Monday, October 28, 2013

The History of Florence in Painting

Abbeville Press
Slipcased, 496 pages
342 full-color illustrations, 4 gatefolds
Published 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7892-1145-3
Not Yet Published
Due in: 11/26/2013

You may be familiar with Abbeville’s series of books exploring the histories of iconic cities, including

The History of Venice in Painting,

The History of Paris in Painting and

The History of Rome in Painting.

The newest book in the series, The History of Florence in Painting, recounts the most important events in the history of Florence as captured by some of the greatest artists in the Western world, the story tellers of their time. Interest in the history of Florence has increased lately, thanks to Dan Brown’s Inferno and the book chronicles the lives of the denizens of Florence. These stories range from luminaries such as Dante and Giotto to the Medici and religious orders like the Poor Clares to inhabitants of the Santo Spirito, or residential zone for employees of the ducal palace.

In the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, Florence served as the primary destination in Italy for merchants and artists from all over Europe and the city flourished as a prototype of the modern state as well as serving as the intellectual and cultural center of Italy. This legacy endured as the city served as the trail head of the Grand Tour, a rite of passage for intellectuals, artists, and nobility as they explored the continent.

Located at the heart of the Italian peninsula, Florence was already a center of commerce and fine craftsmanship by 1252, when it began to mint its own currency, the gold florin, the “dollar of the Middle Ages.” The great wealth amassed by the Medici, the Strozzi, the Pitti, and other merchant and banking families was in some part responsible for the flowering of the arts, literature, philosophy, and science in the period that followed, a phenomenon that even then was recognized as, and called, a renaissance. The legacy of this great epoch, both tangible and spiritual, ensured that Florence would remain a beacon of culture through its succeeding centuries of ducal rule.

And Florence was all along a city of painters, whose works not only record and interpret its history—its sights; the likenesses of its leaders and luminaries; its battles, civic myths, and patron saints—but are also an integral part of that history themselves. In this magnificent volume are assembled a wide variety of artworks, both familiar and rarely seen, that, interwoven with an authoritative text, chronicle the changing fortunes of Florence—from the age of Cimabue and Giotto, through the High Renaissance of Leonardo and Michelangelo, to the Mannerism of Vasari and Bronzino, and even to the era of modern travelers like Sargent and Degas.

The History of Florence in Painting is a feast for the eyes and the intellect. It's a magnificent, absolutely huge book, a coffee table book itself as big as a coffee table. It's a worthy companion to the previous volumes in this series, which present the histories of Venice, Paris, and Rome in painting.


- Antonella Fenech Kroke, Editor, is a historian of Renaissance art, specializing in Giorgio Vasari, and a member of the Centre d’Histoire de l’Art de la Renaissance in Paris.

- Cyril Gerbron, an art historian, teaches at the Sorbonne.

- Stefano Calonaci is a historian of the city of Florence.

- Neville Rowley is currently a visiting professor of art history at the University of Campinas, Brazil.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


From October 12, 2013, to January 19, 2014, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts presents an innovative interdisciplinary exhibition, exploring for the first time the important interrelationships that exist between the visual arts and music in the Venetian Republic, from the early sixteenth century to the fall of the Serenissima at the close of the eighteenth century, a period during which these art forms served the political ambitions of the state and civic institutions and became increasingly central to the economy of the Republic.

Thanks to outstanding loans from prestigious museums and collectors, visitors to the exhibition Spendore a Venezia: Art and Music from the Renaissance to Baroque in the Serenissima will discover the splendours of Venice through the musical scene: salons, where chamber music performances were featured, the elaborate carnevale, the theatre, street performances and the festive, costumed commedia dell’arte.

Featuring approximately 120 paintings, prints and drawings, as well as historical instruments, musical manuscripts and texts, this major exhibition paints a portrait of extraordinary artistic and musical creativity. This exhibition organized by the Museum brings together masterworks by many of the most renowned names associated with the city on the lagoon: visual artists directly associated with the musical life of the city include Titian, Tintoretto, Bassano, Giovanni Battista and Domenico Tiepolo, and Francesco Guardi, many of whom were also amateur musicians, as well as Bernardo Strozzi, Pietro Longhi and Canaletto, whose paintings record the role of music in Venetian life. The exhibition also includes manuscripts and publications by Venetian composers like the Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Albinoni, Lotti and Vivaldi, with several instruments.

“In Venice, in the same way that one cannot feel except in music, one cannot think if not in images,” wrote Gabriele D’Annunzio around 1900 in his flamboyant ode to Venice. As Museum Director and Chief Curator Nathalie Bondil explains, “At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, it is now equally impossible to see without listening, to listen without seeing. Two years after the opening of the Bourgie Concert Hall – a heritage building that also possesses acoustic properties – music has found its place front and centre at the Museum. Music has already played an essential part in our audacious and original major exhibitions for the past few years. First conceived of five years ago, when Bourgie Hall was no more than a dream… here is our latest production. Rather than being treated as mere accompaniment, music is fully integrated as part of a multidisciplinary dialogue about both artistic and historical content. This combination – a fine arts museum housing a professional concert hall run by a resident music foundation – is entirely unique.”

Exhibition curator Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Associate Chief Curator and Curator of Old Masters at the MMFA and a specialist of the Italian Renaissance, developed the concept of this original exhibition produced by the MMFA under the direction of Nathalie Bondil. The exhibition’s musical accompaniment is being overseen by musicologist François Filiatrault. Extensive associated programming created by Isolde Lagacé, General and Artistic Director of the Arte Musica Foundation, includes a series of concerts with period instruments in the MMFA’s Bourgie Hall.

The works on loan for this major exhibition – including precious historical instruments – have been contributed by sixty_one prominent international collections in Canada and abroad, including: from the United States – the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Morgan Library & Museum, the New York Public Library, the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art (Washington); from Italy – the Palatine Gallery, Uffizi, Capitoline, Cini Foundation, Accademia (Venice), Museo Correr; from the rest of Europe – Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, Madrid’s Thyssen_Bornemisza, London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery and National Gallery, and the Louvre. From the beginning, the Cité de la musique in Paris has contributed to this exhibition with its scientific expertise and by loaning major instruments.

This exhibition will be circulated by the MMFA to the Portland Art Museum in Oregon from March 7 to June 8, 2014.

Visual arts, music and politics from the early sixteenth century to the fall of the Serenissima

The visual arts and musical scenes during the extraordinarily creative period from Titian to Guardi and Willaert to Vivaldi were profoundly interconnected. The world’s first public opera house (1637) opened in Venice, which boasted no fewer than nine commercial opera houses in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Modern music typography was invented in Venice, and it was there that the most important musical presses in Europe were located. Public musical concerts were crucial to the economic strength of Venice’s scuole (rich, powerful brotherhoods) and ospedali (establishments for the poor and orphans). Each year, a variety of processions were held in celebration of special occasions. These were recorded in the visual arts and celebrated in music, in turn serving its government, which sponsored the arts. Music and the visual arts also became central to state propaganda and the Republic’s state receptions and international profile.


The exhibition is organized along three broad conceptual themes reflecting specific, parallel and interrelated characteristics of art and music during this critical period of Venetian history.

Art and Music in the Public Sphere

For Venice, steeped in classical and Medieval culture, music symbolized universal harmony and, by extension, good government. Music contributed to the splendour of civic commemorations, official celebrations and religious rites, and its role in the ducal chapel, public processions, churches, scuole, ospedali and other places central to Venetian life was immortalized by painters, printmakers and draftsmen.

Ceremonies and Processions

Music accompanied the ruling doge in processions announced by a fanfare of brass. In the chapel, he was extolled by wind, string and keyboard instruments and large choirs. This section presents a wide range of works, including a rare print of the procession of the doge that is over 4 metres long,

a portrait by Titian of Doge Francesco Venier:

Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian
(about 1488–1576)
Portrait of Doge Francesco Venier
About 1554–56
Oil on canvas
113 x 99 cm
Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Inv. 1930.116 (405)
Photo © Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Photo Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Museo Correr

depictions of events at Saint Mark’s Basilica and the church of San Zanipolo, such as

Canaletto’s Interior of San Marco, Venice:

Giovanni Antonio Canal,
called Canaletto (1697–1768)
Interior of San Marco, Venice
About 1760
Oil on canvas
44.1 x 31.5 cm
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Adaline Van Horne Bequest
Inv. 1945.871
Photo MMFA, Brian Merrett

and Guardi’s The Papal Visit of Pius VI in the Church of S. Zanipolo, (Similar):

Pope Pius VI Blessing the People on Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo

illustrating the role of the arts as interface between religion and politics.

Other objects include illuminated choir books, manuscripts and period instruments never before exhibited in North America, as well as costume pieces, including a corno ducale, the bonnet-like crown worn by doges on official occasions.

Scuole and ospedali

Venice was home to a network of scuole, rich, powerful brotherhoods that were sponsors and patrons of artists and musicians. Even more remarkable were the ospedali, establishments for the poor and orphans, renowned for their musical ensembles. Well known musicians like Vivaldi composed for these ensembles, enhancing their prestige. This section includes

Tiepolo’s The Coronation of the Virgin:

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
The Coronation of the Virgin
About 1754
Oil on canvas
102.6 x 77.3 cm
Fort Worth, Texas,
Kimbell Art Museum
Inv. AP 1984.10

a rare oil sketch the artist used as a model for a ceiling fresco in the newly constructed church of the Pietà, Santa Maria della Visitazione, famed for its all-girl choir. Also on view:

Gabriel Bella’s concert scene Orphan Girls Singing for the Dukes of the North:

the first edition of The Four Seasons by Vivaldi, who taught violin at the Ospedale della Pietà, and

Canaletto’s wonderful Feast Day of San Roch, a special loan from the National Gallery in London:

Giovanni Antonio Canal,
called Canaletto (1697–1768)
Venice: The Feast Day of Saint Roch
About 1735
Oil on canvas
147.7 x 199.4 cm
London, National Gallery
Inv. NG937
Photo © National Gallery, London / Art Resource, NY

Art and Music in the Private Realm

In the private domain, music was the art of the courtier and the educated class. Nobles were often portrayed playing the lute or composing, and thus identified with the values associated with music: philosophical speculation, scientific inquiry, intellectual and spiritual elevation. Contrary to the lowly pipes played by shepherds in pastoral or allegorical scenes, the instruments of the elite symbolized culture and were frequently ornamented with precious materials, as seen in the exhibited lutes, theorbos and harpsichords.


Venetian portraiture often explored the musician as subject. Depicted alone or in groups, in allegorical, mythological or genre scenes, the figures appear in attire and with attributes that literally and figuratively reflect their dedication to music.

Titian’s great painting The Concert, on loan from the Palatine Gallery in Florence:

Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian (about 1488–1576)
The Concert (The Interrupted Concert)
About 1511–12
Oil on canvas
86.5 x 123.5 cm
Florence, Palazzo Pitti, Galleria Palatina
Inv. 1912 185
Photo Scala / Art Resource, NY

will feature prominently in this section. It is of particular interest as a masterpiece of Titian’s early maturity and for its art historical significance, which links the artist to his master, Giorgione.

Works like The Lute Player by Cariani, a disciple of Giorgione:

Giovanni Busi, called Cariani
(about 1485–after 1547)
The Lute Player
About 1515
Oil on canvas
71 x 65 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg
Inv. 236
Photo Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg, photo M. Bertola

Self-portrait with a Madrigal of Marietta Robusti (La Tintoretta, the daughter of Tintoretto):

Marietta Comin (Robusti), called la Tintoretta
Self-portrait with a Madrigal
About 1580
Oil on canvas
93.5 x 91.5 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi
Inv. 1890, 1898
Photo Scala/Art Resource, NY

Annibale Carracci’s Portrait of Claudio Merulo:

and many other masterworks will illustrate the wide variety of styles and treatments.


Music evolved on several fronts during the golden age of the Venetian Republic. Private concerts expanded to multiple instruments, and full orchestras were established to perform elaborate compositions. Venice was home to Europe’s leading music publishers, who thrived selling books of frottole (popular secular songs), lute tablatures and concerto scores for harpsichord, violin and other instruments. Songbooks like Ottaviano dei Petrucci’s extremely rare volume Odhecaton A (1501), the first musical score with movable type ever published and one of the greatest monuments in the history of publishing, promoted the practice of music and helped foster enlightened audiences. Venetian painters were distinguished by their passion for music, as seen in

Longhi’s Il Concertino:

Pietro Longhi (1701–1785)
The Concert
Oil on canvas
60 x 49 cm
Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia
Inv. 466
Photo Cameraphoto Arte, Venice / Art Resource, NY

and other works in this section.

The love of all things musical is also evident in

A Still Life with Musical Instruments in an Interior by Evaristo Baschenis:

who is credited with inventing a new still_life genre featuring musical instruments (often Venetian_made) in pleasing arrangements.

Street Scenes

Music was not confined to the official, cultivated establishment. Lively popular songs were circulated by gondoliers and street performers, as captured in works like

Giacomo Franco’s Music on the Grand Canal

and Giovanni Battista Piazzetta’s The Singer:

Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1683–1754)
The Singer
About 1730
Oil on canvas
82.5 x 68.5 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Inv. 73.2.1
Photo Frédéric Jaulmes © Musée Fabre de Montpellier Agglomération

Manuscript songbooks for gondolas document the way various cultural communities influenced the repertoire. Music was also associated with carnevale, which transformed Venice into pure theatre in the Western imagination. The festive carnival spirit reigns in

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo’s Minuet:

Giandomenico Tiepolo
The Minuet
Oil on canvas
80.7 x 109.3 cm
Barcelona, Museu Nacional
d’Art de Catalunya
Francesc Cambó Bequest, 1949
Inv. MNAC 064989
Photo Calveras / Mérida / Sagristà

Strozzi’s Street Musicians:

and other open-air scenes.

Art, Music and Mythology

The world’s first public opera house, the Teatro Nuovo di San Cassian, presented its first opera production in Venice in 1637, and by the eighteenth century, the city boasted no fewer than nine such venues. Opera composers, from Monteverdi to Handel and Vivaldi focussed their hopes on seeing their works produced and published in Venice. Opera became a staple of social activity, and its production, a driving force in the Venetian Republic’s economy, provided jobs for set builders, costumers, stagehands, performers and countless others. At the same time, the classical mythology that inspired the creation of many librettos emerged in music-related painting.


Italian Renaissance painting conveys a classical heritage marked by allegory, myths and symbols. Apollo, Venus and other deities are frequently pictured, and scenes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses inspired Titian throughout his career. But in Venice, there was the added factor of music. Music features in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, one of the greatest publications of the Renaissance, created in Venice in 1499 by the publisher, editor and printer Aldus Manutius.

Tintoretto’s monumental ceiling painting for Pietro Aretino, The Contest between Apollo and Marsyas:

Jacopo Comin (Robusti),
called Tintoretto (1518–1594)
The Contest between Apollo and Marsyas
About 1545
Oil on canvas
139.7 x 240 cm
Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum
of Art, The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund
Photo Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY

is a superb example of the practice of combining themes associated with music.

The Concert of the Muses and other Goddesses, created as a painted harpsichord cover by Tintoretto,

as well as Sebastiano Ricci’s Vénus entourée de nymphes contemplant une ronde de cupidons, created for the same purpose:

will be presented.

Other works by Tintoretto, Tiziano Aspetti and

two wonderful Tiepolo paintings depicting the parting of Rinaldo and Armida:

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696–1770)
Rinaldo Abandons Armida
About 1753
Oil on canvas
39.6 x 61.9 cm
Berlin, Gemäldegalerie der Staatliche Museen,
Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Inv. 2000.1
Photo Jörg P. Anders

inspired by the poem Gerusalemme Liberata of Tasso, a popular opera subject of the period and borrowed from the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin and the Uffizi in Florence, will be featured in this section.


Under the guise of allegorical and mythological figures, opera explored and reflected contemporary themes and issues. The number of public theatres grew rapidly as audiences embraced the new form of entertainment designed for eyes and ears alike. This enthusiasm will be illustrated by paintings, prints, drawings and sketches of well known singers and composers. A lovely pastel portrait of the great soprano Faustina Bordoni, as well as a delightful group of caricatures of Farinelli, Caffariello, Antonio Campioni and other famous opera singers by the Venetian artist, critic, printmaker and collector Antonio Maria Zanetti the Elder, will add a special touch to the exhibition. These drawings, never before exhibited in North America, offer a humorous and less formal view of the opera world.

Splendore a Venezia: An Extraordinary Musical Experience

For the exhibition Splendore a Venezia, the MMFA has produced a musical audioguide that is being made available to the public free of charge. This audioguide features one or more pieces of music in connection with a particular work of art or instrument. It goes without saying that a musical soundscape in the galleries, along the lines of those seen in MMFA exhibitions like Warhol Live (2008), Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko (2009) and We Want Miles: Miles Davis vs. Jazz (2010), will complete this extraordinary musical experience.

A scientific book

To accompany this exhibition, the MMFA’s Publishing Department is publishing a full-colour exhibition catalogue, in English and French editions. The catalogue features essays by leading international experts in Venetian art, culture and music, under the general editorship of Dr. Hilliard T. Goldfarb: Tiziana Bottecchia, Dawson Carr, Francesca del Torre, Joël Dugot, Iain Fenlon, Caroline Giron, Jonathan Glixon, Sergio Guarino, Eugene Johnson, Piero Lucchi and Ellen Rosand. This publication serves as a reference work that makes an ongoing contribution to the body of knowledge on music and the visual arts in the private and public realms of the Venetian Republic. It is distributed by Hazan (French edition) and Yale University Press (English edition).

A Venetian layout designed by Guillaume Lord, including a gondola from the Guy Laliberté Collection

The layout of this exhibition was conceived by Guillaume Lord, a designer and creator of sets and props for the theatre, who has been active in his profession for some fifteen years both in Quebec and abroad in the fields of theatre, dance, circus, variety shows and musical comedies.

In this exhibition, where music is an essential part of the circuit, he has re_created an environment evoking the visitors’ journey in both time and space as they discover the legendary sights of Venice. Along the way they meet “Donatella” from the Guy Laliberté Collection and loaned for the occasion, traditional Venetian gondola crafted in the late-20th century by Pietro Amadi, composed of various woods, stainless steel and brass. On one side can be read the following inscription: In barca vien con mi (Embark with me).

The gondola, whose origins are lost in Venetian antiquity, is the traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat that provides the ideal way to travel about the Venetian Lagoon. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it is estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 of these watercrafts filled the Lagoon. Originally, gondolas could be painted different colours, but after 1562 they were restricted to black. In Canaletto’s time, the prow was lower and there were usually two rowers. The modern profile was developed in the nineteenth century by a builder whose descendants still construct these vessels. The city prohibited any further modification in the last century. Gondolas are now composed of 280 pieces made from 8 different types of woods. The left side (24 cm longer than the right side) is curved more to balance against the forward stroke of the oar at right that turns the vessel left. By regulation, all gondolas are exactly 10.87 metres long, 1.42 metres wide and weigh 700 kilograms (1,500 pounds). They are all entirely handmade.

An incredibly diverse musical programming presented in connection with the Exhibition

The MMFA and the Arte Musica Foundation, in residence at the Museum, combine their expertise and resources to present about 140 concerts in the Bourgie Concert Hall each year, welcoming an average of 45,000 spectators. Isolde Lagacé says: “The exhibition presented by the MMFA is the ideal occasion to make a foray into the incredibly rich world of Venetian music. From October to January, the Arte Musica Foundation will present 20 concerts in Bourgie Hall covering five centuries of music, both instrumental and vocal, sacred, profane and traditional.” She adds: “Although the exhibition focusses on the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the time limits have been pushed back to include the nineteenth century – with a literary and musical performance – and the twentieth century – with a soirée to pay tribute to two sons of Venice, Luigi Nono and Bruno Maderna – and the twenty-first century – with the creation of a musical fairytale for children with giant marionettes, Le Chat et le gondolier.”

The concerts include majestic choral works by Monteverdi and Gabrieli performed by the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal; traditional songs for voice and lute with the Italian ensemble Accordone and the tenor Marco Beasley, who sang on the soundtrack of the film Tous les soleils; music for two organs; Italian arias and concertos performed by renowned Montreal ensembles and soloists; as well as two major works by Vivaldi; the Montreal premiere of the oratorio Juditha Triumphans with the Ensemble Caprice; and The Four Seasons with soloists and musicians from the OSM.

Credits and presentation of the exhibition

This exhibition has been developed, produced and circulated by Nathalie Bondil and its exhibition curator Hilliard T. Goldfarb. The Museum would like to thank the sixty_one lenders from Canada and abroad who contributed to this exhibition, which is presented under the high patronage of His Excellency Mr. Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic.

The layout of this exhibition was conceived by Guillaume Lord under the direction of Sandra Gagné, Head of Exhibitions Production at the MMFA. Music is an integral part of the exhibition thanks to a specially designed original soundscape developed in close co_operation with the Arte Musica Foundation and François Filiatrault. Isolde Lagacé, also developed a special programme of lectures and concerts in connection with the exhibition for Bourgie Hall.

Also in the exhibition:

Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto
The Bucintoro Returning to the Molo on Ascension Day
Oil on canvas
58.3 x 101.8 cm
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Inv. DPG599
Photo By Permission of The Trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery

Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto
The Bucintoro at the Molo
on Ascension Day
About 1745
Oil on canvas
114.9 x 162.6 cm
Philadelphia Museum of Art, The William L. Elkins Collection, 1924
Inv. E1924-3-48
Photo The Philadelphia Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY

Antonio Codognato (active 2nd half of the 18th c.)
View of the Magnificent Scenery and Lighting of the Teatro San Samuele
Sheet: 36.7 x 51.6 cm
Venice, Fondazione Musei Civici, Museo Correr,
Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe
Inv. ST. Correr 1081
Photo Scala / Art Resource, NY

Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature Works from the Tate Collection

This autumn (5 October 2013 – 5 January 2014) Turner Contemporary presents its first historical exhibition since the blockbuster Turner and the Elements with a major showcase of works by JMW Turner, John Constable and their contemporaries. Bringing together 75 paintings from the Tate collection, the exhibition, organised by Compton Verney, explores the practice of oil sketching in the landscape in the fullest presentation of oil sketches from the Tate Collection to date. This approach to oil painting became increasingly fashionable during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These rarely shown works, radical for their time, demonstrate artists’ efforts to reflect direct experience of their environment, rather than a concern for careful composition.

The exhibition is organised around six principal landscape themes, reflecting interests and subjects common to artists of the period: sketching from nature; the city; the picturesque; the Thames, rivers and coasts; and rural nature. These themes are explored in the works of JMW Turner and John Constable as well as George Stubbs and John Sell Cotman, among others. Organised by Compton Verney in Warwickshire, the exhibition is curated by Michael Rosenthal, Emeritus Professor of Art History, University of Warwick, one of the world’s foremost experts on the art of this period, and Anne Lyles, a leading authority on the art of John Constable.

The exhibition gives an insight into the different approach each artist used for oil sketching, illustrating how different artists approached similar subjects – at a time when oil sketching en plein air was still comparatively unusual.

The result is an exhibition which introduces visitors to the practice and techniques of sketching, and the often surprising connections that can be drawn between the artists involved. These stimulating comparisons prompt questions about the importance of oil sketching in this period and how finished works were planned, evolved and executed. The oil paintings have been chosen by the curators to represent six principal landscape themes: sketching from nature, the closer view, water, shapes and silhouettes, the shapes of landscape, rural nature, looking heavenwards. These themes are explored through the works of Turner and Constable alongside artists such as George Stubbs, John Linnell, William Henry Hunt, John Sell Cotman, John Crome, Francis Danby, Thomas Jones, George Robert Lewis and Augustus Wall Callcott.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated book, produced by Tate Publishing.

After being shown at Compton Verney, 13 July 2013 to 22 September 2013, Turner and Constable will be toured to Turner Contemporary in Margate (October 2013 - January 2014) and the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle (January - May 2014).

Images from the Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature Exhibition:

JMW Turner, View of Richmond Hill and Bridge, exhibited 1808, Oil paint on canvas, support: 914 x 1219 mm, © Tate, London 2013

JMW Turner, Godalming from the South, 1805, Oil paint on mahogany veneer mounted onto cedar panel, support: 203 x 349 mm, © Tate, London 2013

John Crome, Moonrise on the Yare (?), c.1811-16, Oil paint on canvas, support: 711 x 1111 mm, © Tate, London 2013

John Constable, Malvern Hall, Warwickshire, 1809, Oil paint on canvas, 514 x 768 mm, © Tate, London 2013

JMW Turner, The Thames near Walton Bridges, 1805, Oil paint on mahogany veneer, support: 371 x 737 mm, © Tate, London 2013

John Sell Cotman, Seashore with Boats, c.1808, Oil paint on board, 283 x 410 mm, © Tate, London 2013

John Constable, Cloud Study, 1822, Oil paint on paper on board, support: 476 x 575 mm, © Tate, London 2013

Thomas Jones, Mount Vesuvius from Torre dell'Annunziata near Naples, 1783, Oil paint on paper on canvas, support: 381 x 552 mm, © Tate, London 2013

George Stubbs, Newmarket Heath, with a Rubbing-Down House, c.1765, Oil paint on canvas, support: 302 x 419 mm, © Tate, London 2013

William Henry Brooke, Lanherne Bay near the Nunnery, Cornwall, 1819, Watercolour on paper, support: 146 x 190 mm, © Tate, London 2013

John Constable, Dedham from near Gun Hill, Langham, c.1815, Oil paint on paper laid on canvas, 251 x 305 mm © Tate, London 2013

John Constable, The Sea near Brighton, 1826, Oil on paper laid on card, support: 175 x 238 mm, © Tate, London 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

John Marin: The Breakthrough Years – From Paris to The Armory Show

John Marin: The Breakthrough Years – From Paris to The Armory Show will be on view at Meredith Ward Fine Art from November 8, 2013 through January 11, 2014. The exhibition celebrates Marin’s participation in The International Exhibition of Modern Art, better known as The Armory Show, which marks its 100th anniversary this year. The 28 watercolors in the show, all produced between 1904 and 1914, offer a front row seat on the first decade of Marin’s professional career, as he evolved from an accomplished mainstream artist to a leading member of the American avant-garde. Coincidentally, this year is also the 60th anniversary of Marin’s death in 1953, by which time he had become one of the most successful and well-known artists in America. “It’s difficult for us to imagine how radical these works appeared to audiences back then,” said Meredith Ward, President of the Gallery. “Marin was experimenting with new ideas, working his way out from under the shadow of Whistler, and ultimately found an entirely new way of painting.”

John Marin (1870-1953)
Lower Manhattan, 1914
Watercolor on paper
15 1/2 x 18 5/8 inches
Signed and dated at lower right: Marin-14

Marin arrived in Paris in 1905 at a unique and transitional moment, when works by Cézanne and Matisse were uprooting familiar aesthetics; his paintings of the period show how he responded. His Tyrol watercolors, for example, display vitality, energy, and brightness, and push the limits of form and abstraction to new levels. Marin exhibited three of his Tyrol watercolors in the 1913 Armory Show of which one,

John Marin (1870-1953)
Mountain, The Tyrol, 1910
Watercolor on paper
15 1/2 x 18 5/8 inches
Signed and dated at lower right: Marin / 10

is included in the present exhibition. Other breakthroughs came later, when the full impact of his European experience became apparent. Watercolors done in the Berkshires, the Adirondacks, Castorland, New York, and New York City show his complete mastery of the medium, and that he had internalized modernist ideas and made them his own. With these works, we see Marin’s signature style emerging – an entirely new and distinct visual language that was perfectly suited to his native landscape. For Marin, the years from 1904 to 1914 were filled with struggle and breakthroughs – breakthroughs that ultimately produced some of the most iconic works of 20th century American art.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue with an essay by Meredith Ward.

About Meredith Ward Fine Art:

Meredith Ward Fine Art opened in 2004 specializing in American art from the 19th century to the present. The gallery is the exclusive representative of the estate of John Marin. Meredith Ward Fine Art is located at 44 East 74h Street in New York City and is open to the public Monday through Friday, 10am to 5:30pm and Saturday noon to 5pm.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky, Malevich - Pioneers of Modern Art from the Hermitage

Outstanding works by Matisse, Picasso, Van Dongen, De Vlaminck, Derain and many other contemporaries of theirs were seen in a magnificent display from 6 March 2010 to 17 September 2010 at the Hermitage Amsterdam in the exhibition Matisse to Malevich. Pioneers of modern art from the Hermitage. For this exhibition about 75 paintings have been selected from the Hermitage St.- Petersburg, which has one of the world’s finest collections of French painting of the early twentieth century. Apart from the world-famous French masters, such equally celebrated Russian contemporaries as Malevich and Kandinsky will be represented. These artists are seen as the pioneers of Modernism. Almost all the works exhibited are on permanent display in St.- Petersburg. Most come originally from the Moscow collections of Morozov and Shchukin. This is the first time that this extensive collection of avant-garde masterpieces has been seen in the Netherlands. The exhibition explores the origins of modern art as an art historical phenomenon, but also looks at the passion of the artists, when at a crucial moment in art history at the beginning of the last century they initiated a revolution in art.

Morozov and Shchukin

The Hermitage’s impressive collection originated with the famous Russian collectors Ivan Morozov (1871-1921) and Sergej Shchukin (1854-1936). Both were textile dealers, and they brought French art to Russia because they wanted to change the course of art in their homeland. They provided a tremendous stimulus. Shchukin was the most conspicuous collector of his time; no one else bought so many works by Picasso (51) and Matisse (37). Morozov and Shchukin dared to buy the revolutionary paintings – sometimes with the paint still wet – and during the turn of the century they dominated the art world in Moscow. What they bought was shown at regular intervals in their own house. This enabled the young Russian artists to see what was in vogue in France. With the outbreak of the First World War collecting came to an end. During the October Revolution of 1917 the two collections were confiscated, and in 1948 a large part of them was given to the Hermitage in St.- Petersburg.

A documentary presentation in one of the rooms of the Hermitage Amsterdam gave the visitor a picture of the lives of both collectors and an insight into their idiosyncratic and progressive collecting policy.

Artists like Matisse, Picasso, Derain, De Vlaminck and Van Dongen were searching for renewal, for liberation from nature and from the academic traditions in painting. They formed the first important avant-garde movement of the twentieth century, which arose in French painting around 1900 in reaction to Impressionism and Pointillism. Bright and contrasting colours, rough brushwork, simplified forms and bold distortions characterised the new art. Light and shadow were depicted without intermediate shades and without soft transitions. In traditional painting the artists still wanted to represent three-dimensional space. For the pioneers that was no longer important; that was what photography was for. Through their work they provoked emotional reactions. Matisse, the most gifted and influential of them, was the focus of a group of artists known as the Fauvists or ‘wild animals’. No less than 12 paintings and 4 sculptures by him were in the exhibition (including

The red room,

and Jeu-de-boules, ).

Picasso was represented by 12 paintings (including

The absinthe drinker,

and Table in a café.

Throughout his long and productive life he constantly experimented with new techniques, and from 1907 he laid the basis for Cubism: this new style developed from a harder and tighter manner of expression and the use of thick layers of paint.

Kandinsky (Winter landscape)

met Picasso and Matisse in Paris and was deeply impressed by the colour effect in their work, but was also influenced by music (Schönberg). He wanted to represent his own feelings and expression yet more, he heard the colours of the music and his colours evoked music.

Malevich went a step further, he had had experience of everything new in the twentieth century and finally brought everything – nature, life, ‘being’ – down to a geometrical plane.

(Black square).

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Masterworks of American Modernism are the cornerstones for the stellar line-up of paintings and sculpture to be offered at Christie’s sale of American Art on December 5 in New York. Early confirmed highlights of the sale include Edward Hopper’s masterpiece East Wind Over Weehawken, Charles Demuth’s In the Key of Blue, Oscar Bluemner’s Surprise (May Moon), and Milton Avery’s Mandolin with Pears.

EDWARD HOPPER | East Wind Over Weehawken
Estimate: $22,000,000-28,000,000

As the star lot of the sale, Christie’s will offer East Wind Over Weehawken by Edward Hopper (1882-1967), a 1934 streetscape of a New Jersey suburb. The work was created shortly after Hopper’s fall 1933 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, at a pivotal moment in the artist’s career. With his studio based in New York City, Hopper would occasionally travel across the Hudson River to New Jersey in search of subject matter. He carried out eight preparatory sketches of the sleepy suburb of New York, along with extensive notes about color in the area, which all contributed to the finished streetscape. The perspective is as if one is looking through a car window, having come to an intersection in the residential neighborhood. The work, which sought to capture the realities of Depression-era America, is permeated by a sense of melancholy and loneliness, underscored by the gray sky and brooding colors of the buildings. This, combined with the sense of suspended narrative, is what differentiated Hopper from his Ashcan School contemporaries.

This painting hails from the prestigious collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and has not been on the market since having been acquired by PAFA in 1952. Since its creation, the painting has been exhibited at such renowned institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, São Paulo’s Museum of Modern Art, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid and the Grand Palais in Paris. As announced by PAFA, proceeds from the sale of East Wind Over Weehawken will be used to support the creation of a new endowment for the purchase of artworks to expand the renowned collection of the museum and school.

CHARLES DEMUTH | In the Key of Blue
Estimate: $1,800,000-2,400,000

Painted circa 1919-1920, In the Key of Blue was part of a new series of paintings that Charles Demuth had executed in tempera, all of which were much larger in scale than his previous watercolors. In the Key of Blue is a tour-de-force that demonstrates Charles Demuth at the height of his abilities. Here Demuth depicts buildings in a landscape set against planes of subtly modulated color in a composition that is simultaneously refined and dynamic. Most likely influenced by John Addington Symons’ 1893 essay on aesthetics, it is a dynamic Precisionist composition and meditation on light, form and color. Demuth juxtaposes the strong outlines of the planar forms with the softness of the tempera medium to create depth and suggest the effects of light on the scene. The influence of Cezanne is evident in the areas of exposed board, which Demuth has deliberately left bare and incorporated into the composition to add further texture and complexity. Executed circa 1920, In the Key of Blue is an important and rare tempera that is a direct precursor of masterworks such as My Egypt (1927, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York).

OSCAR BLUEMNER | Surprise (May Moon)
Estimate: $400,000-600,000

Surprise (May Moon) was executed by Oscar Bluemner in 1927, a key moment in the artist’s career, as he was experiencing an important shift in his style. Following the passing of his wife the previous year, Bluemner moved his family from Elizabeth, New Jersey, to South Braintree, Massachusetts. His artworks reflected this emotionally turbulent time and he focused on motifs of suns and moons, seeing them as symbols of God or a universal creator. Surprise (May Moon) is one of a series of eighteen extraordinary works known as Oscar Bluemner’s Sun and Moon series that offer a life affirming depiction of nature and its spiritual force. Here Bluemner masterfully utilizes color to shape and stimulate mood and to convey a range of powerful emotions in a single image. These important watercolors were the successors to Georgia O’Keeffe’s Evening Star series and a precursor to Arthur Dove’s exploration of similar iconography in the 1930s.

MILTON AVERY | Mandolin with Pears
Estimate: $600,000-800,000

An important figure in the American Modernist movement, Avery was largely self-taught and experimented with color planes and patterns, bridging the gap between Matisse’s vivaciously outlined canvases and the American color field artists of the 1950s. Mandolin with Pears was executed in 1945, after Avery had aligned himself with gallerist Paul Rosenberg. Rosenberg had encouraged Avery to replace his painterly techniques with denser areas of flat colors and delineated forms, resulting in visually striking abstract works, such as the present example. Mandolin with Pears exemplifies Avery’s unique ability to simplify a scene to its broadest possible forms while retaining tension and balance through color and shape.

Paul Klee: Making Visible

Paul Klee (1879-1940) was one of the most renowned artists to work at the Bauhaus and was both a playful and a radical figure in European Modernism. His intense and intricate work is the subject of a major new exhibition at Tate Modern from 16 October 2013, the UK’s first large-scale Klee exhibition for over a decade. Challenging his reputation as a solitary dreamer, it reveals the innovation and rigour with which he created his work and presented it to the public.

Bringing together over 130 colourful drawings, watercolours and paintings from collections around the world, Paul Klee: Making Visible spans the three decades of his career: from his emergence in Munich in the 1910s, through his years of teaching at the Bauhaus in the 1920s, up to his final paintings made in Bern after the outbreak of the Second World War. The show reunites important groups of work which the artist created, catalogued or exhibited together at these key moments in his life. Having since been dispersed across museums and private collections, Tate Modern is showing these delicate works alongside each other once again, often for the first time since Klee did so himself, in a unique chance to explore his innovations and ideas.

Born in Switzerland in 1879, Klee started out as a musician like his parents but soon resolved to study painting in Munich, where he eventually joined Kandinsky’s ‘Blue Rider’ group of avant-garde artists in 1912. Tate Modern’s exhibition begins with his breakthrough during the First World War, when he first developed his individual abstract patchworks of colour.

The many technical innovations that followed are showcased throughout the exhibition, including his unique ‘oil transfer’ paintings like

They’re Biting 1920,

the dynamic colour gradations of

Suspended Fruit 1921

and the multicoloured pointillism used in

Memory of a Bird 1932.

The heart of the exhibition focuses on the decade Klee spent teaching and working at the Bauhaus. The abstract canvases he produced here, such as the rhythmical composition

Fire in the Evening 1929,

took his reputation to new international heights by the end of the 1920s. The 1930s then brought about radical changes, as Klee was dismissed from his new teaching position by the Nazis and took refuge in Switzerland with his family, while his works were removed from collections and labelled ‘degenerate art’ in Germany. Despite the political turmoil, financial insecurity and his declining health, he nevertheless became even more prolific. Tate Modern brings together a group of his final works from the last exhibition staged before his death in 1940.

Although he saw his art as a process of spontaneous creativity and natural growth, exemplified by his famous description of drawing as “taking a line for a walk”, Klee actually worked with great rigour. He inscribed numbers on his works in accordance with a personal cataloguing system and wrote volumes on colour theory and detailed lecture notes. In grouping these works as Klee himself did, this exhibition presents an extraordinary opportunity to explore them in a new light and understand them as the artist intended.

Paul Klee: Making Visible is curated by Matthew Gale, Head of Displays, Tate Modern, with Flavia Frigeri, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue from Tate Publishing and a programme of talks and events in the gallery.

Nice reviews here
and here.

More images from the exhibition:

Paul Klee 1879–1940
Steps 1929
Oil and ink on canvas
520 x 430 mm
Moderna Museet (Stockholm, Sweden)

Paul Klee 1879–1940
Redgreen and Violet-Yellow Rhythms 1920
Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1984 (1984.315.19)
Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Source: Art Resource/Scala Photo Archives

Paul Klee 1879–1940
Static-Dynamic Intensification 1923
Watercolour and transferred printing ink on laid paper with gray and green gouache and black ink mounted on light cardboard
381 x 261 mm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Paul Klee 1879–1940
Park near Lu 1938
Zentrum Paul Klee

Paul Klee 1879–1940
Fire at Full Moon 1933
Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany

Paul Klee 1879–1940
Comedy 1921
Watercolour and oil on paper
support: 305 x 454 mm
on paper, unique
Tate. Purchased 1946

Paul Klee 1879–1940 '
Fish Magic' (1925)
Philadelphia Museum of Art/ The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection