photographs by Edward Ranney (American, b. 1942) who visited the sites repeatedly throughout the last half of the 20th century.

Juxtaposed with the Nazca images are photographs of earthworks created in the 1960s and 1970s by American artists who drew inspiration from these ancient monuments.

“Just as size and scale have been important in human efforts to mark cosmic and geological time, they are used by artists to invoke the monument and locate meaning. The phenomenology of the monument, the power structures behind monuments, and the meanings of monument, even when lost, are compelling subjects for contemporary artists,” said Frances Terpak exhibition co-curator and curator of photography at the Getty Research Institute. “Monuments are often made by artists but artists also take on the monument as a subject for exploring, deconstructing, and challenging.”

One of the newest objects in the exhibition is a deconstructed monument by Theaster Gates who is currently the artist in residence at the Getty Research Institute. For this exhibition Gates has toppled his own monumental piece Dancing Minstrel, 2016/18. Originally exhibited in 2016 as a larger-than-life bobble head depiction of the racist trope of the black minstrel, the installation at the Getty features the oversized parts of the figure scattered across the floor, a dramatic dismantling of a racist stereotype.

The exhibition also considers monumentality in relation to cities, both real and imagined. Design proposals and plans for the never-built Palace of the Soviets submitted during and after a major international competition in 1931–33 placed alongside a utopian plan to connect East and West Berlin at the height of the Cold War reveal how power is envisioned through the construction of the city and its monuments. The connection between monuments and the built environment is further explored through printed material, photographs, and ephemera. The impulse to document Los Angeles, for example, has spawned projects of enormous scope—such as Ed Ruscha’s extensive photo-documentations of Los Angeles Every Building on the Sunset Strip, 1966 and Hollywood Blvd, 1973 and 2002 and Lane Barden’s Linear City, a monumental tool for envisioning the city at the start of the 21st century by mapping its main arteries: water, rail, and automotive.

“Monuments, though often meant to stand for eternity, can physically change over time—from erosion, looting, war, or iconoclasm—or they can stay intact but change in their meaning, losing context or relevance, or becoming integrated with daily life in new ways. And monuments can form organically, through the ways that people interact with the built environment,” said Maristella Casciato, exhibition co-curator and curator of architecture at the Getty Research Institute. “MONUMENTality investigates the ways that monuments are necessarily dynamic, ultimately reflecting, through their endurance or failure, the world around them.”

The exhibition checklist is available here»


Exhibition | The Art of the Site: Building and Demolishing

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 5, 2018

Now on view at the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine:

The Art of the Site: Building and Demolishing from the 16th to the 21th Century
Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Paris, 9 November 2018 — 11 March 2019

Curated by Valérie Nègre and Marie-Hélène Contal

The exhibition juxtaposes different viewpoints, bringing together a collection of works and documents produced by artists, journalists, and amateurs, as well as those who work in situ: engineers, architects, contractors, and—what is rarer—labourers, through votive offerings or masterpieces produced by the Compagnons charpentiers des Devoirs du Tour de France. The exhibition ends with the statements of three contemporary architect-engineers: Patrick Bouchain, Marc Mimram, and Martin Rauch, for whom the building site is ever increasingly the space where architecture meets complexity, inventiveness and the aspirations of the modern-day world.

As the result of close collaboration between specialists of art and specialists of techniques, the exhibition offers a diverse interpretation of the theme: it casts a light on the technical dimension, as well as the social, political, and artistic dimensions. The path begins with what you would expect to find on a site: construction processes, machines, and men at work. It then highlights the political and social issues about the place that is being built. Even though the site is a highly technical area, it is also a theatre for those in charge, who like to show themselves there, and for the labourers, who are sometimes viewed as oppressed masses, sometimes viewed as heroes.

L’Art du chantier: Construire et démolir du 16e au 21e siècle (Paris, Snoeck, 2018), 283 pages, ISBN: 978-9461614728, 42€.

Print Quarterly, December 2018

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, journal articles, reviews by Editor on December 3, 2018

The eighteenth century in the current issue of Print Quarterly:

Print Quarterly 35.4 (December 2018) . . .

François Vivares after Samuel Wale, Trade Card of Henry Scott, Gardener and Fruitseller, Weybridge, Surrey, 1754, etching and engraving, 281 × 211 mm (London: The British Museum).


• Bryony Bartlett-Rawlings, “Jonathan Richardson (1667–1745) as Etcher,” pp. 392–406.
On the basis of the 1772 auction catalogue for the sale of Jonathan Richardson Jr’s collection, the article sheds light on Richardson’s activity as a printmaker, his working method, and intended audience. By quoting contemporary correspondence by and on the artist, the article also places Richardson’s etchings within the context of his life and work.

• Martin Hopkinson, “Gardeners’ Trade Cards by William Kilburn and François Vivares,” pp. 420–26.
Deservedly famous for his outstanding textile designs and illustrations to William Curtis’s Flora Londinensis, Kilburn also etched a trade card for the gardener Thomas Greening, an image of great botanical precision. A comparison is drawn with two elaborate trade cards for gardeners by François Vivares.

N O T E S  A N D  R E V I E W S

• Jean-Gérald Castex, Review of the exhibition catalogue, A Kingdom of Images: French Prints in the Age of Louis XIV, 1660–1715 (Getty Research Institute, 2015; and Bibliothèque National de France, 2015–16), pp. 430–32.

• An Van Camp, Review of Ad Stijnman and Simon Turner, ed., The New Hollstein Dutch & Flemish Etchings, Engravings, and Woodcuts, 1450–1700: Johannes Teyler and Dutch Colour Prints, parts 1–4 (Sound and Vision Publishers, 2017), pp. 432–34.

• Ger Luijten, Review of Nico Boerma, Aernout Borms, Alfons Thijs, and Jo Thijssen, eds., Kinderprenten, Volksprenten, Centsprenten, Schoolprenten: Populaire grafiek in de Nederlanden 1650–1950 (Uitgeverij Vantilt, 2014), p. 434.
“At more than a thousand pages,” this volume “is a reference work that deserves a place in any library striving to cover the history of printmaking … Written and compiled by Dutch and Flemish specialists of popular prints over a period of some ten years, it provides a mine of information that is nowhere else to be found … The book has a useful summary in English and German.”

• Anthony Dyson, Review of Richard Goddard, Drawing on Copper’: The Basire Family of Copper-Plate Engravers and Their Works (Maastricht University Press, 2016), pp. 437–39.

• Notice of the exhibition catalogue, Marcela Vondráčková, Norbert Grund (1717–1767): Půvab všedního dne / The Charm of the Everyday, Czech and English (National Gallery in Prague, 2017), p. 459.
“This handsomely-illustrated exhibition catalogue gives a survey of the work of the delightful rococo painter Norbert Grund (1717–1767), who is scarcely known outside Central Europe … We look forward to learning more … in a comprehensive monograph on Grund’s oeuvre, which is due to be published by Marcela Vondráčková.”

• Patricia Emison, Review of Susanna Berger, The Art of Philosophy: Visual Thinking in Europe from the Late Renaissance to the Early Enlightenment (Princeton University Press, 2017), pp. 471–74.
“Berger’s readable and well-illustrated account tackles the topic of logic’s contribution to the history of visualization, and of scholastics’ interest in transmitting knowledge via images … Berger has dug deep in unusual places,” including a mnemonic treatise of 1725 and eighteenth-century student notebooks from Paris and Leuven. “This is fascinating material.”

• Sarah Grant, Review of April Calahan, Fashion Plates: 150 Years of Style (Yale University Press, 2015), pp. 474–78.

Exhibition | Georges Focus: The Madness of a Painter

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 3, 2018

From the communiqué de presse:

Georges Focus (1644–1708): La folie d’un peintre de Louis XIV
Palais des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 13 October 2018 — 6 January 2019

Curated by Emmanuelle Brugerolles

La découverte de l’œuvre de Georges Focus produite lors de son enfermement aux Petites Maisons suscite aujourd’hui l’étonnement, pour ne pas dire un choc, qui nous bouleverse. Elle nous inspire le sentiment de l’inédit, du jamais vu, et remet en cause nos idées reçues. Georges Focus, membre de l’Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture sous Louis XIV, eut une double production artistique, académique d’une part, personnelle et intime, d’autre part. L’étonnant corpus réuni en France pour la première fois au Palais des Beaux-Arts, soit environ 80 dessins ainsi que des estampes et des peintures provenant de l’université d’Édimbourg, de collections particulières et d’institutions publiques dont les Beaux-Arts de Paris, rend compte de sa trajectoire unique. Une occasion d’explorer l’oeuvre exceptionnelle et singulière d’un artiste de l’époque de Louis XIV, atteint de folie.

Emmanuelle Brugerolles, ed., Georges Focus: La Folie d’un Peintre de Louis XIV (Paris: Beaux-Arts de Paris Editions, 2018), 447 pages, ISBN: 978-2840565444, $80.

The full press release is available here»

Exhibition | Bed Furnishings in Early America

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 30, 2018

Now on view at the Wadsworth Atheneum:

Bed Furnishings in Early America: An Intimate Look
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, 26 September 2018 — 27 January 2019

Curated by Brandy Culp

Anna Tuels, Paper Template-pieced Quilt, Hourglass, 1785, New England, various worsteds, silk, and printed cottons, with a wool backing and wool batting (Wadsworth Atheneum, 1967.75).

From birth to death, the bed played a significant role in life’s daily cycles. Almost a room within a room, the bed was a place for sleeping as well as intimate activities, such as sex, childbirth, nursing, convalescence, and even death. From the seventeenth to early nineteenth century there was a bed in almost every room of the home. The ‘best bed’—today we call it the master bed—was usually located in either the distinguished parlor or ‘best’ bedchamber. These were public spaces, where guests were entertained and daily activities took place.

The fully-outfitted bedstead was one of the most expensive household items in Early America, regardless of one’s wealth. Bed hangings, counterpanes, coverlets, bed rugs, and quilts bear witness to the aspirations of their owners and makers. All are exceptional examples of handwork that reflect the skills of talented artisans, whether hired professional or homemaker, and mark the global intersections between people of various cultures. Bed Furnishings in Early America, An Intimate Look explores the evolution of privacy, intimacy, status, and global exchange through the bedstead, its textiles, and their placement within the home into the late nineteenth century.

Exhibition | Bouke de Vries: War and Pieces

Posted in exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on November 30, 2018

Bouke de Vries, War and Pieces, 2012, 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century porcelain, plastic, sprayed plaster, acrylic, steel, aluminum, gilded brass, and mixed media (installation view at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 2018).

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From the press release, via Art Daily:

Bouke de Vries: War and Pieces
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, 4 October 2018 — 6 January 2019
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, 2 February — 12 May 2019

For years, the work of celebrated artist Bouke de Vries has been shown all over Europe in museums, galleries, castles, and palaces. America won’t be left behind. Now and through the middle of 2019, several sculptures by Dutch-born de Vries will be making their stateside debut at museums in Hartford, Connecticut; Montgomery, Alabama; and Nashville, Tennessee. Foremost among them is his pièce de résistance: War and Pieces, a 26-foot-long installation inspired by the lavish decorative centerpieces of 18th-century European banqueting tables.

The first venue is the Wadsworth Atheneum, in Hartford, where de Vries is the featured artist in the 180th installment of the museum’s MATRIX contemporary art exhibition series, running from 4 October 2018 until 6 January 2019. “Because the Wadsworth Atheneum possesses such an outstanding collection of the very kind of porcelain figures and centerpieces that Bouke de Vries references in his monumental work,” observes Linda Roth, Senior Curator and Charles C. and Eleanor Lamont Cunningham Curator of European Decorative Arts, “featuring War and Pieces at our museum makes perfect sense.” Adds de Vries: “It is an honor to debut my most ambitious work at America’s first-ever museum of art, the Wadsworth Atheneum, in their longstanding and groundbreaking MATRIX series.”

From Hartford, War and Pieces travels South, to Alabama, where it will be on view at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts from 2 February to 12 May 2019.

Employing broken shards of various kinds of porcelain-ancient and modern—from Hummel thru blanc de Chine to IKEA—the artist has arranged them into apocalyptic vignettes of orchestrated destruction. Dead center is a towering nuclear mushroom cloud. Six mano-a-mano battle scenes flank the cloud, fought by armour-clad figures molded from 18th-century embodiments of Mars and Minerva by England’s Derby factory. The sugarcoated warring figures are mutating into cyborgs with colorful bionic limbs and weaponry from Transformer toys. The striking diversity among the sugar, porcelain and plastic underscores the tension between the handmade and the industrial. De Vries’s masterwork is an unforgettable commentary on the follies of war and is perhaps the most startling tablescape since Judy Chicago’s landmark Dinner Party, 1979.

London-based, de Vries first worked in fashion with John Galliano, Stephen Jones, and Zandra Rhodes before switching careers. Since then the 57-year-old artist has worked as a conservator of ceramics and glass, in addition to his pursuits as an artist since 2010. Ironically, the skills he deploys as a restorer went in a totally opposite direction for War and Pieces. Instead of reconstructing shattered porcelain, he deconstructed it, inaugurating a new status while creating new virtues. Says de Vries: “I have dreamed of sharing my approach to art—especially War and Pieces—at such prestigious museums around the United States.”

In addition, from 2 February until 9 June 2019, as part of Derived from the Decorative: Works by Faig Ahmed, Beth Lipman and Bouke de Vries at Nashville’s Cheekwood Estate and Gardens, other works by de Vries will be making their American bow. Peacock 1 and Glass Cloud are also both constructed of broken pieces of historic ceramic and glass. Bouke de Vries is represented in the United States by Ferrin Contemporary in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Exhibition | Thomas Gainsborough: Drawings at the Clark

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 29, 2018

Thomas Gainsborough, Landscape with Herdsman Driving Cows and Distant Buildings, mid to late 1780s, black chalk over brush and gray wash with lead white on beige laid paper, fixed with gum (Williamstown: The Clark Art Institute, gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007.8.77).

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From The Clark:

Thomas Gainsborough: Drawings at the Clark
The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1 December 2018 — 17 March 2019

Though recognized as one of the most fashionable portrait painters of the eighteenth century, Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) made hundreds of drawings of the English landscape. Abounding with foliage, cottages, and pastoral figures—shepherds driving flocks of sheep and cows drinking from pools or streams along meandering paths—Gainsborough’s landscapes present an idealized view of country life. Rather than depicting specific locales, these lyrical sheets evoke the gentle woodland and heath of his native Suffolk, in the east, and later, the mountainous Lake District of Cumbria, in the northwest. Thomas Gainsborough: Drawings at the Clark reveals the artist’s fascination with mixed-media technique: graphite, chalks, ink washes, watercolor, and oil paints intermingle on toned papers. Together, the sixteen drawings on view in the Clark’s Manton Gallery for British Art demonstrate how Gainsborough championed an imaginative approach over naturalistic detail and reveal his fascination with mixed-media technique.

Exhibition | Secret Tiepolo

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on November 26, 2018

Seven frescoes by Giandomenico Tiepolo are on public view for the first time in Vicenza:

Secret Tiepolo / Tiepolo Segreto
Palladio Museum, Vicenza, 3 November 2017 — 31 December 2018

Curated by Guido Beltramini and Fabrizio Magani

Sette straordinari affreschi di Giandomenico Tiepolo (1727–1804) da oltre cinquant’anni anni erano conservati nelle residenze dei proprietari che coraggiosamente li salvarono dalle distruzioni belliche. Oggi gli eredi, convinti dell’opportunità di un godimento pubblico di tali capolavori, li hanno destinati al Palladio Museum. Ad essi viene dedicata una mostra, realizzata grazie alle competenze e alla collaborazione della Soprintendenza di Verona diretta da Fabrizio Magani, che la cura insieme al direttore del Palladio Museum, Guido Beltramini.

In questa vicenda s’intrecciano più storie. Quella della straordinaria arte dei Tiepolo, in grado di trasformare dalla radice la tradizione frescante veneta. Quella della difesa del patrimonio artistico negli anni cupi della seconda guerra mondiale. Ma esiste una terza storia che lega in modo indissolubile gli affreschi di Palazzo Valmarana Franco agli studi palladiani: essi infatti sono realizzati due decenni dopo la straordinaria decorazione di Villa Valmarana ai Nani, per il figlio del committente, Gaetano Valmarana. Nella dimora suburbana a poca distanza dalla Rotonda palladiana, per il padre Giustino Valmarana, i Tiepolo celebrano la naturalezza di una vita ‘moralizzata’ in campagna. Vent’anni dopo, in città, a poca distanza dal Teatro Olimpico, il registro è completamente diverso: Tiepolo concepisce per il figlio una riedizione in pittura della magnificente scena del teatro all’antica di Palladio adottando non più il registro lieve e scherzoso della vita agreste ma il linguaggio aulico, monocromo ma nondimeno guizzante, della vicina architettura palladiana.

“Siamo orgogliosi di poter contribuire alla cultura della nostra città—dichiarano Camillo e Giovanni Franco, proprietari degli affreschi—con una parte della storia della nostra famiglia.” Fu fra l’altro Fausto Franco, zio dei generosi proprietari e Soprintendente ai Monumenti, a seguire il salvataggio degli affreschi di famiglia nel 1945. Dieci anni dopo lo stesso Franco, insieme—fra gli altri—a Rodolfo Pallucchini, Anthony Blunt, Rudolf Wittkower e André Chastel, fu fra i tredici fondatori del primo Consiglio scientifico del Centro palladiano, coordinato da Renato Cevese.

Tiepolo Segreto (Vicenza, Palladium Museum, 2018), 80 pages, ISBN: 978-8899765781, 17€.