Friday, November 30, 2018


Alte Pinakothek

With some 120 masterpieces, the show presents the groundbreaking artistic innovations at the birthplace of the Renaissance. A comprehensive selection of exquisite panel paintings, sculptures and drawings transports visitors back to the time of the Medici and traces the development of the art in the modern age, from its beginnings with Giotto’s work to Leonardo da Vinci’s creations.

Image result

Filippino Lippi
Bildnis eines jungen Mannes, um 1485
© Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington,
Andrew W. Mellon Collection

The focus of the presentation is on the artists’ world of ideas and working methods. With new self-confidence they plumbed the depths of the real world in quest of the laws of harmony and beauty, they made drawings from nature and studied the works of Antiquity. The painters ambitiously explored the subjects, forms and techniques of their work and, as a result, achieved a variety of artistic forms of expression that had never been reached before, not only in the secular pictorial narratives and portraits but also in the images of private and ecclesiastical devotion.

Madonna of the Carnation (c. 1475), Leonardo da Vinci. Alte Pinakothek.

Madonna of the Carnation (c. 1475), Leonardo da Vinci. Alte Pinakothek. Image: © Bayerischen Staats-gemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek, Munich

The exhibition provides a detailed insight into the work methods of Florentine painters and explains the close relationship between technical and stylistical change

Adoration of the Child (c. 1495), Fra Bartolommeo.
Adoration of the Child (c. 1495), Fra Bartolommeo. Alte Pinakothek, Munich Image: © Bayerischen Staats-gemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek, Munich

  The Annunciation (c. 1443/45), Fra Filippo Lippi. Alte Pinakothek.

The Annunciation (c. 1443/45), Fra Filippo Lippi. Alte Pinakothek. Image: © Bayerischen Staats-gemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek, Munich


The arts in fifteenth-century Florence made numerous pioneering advances. Artists like Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Sandro Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci brought innovation to the themes, forms, and techniques of painting, opening up a new world of artistic expression. These painters searched for the laws of harmony and beauty with new self-confidence, devoting themselves to the study of antiquity and the practice of sketching from nature. Driven by drawing and in competition with sculpture, they discovered utterly novel modes of representation through portraits, profane visual narratives, and poignant portrayals of church devotion.

            Drawing on prominent examples of painting, sculpture, and drawing, this lavishly illustrated volume presents the Alte Pinakothek’s sparkling collection of Florentine art together with more than seventy-five works loaned from museums all over the world, offering multifaceted insights into the intellectual world and working methods of Florentine artists during the Italian Renaissance.

Hopper to Pollock: American Modernism from the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute

Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Wniston-Salem, NC
Feb. 15 - May 13
Edward Hopper, The Camel's Hump, 1931, oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 50 1/4 in., Edward W.  Root Bequest, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art, Utica, NY, 57.160.  Photographer: John Bigelow Taylor and Diane Dubler
Edward Hopper, The Camel's Hump, 1931, oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 50 1/4 in., Edward W. Root Bequest, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art, Utica, NY, 57.160. Photographer: John Bigelow Taylor and Diane Dubler

Image result

 Arthur Dove, Tree Composition, 1937, wax emulsion on linen, 15 1/4 x 21 in., Edward W. Root Bequest, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art, Utica, NY, 57.136. Photographer: John Bigelow Taylor and Diane Dubler
“Hopper to Pollock” showcases paintings and drawings by 32 celebrated American artists including Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. These artists, and others, were responding to the 20th century’s volatile, exciting growth and scientific progress, as well as the devastating horrors of economic depressions, political uprisings, world wars and holocausts.
“The works of art in the exhibition are both wide-ranging and iconic,” says Reynolda Curator Allison Slaby. “Visitors will immediately recognize the drip-painting style of Pollock and the color-field painting of Rothko, but may be surprised by an Edward Hopper landscape, an artist who is better known for his images of urban spaces.”

The exhibition was formed from works of art once in the private collection of Edward Wales Root (1884-1956), son of Secretary of State Elihu Root and a pioneering collector of modern American art. In 1953, the Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed more than 100 works from Root’s holdings; it was the first private collection of contemporary art ever exhibited there.

The Met’s curator at the time said “for the successful creation of a collection of contemporary art the stars must be most auspicious.” Four years later, Root bequeathed a majority of his collection to the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, N.Y., near his home in central New York.

The role of collector and the art of collecting will be fundamental to the unique installation of “Hopper to Pollock” at Reynolda. An earlier version of the exhibition has been on view at other museums, but this will be the first installation to include additional works from another private collection. Reynolda House curators are including a selection of American modernism from the private collection of Reynolda’s founder and the visionary behind the museum’s collection, Barbara Babcock Millhouse.

“Root and Millhouse are counterparts in their collecting approach,” says Phil Archer, the Betsy Main Babcock Deputy Director at Reynolda House. “They were selecting work by artists who only later became leading figures in the field. We wanted to fully explore the story of a collector’s vision, and create a space where our visitors can think about their own reasons for collecting objects, whatever they may be.”

The Hopper canvas purchased by Root, “The Camel’s Hump,” will hang for the first time in the company of a more typical Hopper in Millhouse’s collection,

 Image result

“House at Eastham,” painted the following year. Archer says interest in Edward Hopper is at an all-time high and hosting this exhibition in North Carolina came at just the right time.

“An Edward Hopper painting just sold at auction for more than double his previous record price,” he says. “Clearly his perspective on the American scene continues to resonate with collectors and museum-goers.”

The exhibition will be presented in four sections: Infinite Spaces: Modern American Landscape Painting; Painting the American Century: Still Life and Figure Studies; Liberation from the Physical World: Abstract Expressionism; and A Different Eye: Barbara Babcock Millhouse and the Practice of Collecting Modernism.

Other artists represented in “Hopper to Pollock” include Charles Burchfield, Arthur Davies, Arthur Dove, Arshile Gorky, George Luks, Reginald Marsh, Maurice Prendergast and Theodoros Stamos.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Renaissance Splendor: Catherine de’ Medici’s Valois Tapestries

Cleveland Museum of Art
November 18, 2018, to January 21, 2019

 This unique set of eight hangings was almost certainly commissioned in the 1570s by Catherine de’ Medici, the indomitable queen mother of France, to celebrate the future of the Valois dynasty as continuing rulers of France. Juxtaposing the hangings with paintings, drawings and exquisite art objects of the period, the exhibition explores the tapestries’ role as an artistic and political statement involving two of the most powerful European dynasties of the Renaissance—the Valois and the Medici—and their respective power bases in Paris and Florence.

Valois tapestry depicting the ball held in 1573 at the Tuileries in honour of Polish envoys. Catherine de' Medici is seated in the centre, wearing her habitual widow's black.

The CMA has partnered with the Gallerie degli Uffizi in Florence and the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Cultural Activities to organize this exhibition, which reveals for the first time the completed conservation of these unique hangings.

 Elephant, from the Valois Tapestries, c. 1576. Woven under the direction of Master MGP, Brussels. Wool, silk, silver and gilded silver metal-wrapped thread; 382.5 x 468 cm. Gallerie degli Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti, deposit, Florence, Arazzi n. 474. Photo: Roberto Palermo.

Fontainebleau, from the Valois Tapestries, c. 1576. Woven under the direction of Master WF, Brussels. Wool, silk, silver and gilded silver metal-wrapped thread; 395.5 x 338 cm. Gallerie degli Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti, deposit, Florence, Arazzi n. 473. Photo: Roberto Palermo

This tapestry depicts festivities at the meeting of the Valois and Habsburg courts at Bayonne in 1565; the harpooned whale spouted red wine.

Mary Cassatt: Modernizing the Mother and Child Trope

 Image result

Baby Lying on his Mother’s Lap by Mary Cassatt. Circa 1914.
M.S. Rau Antiques (New Orleans)

In a nondescript room, a young mother cradles her infant son in her arms. Smiling, he attempts to grasp the vibrant orange scarf that she dangles in front of him.

The intimate tableau reflects Mary Cassatt’s vision of modern motherhood and domesticity. Painted in pastel, the work was completed in 1914, which was the year that she retired from painting due to her failing eyesight. Thus, it represents the complete culmination of this famed painters’ oeuvre, particularly her dedication to the theme of mother and child.

While the trope of the mother and child is an old one in the history of art, Cassatt’s treatment of the subject and her artistic ideologies were avant-garde. Cassatt herself was at the time considered radical – though she was not the only woman to exhibit with the Impressionists, she was the only American to be officially welcomed into the group. Together, her Americanness and her sex made her an anomaly on the French art scene.

Because she was a woman, she was unable to easily move in the male-dominated spheres that are more commonly seen in Impressionist works – the horse races, dance halls, cafés and brothels were completely inaccessible to the bourgeois Cassatt. Yet, she knew the world of women far better than her male counterparts, and her images of domesticity have come to pay tribute to the modern feminine experience.

The theme of the mother and child emerges from the tender images of the Madonna and Child, a popular subject in Christian art that rose to prominence during the Renaissance. Not only was the Virgin Mary depicted as the mother of Jesus, but she also was a divine entity in her own right. In many ways, these early depictions of the Madonna as both sentimental and saintly came to inform the way in which painters would depict women, and specifically mothers, in art for centuries.

Unlike the Pieta-style renderings of the mother as a divine domestic figure, Cassatt introduced a new image of the modern woman into the realm of art history in the 1880s and 90s. Though firmly in the domestic realm, her subjects were not the divine untouchable woman with her well-behaved baby. Instead, she captures women who are educated and thoughtful, with babies that are playful, chubby and squirming. She excels at depicting the complex relationship between the mother and her child, all while avoiding the sentimentality that was so common in earlier works on the subject.

This work in pastel, entitled Baby Lying on his Mother’s Lap, Reaching to Hold a Scarf, exemplifies her innovations on the theme. Absorbed in their private play, the tender bond between the two figures is keenly felt, as well as the artist’s emotional response to the intimate moment she has captured. Her palette – full of vibrant yellows – both adheres to the Impressionist tradition and enhances the joyous mood of the scene. Though she was never married and never became a mother, she is one of the very few painters to have so accurately interpreted the nuances of maternity on canvas.

About M.S. Rau Antiques:
M.S. Rau Antiques has spent over 100 years earning the trust of discerning collectors worldwide.

Freeman’s American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists Sunday, December 9,

Freeman’s winter American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists auction features works of art by distinguished American artists including Martin Lewis (1881-1962), Milton Avery (1885-1965), Joseph Stella (1877-1946) and William Glackens (1870-1938), as well as Pennsylvania Impressionists Fern Coppedge (1883-1951), Edward Redfield (1869-1965) and Daniel Garber (1880-1958). Anchored by two quintessential works by two generations of Wyeths (Newell Convers, 1882-1945, and Andrew, 1917-2009), the sale also includes several fine groupings of paintings, such as five snowscapes by Guy Carleton Wiggins (1883-1962), along with a selection of about 30 works of art from the Collection of Richard Mellon Scaife, the media magnate and noted philanthropist who predominately collected 19th century paintings including scenes Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) and Jasper F. Cropsey (1823-1900), Lots 17-42.

The characteristically dramatic scene by N.C. Wyeth, “Back and Forth Across It We Went…” (Lot 94, estimate $400,000-600,000), is one of the undoubted highlights of the sale (detail featured above).

The present lot brilliantly demonstrates N.C. Wyeth’s talent for narrative and composition. Fresh to market, and hailing from a private Collection in North Carolina, the painting is an illustration for Vingie E. Roe’s “The Virtue of Neils Hansen,” a short-story published in Colliers Weekly in May 1915. Though born in Massachusetts, Wyeth spent the majority of his life in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where he initially moved in 1902 to study at Howard Pyle’s School of Art. Considered one of the country’s greatest illustrators, Wyeth garnered acclaim for his work with the publishing company Charles Scribner’s Sons.

An impressive watercolor by Andrew Wyeth that descended through the Eisenhower family, will also be offered. Lot 98, “At Home,” (estimate: $100,000-150,000) depicts President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s summer home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was executed in the summer of 1959, and gifted to President Eisenhower while Wyeth was working on his portrait for the cover of Time Magazine’s September issue. Set in the vast garden of the President’s weekend retreat, the summer scene captures a tranquil moment under the shade of an ash tree on the 189-acre farm. Until 1969, the original watercolor hung in President Eisenhower’s office in Gettysburg.

The sale opens with several prints depicting New York City at the beginning of the 20th century. Of note are three examples by Martin Lewis (lots 1-3), whose oeuvre is almost entirely based on the city’s architecture, its inhabitants and their daily lives.


 Lot 1, “Yorkville Night,” (estimate: $20,000-30,000) is a wonderful example of the artist’s style.

Howard Cook (1901-1980) was equally fascinated by New York, and his work focuses on the city’s urban landscape, its jagged lines, blocky shapes, and the light and shadow interplay between façades, edifices, and streets. Lot 6, “Chrysler Building,” (estimate: $8,000-12,000) depicts the famous Art Deco-style building, completed just two years before the offered lot.

From a private Los Angeles Collection comes almost half a dozen works by Guy Carleton Wiggins, whose wintry New York scenes define his career. Lot 64, “City Hall Park” (estimate: $80,000-120,000) depicts New York’s City Hall and its surrounding streets and buildings in Wiggins’ quintessential fashion. A snowy winter’s afternoon creates a gray sky as trees, grass, and concrete become covered in the blizzard’s fall. Lots 65, “The Library in Winter” (estimate: $30,000-50,000) and 66, “At the Library New York” (estimate: $80,000-120,000) both depict the New York Public Library during a blizzard. The son of an accomplished landscape painter, Impressionist Wiggins studied first with his father, Carleton Wiggins, and later at the National Academy of Design under the tutelage of famed American painters Robert Henri and William Merritt Chase.

From the Collection of Richard Mellon Scaife, Lot 17, “Waverly Newton, Long Island,” (estimate: $50,000-80,000) by Jasper Francis Cropsey, captures a glowing sailboat on the water, while in the background of the composition is “Waverly,” the family home of a friend of the artist. Lot 21, “Autumn Landscape” by German-born Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), exhibits the artist’s attraction to the fall season and autumnal colors. Lot 29, “Siasconset Beach (Nantucket Island)” by George Inness (estimate: $20,000-30,000), is representative of the artist’s transitional phase, inspired by his contemporaries’ recent trip to Paris.

Additional highlights from the section of American works include Lot 46, “Isfahan Bazaar” by Edwin Lord Weeks (estimate: $30,000-50,000), which the executed during his first and only trip to Persia in the fall of 1892. Painted between 1901 and 1903, the present work is similar to Weeks’s other compositions, and features an above eye-level view of the city’s densely packed market. Lot 80, “Sunflower” by Joseph Stella (1877-1946), a gouache on paper (estimate: $25,000-40,000), truly marks Stella’s closest approach to Expressionism. Six works by Hobson Pittman come fresh to market from the Collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Dubbed the “poet-painter” for his delicate, pastel-hued landscapes, interior scenes, and atmospheric still-lifes, Pittman’s work is defined by its soft, romantic quality and dreamlike color palettes. The auction also features three paintings by Milton Avery, two of which are consigned by a Private Collector in Massachusetts, the other one coming from a Main Line Collection . Lot 87, “The Country Road,” (estimate: $50,000-80,000) is a very representative example of the type of landscapes for which Avery is so well admired. The colorful, semi-abstract composition exhibits bold yet nuanced hues of blues, blacks, pinks and greens.

The Pennsylvania Impressionists section of the sale, which brings the auction to a close, features seven paintings by Fern Coppedge, considered the most significant female artist of the Pennsylvania Impressionist school. Lot 119, “Creek Bridge Snow,” (estimate: $100,000-150,000) depicts on an impressively scaled canvas the Brook at Carversville, a site which the artist and others painted numerous times. The present lot captures the gentle turquoise flow of the Delaware River, which borders bright houses on the river’s banks; all are covered with blotches of deep yellow and shimmering reds. Lot 133, “Canal Lock at Lumberville,” (estimate: $50,000-80,000) again shows a river scene in winter, this time of the quaint New Jersey town situated just across the river from Carversville. Fern Coppedge is most well known for her bright, warm-hued wintry scenes, which were usually set in Bucks County, along the Delaware River. Like many other Impressionists of her time, she was committed to painting year round en plein-air, and frequently braved the elements in a bearskin coat to capture the subtle effects of changing light, a technique at which she particularly excelled.

“Early May – Stockton” by leading Pennsylvania Impressionist Daniel Garber (Lot 124, estimate: $70,000-100,000) shows a church spire rising above a verdant landscape. The present lot, housed in its original Harer frame, is the last representation of the Berean Baptist Church the artist produced, having painted four other views of it between 1931 and 1939. Garber appears to have been fundamentally attracted to the elegant architecture of the church, especially to its highly decorative multi-tiered steeple.

Three works by Edward Willis Redfield explore the artist’s evolving style, as well as the locales that were so formative to him over the course of his long career. Lot 125, “Winter Cedars,” (estimate: $25,000-40,000) is an early painting by the artist, when he was still experimenting with Tonalism. Lot 130, “Road to New Hope,” (estimate: $100,000-150,000) is a classic winter scene of a snowy path in the Bucks County town near Redfield’s own home. Lot 127, “Solitude,” (estimate: $60,000-100,000) which descended through the artist’s family to the present owner, captures the rocky surf at Monhegan Island, in Maine, where the artist and his wife spent many summers. Through lively and rigorous brushstrokes, Redfield infuses a sense of power to the scene, indicating his ongoing fascination with the elements.

Additional Pennsylvania Impressionists highlights include Lot 144, “The Delaware – Winter Morning” by Charles Rosen (estimate: $12,000-18,000), and four paintings by Laurence A. Campbell (b. 1939), notably Lot 150, “Ben Franklin Bridge,” (estimate: $20,000-30,000).

Oskar Kokoschka. The Printed Oeuvre in the Context of Its Time

Museum der Moderne Salzburg 
10 November 2018―17 February 2019

The prints of Oskar Kokoschka (Pöchlarn, AT, 1886―Montreux, CH, 1980) occupy a prominent position in his output. He first explored the technique while studying art in turn-of-the-century Vienna; over the years, and especially in the final decades of his long life, he built a sizable graphic oeuvre. The Museum der Moderne Salzburg possesses an exceptionally comprehensive collection of Kokoschka’s prints and has repeatedly mounted presentations of selections from this treasure since it was established. 

Oskar Kokoschka. The Printed Oeuvre in the Context of Its Time is the first major exhibition entirely focused on Kokoschka’s lithographs and etchings. 

Divided into eight chapters, it showcases ca. 210 pieces to trace an arc from his controversial early work across the portraits of his Dresden years to his late oeuvre, which speaks to his admiration for Greek art and culture, and embeds the various groups of works—all shown as complete sets—in their historical contexts. Kokoschka was an attentive observer of current affairs,and some of the works on display show him engaging critically with the political developments of his time. 

“The exhibition sheds light on the creative development and evolving views of an artist who was a keen-eyed witness to the history of the twentieth century. Rebelling against the art nouveau aesthetic that dominated in turn-of-the-century Vienna, Kokoschka devised an expressive visual idiom that reflects the apprehensiveness and inner turmoil of the period,” Barbara Herzog, curator of the show, explains.

The presentation opens with Kokoschka’s works for the Wiener Werkstätte, created while he was still a student at the Kunstgewerbeschule.

Many of the works in which he translated his stormy affair with Alma Mahler into art reflect the anxiety that men in turn-of-the-century Vienna felt in the face of the nascent women’s movement. After the separation from Alma, Kokoschka volunteered for military service. Shocked by what he witnessed and wounded in battle, he became a pacifist. 

When the National Socialists seized power and vilified his art as “degenerate,” he escaped to England. After the war, he did not return to Austria, choosing to settle in Switzerland instead. 

In lithographic cycles on themes from classical mythology, the late Kokoschka paid tribute to the legacy of antiquity, which, he believed, was a vital source of ethical as much as aesthetic guidance. Serving as artistic director of the Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts—the “school of seeing” that he and Friedrich Welz cofounded in 1953—for over a decade, he earned a place of honor in the annals of art in Salzburg.

Oskar Kokoschka Pietà, 1909 Poster for the Internationale Kunstschau Wien, Color lithograph, Museum der Moderne Salzburg 

Oskar Kokoschka Selbstbildnis (Sturmplakat), 1910 (Self-portrait [Poster for "Der Sturm"]) Color lithograph, Museum der Moderne 

Oskar Kokoschka The face of woman, 1913, From the series: Der gefesselte Kolumbus, (The Bound Columbus), publ. 1920/1921, 

Oskar Kokoschka Selbstbildnis von zwei Seiten, 1923 (Self-portrait from two sides), Colored chalk lithograph, Museum der Moderne  

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Max Weber: Becoming Modern

Gerald Peters Gallery is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition Max Weber: Becoming Modern. Spanning the years 1905-1930, the paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures that make up the exhibition will explore Weber's transformation from art student to arbiter of the avant-garde.


Two Sisters, ca. 1910, watercolor on paper, 12 1/2 x 8 inches

Weber arrived in Paris in 1905 and enrolled at the Academie Colarossi, pursuing a traditinoal, academic course of study. He left Paris four years later an avant-garde artist, an acolyte of Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, and Rousseau, determined to change the course of art in the United States. By 1930, Weber had become a superstar, with a retrospective that year at MOMA, the first that institution had devoted to an American artist. Weber's rise to stardom, however, was not marked by an easy line of successes, but rather by a trail of baffled critics, financial hardship, and a public whose tastes and perceptions were years behind Weber's evolved vision.

Max Weber, Decoration with Cloud, 1913, oil on canvas, 60 3/8 x 40 3/8 inches.

Between 1905 and 1930, Weber redefined modern art in America: he introduced modern European art but, more importantly, he established American art and artists as part of transatlantic modernism. Before the 1913 Armory Show, Weber was faced with an environment with only one established outlet for showcasing modern art (Stieglitz's 291) and a public that was still enthralled by Impressionism.

Weber persevered in filtering European modernism through an American lens. His works from these years gave visual expression to the "new" and exist, in the words of Lloyd Goodrich, as "the most advanced experimental panting...produced in America in these years." Max Weber: Becoming Modern will focus on these twenty-five years of struggle and experimentation during which Weber matured from student to master, guiding a reluctant public through a crash course on modern art and becoming a lodestone for American Modernism.

Max Weber, Italian Pitcher, 1921. Oil on canvas, 20 7/8 x 31 in.

The exhibition will open in New York on November 12th and continue through December 14th. It will open in Santa Fe on March 15th, 2019.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Christie’s The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale, 27 February 2019

Image result

René Magritte’s masterpiece Le Lieu Commun, 1964 (estimate: £15,000,000-25,000,000), one of the finest and largest examples of his iconic bowler-hatted men, will lead Christie’s The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale on 27 February 2019. Never before offered at auction, and poised to set a new world auction record for the artist, the work offers a unique vision of the wandering icon in that it offers a view of the figure both full-face and hidden behind a column in an ambiguous landscape of either impossible or multiple reality. The large scale (39 3/8 x 31 7/8 in. and 100 x 81 cm.) oil on canvas, signed ‘Magritte’ in the upper right corner, will be on view in New York from 4 to 11 November 2018 before touring to Hong Kong from 22 to 26 November 2018, Beijing 8 to 9 December 2018, Shanghai from 12 to 13 December 2018, Taipei from 15 to 16 January 2019, and LA from 31 January to 6 February 2019. The painting will be exhibited in London ahead of the auction from 22 to 27 February 2019.

Le Lieu Commun was formerly owned by Gustave Nellens, the great collector who commissioned the ‘Le Domaine Enchanté’ series of eight paintings by Magritte, and owned many great works by the artist, as well as the Fuji Museum in Tokyo. It is one of four paintings featuring the bowler-hatted man from 1964 that mark the culmination of this theme in Magritte’s work. The others are

 Magritte TheSonOfMan.jpg

Le Fils de L’Homme, made for Harry Torczyner and which previously set the world record for the artist when auctioned in 1999,

Image result

La Grande Guerre

Image result

and L’Homme au Chapeau Melon.

The three other paintings featured a simpler image of a single bowler-hatted man standing in front of a seascape and facing the viewer. In each of these works the face of the man has been obscured by an object: either an apple or a white dove. For the first time, Magritte makes use of a strip-like play with perspective and a forest view in a technique that anticipates one of the greatest paintings of his very last years –

Image result

 Le Blanc Seing of 1965, held in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington - in which the image of a horse and rider are ambiguously intertwined with the tree trunks of the surrounding forest.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Beckmann. Exile Figures - Expanded version

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza 
25 October 2018 to 27 January 2019 

CaixaForum’s exhibition space in Barcelona, 
21 February to 26 May 2019.

The Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza is presenting Beckmann. Exile figures, the first exhibition in Spain in twenty years to be devoted to the a rtist, one of the most important of the 20 th century.

While close to New Objectivity at the outset o f his career, Max Beckmann (Leipzig, 1884 – New York, 1950) created a unique and independent ty pe of painting, realist in style but filled with symbolic resonances, which came to constitut e a vigorous account of society of his day. Following its display at the Museo Thyssen, where i t is sponsored by the Comunidad de Madrid, it will travel to CaixaForum’s exhibition space in Barcelona, from 21 February to 26 May 2019.

Curated by Tomàs Llorens the exhibition will feature a total of 52 works, principally paintings but also sculptures and lithographs, loaned from museums and collections worldwide and including some of the artist’s most important creations, such as

The Boat (1926),

Image result

Paris Society, 1931. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York /

Society, Paris (1931),

 Self-Portrait with Horn , 1938. Neue Galerie, New York, and private collection /

Self- portrait with Horn (1938),

Image result

City. Night in the City (1950), Saint Louis Art Museum, Bequest of Morton D. May

Image result

and The Argonauts (1949-50), the triptych that Beckmann finished on the day he died at a relatively early age in New York.

The exhibition is structured into two sections. The first, smaller one is devoted to the artist’s time in Germany from the years prior to World War I when he began to achieve public recognition, to the rise of Nazism in 1933 when Beckmann was stripped of his post at the Frankfurt art school and was banned from exhibiting in public. Works displayed in this section have been chosen for their significance and importance within the artist’s oeuv e.

In the second, larger section, which spans the years in Amsterdam (1937-47) and the United States (1947-50) where he settled after he was obliged to leave Germany, the works have been selected using a thematic criterion: exile, both in its literal sense with regard to Beckmann’s own life, and figurative, in reference to the significance it had for the artist as the basic condition of human existence in general.

As a result, his allegorical paintings – to which he devoted most time and effort (all his triptychs and large-format canvases are allegorical compositions) – are the most extensively represented in the exhibition. The portraits, landscapes and still lifes, traditional genres in which Beckmann worked throughout his career, have also been chosen for their allegorical resonances.

This part of the exhibition is structured around four metaphors relating to exile:  

Masks , which focuses on the loss of identity associated with the circumstances of exile;

Electric Babylon , on the vertiginous modern city as the capital of exile;  

The long goodbye , which looks at the parallel between exile and death; and  

The Sea , a metaphor of the infinite, its seduction and alienation.

A German painter in a bewildering Germany 

The conviction that German art had its own character, different to that of France or Italy, was profoundly rooted in the artists of Beckmann’s generation whose sensibility was oriented towards the “emotion of life” rather than ideal beauty. This trait, repressed and inexplicit for centuries, started to re-emerge during the modern era in parallel to Germany’s new social and economic rise. With defeat in World War I, however, the new confidence and self-esteem disappeared and was replaced by an acute awareness of crisis while in the field of art naturalism was replaced by Expressionism. Beckmann’s early painting is eclectic in style.

In addition to Max Liebermann and Lovis Corinth, his work of this period recalls other German artists of the previous generation. The most important long-lasting influence, however, was that of Cézanne and Beckmann’s concern to combine the representation of volume s with the two-dimensional surface of the canvas would be one of his principal obsessions throughout his career.

Beckmann believed that there was no such things as a new painting based on new theoretical principles: for him, the different personalities of artists represented the only new element in art. His interest in allaying himself with the great tradition of European painting became the principal aim of his work during his initial period, leading him to challenge the avant-garde of the Expressionist painters of his day. His profound rejection of the collective, sectarian and doctrinal aspect of these mov ements provided the basis of his individualist position agai nst all the collective art trends that he encountered during the course of his life.

Painting: Max Beckmann, Abtransport der Sphinxe
Max Beckmann: Abtransport der Sphinxe, [Transporting the Sphinxes], 1945
Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe ⓒ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015

“The great orchestra of mankind lies in the city” During the early years of his career Beckmann devised a new type of painting that was realist and “of the moment”. It brought him initial success and began to be recognised in art circles of the day. He would become fully established with his first monographic exhibition in 1913. That same year he introduced a new theme into his painting: street scenes of Berlin that evoke the metropolitan character of the big city.

While already adopted by the Futurists and Expressionists, Beckmann’s focus on this subject was notably different, offering an objective vision through the gaze of the painter as fas cinated witness to its agitation. The following years were marked by the experience of t he war. Like many German artists of his generation Beckmann enlisted as a volunteer, not out of patr iotism but in search of a life- changing experience, which would ultimately become a form of artistic learning.

Following temporary leave of absence from the army due to a nerv ous breakdown, in 1915 he moved to Frankfurt where he lived until 1933. This was the start of a new life, both in personal terms with the crisis of his first marriage and his second in 1925 to Mathilde von Kaulbach (known as “Quappi”), and in artistic ones.

Beckmann’s reputation c ontinued to grow. “I believe that I love painting as much as I do precise ly because it forces me to be objective. There is nothing I hate more than sentimentality” the artist wrote in 1918 in a text that sets out his creative principles. Rejection of sentimentality, obje ctivity, concentration on the volumetric aspect of the painting: Be ckmann was the first artist to formulate these basic princip les, using them to establish one of the prevailing trends in the post-wa r aesthetic. Nonetheless, when this aesthetic became a fashionable tend ency with the name of Neue Sachlichkeit [New Objectivity], of which he was considered by many to be the principal representative, Beckmann continued to reject being labelled in any way. During the years of the rise of Nazism Beckmann’s positi on became increasingly difficult. He was a prominent pub lic figure in Frankfurt and while his painting revealed its German roots and was only moderately modern, his contacts with the Jewish soci al elite told against him.

He returned to Berlin in 1933 in search of greater anonymity. German museums were, however, ceasing to display his work and hi s income started to decline.

On the day of the inauguration of the Degenerate Art exhibition in 1937 Beckmann caught a train to Amsterdam and never returned to Germany. Following a chronological order, this first part of this exhibition aims to present all the different aspects of Beckmann’s output during the period in question up to his exile.

Among the most important works shown in this section, alongside various sculptures and prints are:

The Street Family Picture , 1920. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller

Carnival , Double Portrait , 1925. Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf 4 (1914),

Self-portrait with a Glass of Champagne (1919),

Self-portrait as a Clown (1921),

Double Portrait. Carnival (1925),

The Boat (1926),

Carnival in Paris (1930)

and Society, Paris (1931).

Leaving and beginning

“What I want to show in my work is the idea that is hidden behind what we call reality [...] From the starting point of the present I look for the bridge that leads from the visible to the invisible [...]” The most important innovation in Beckmann’s Berlin phase, between 1933 and 1937, was the appearance in his work of a new pictorial format, namely the triptych. Adopted by other German painters during the interwar period, for Beckmann it represented a conscious reference to medieval German art, connecting 20 th -century German painting with its Gothic and Renaissance past. As a type of painting intended for public consumption the triptych would gradually replace the large-format 19 th -century salon painting while with Beckmann it is also associated with the large-format paintings of his youth. These works reflect a radical rethinking not just regarding his creative output but also his relationship with the world and his concept of t he meaning of life and man’s fate. Investigating the visible and the most sensory aspect of the world in order to capture the invisible is characteristic of allegory. The principal effect that exile had on Beckmann’s work was to increase his commitment to this type of painting, princ ipally expressed in the form of triptychs.

The exhibition includes three of the ten that he produced (one of them unfinished), including The Beginning, which he started in Amsterdam in 1946 and completed in the United States in 1949. In it, the artist represented his new beginnings while evoking childhood memories. Masks The first effect of exile is to question the natural identity of the exiled person. Any individual expelled from their home has also been deprived of the ir identity to some extent. The paradigm of this condition is the wandering artist, circus or cabaret performer who appears before the audience in a mask or costume. Another such paradigm is carnival.

Among the principal works in this section are:

Self-portrait with Horn (1938), one of two self-portraits that Beckmann painted in his early months in Amsterdam and among his most memorable works; the triptych Carnival (1943), in which the artist includes himself as Pierrot dressed in white in the central panel; Begin the Beguine (1946), in which the festive atmosphere of the dance is counterbalanced by a setting that suggests a latent menace; and

Masquerade (1948), which reveals the same combination of the

Begin the Beguine , 1946. Collection of the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor. Museum Purchase, 1948

The Beginning , 1946 - 1949. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot ( 1876–1967 ), 1967 5

festive and the sinister and in which, as in so many of Beck mann’s works, the couple in fancy dress are the artist and his second wife Quappi. Among these paintings, those dating from the artist’s relatively happy years in the United States re veal how the allegorical knot that connects exile with disguise and with the most sinister side of the crisis of identity continued to be present in Beckmann’s consciousness.

Electric Babylon 

The large city is the paradigmatic place of modern man’s loss of identity. In historical terms this sentiment first emerged around the end of the 19th and start of the 20th centuries but there are ancient precedents.

The Bible recounts the Jews’ exile to Babylon, a place where the divine sense of belonging that constituted their identity as a people was erased as they were subjected to a multitude of false idols. “Electric Babylon”, the title for this section, thus refers to the modern metropolis where the frontiers between the rural a nd the urban, the natural and the artificial and between day and night break down. The result is a labyrinth of bars, gambling halls, dance halls and performance, spaces of temptation and pe dition that present themselves to the biblical Prodigal Son. The city as modern metropolis, “where everyone is a unique event” in Beckmann’s words, became one of the key themes of German sociology at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The transition from the countryside to the city is the quintessence of modernity and the experience of that modernisation, which traumatically culminated in World War I and the destruct ion of hope, would profoundly influence Beckmann’s work. For him, the metropolis presented itself as a performance and among its different forms he was most attracted to the circus and the variety show.  

Image result

Large Variety Show with Magician and Dancer (1942) is the most spectacular of his interpretations of this theme: here everything is slight-of hand, confusion, fireworks, smoke and the glitter of sequins. Babylon, city of exile, is also ho wever the capital of temptations, the paradigmatic site of the perdition of

The prodigal son, 1949 - Max Beckmann
The Prodigal Son (1949), another of the artist’s essential works on display in this section and a subject to which he had devoted a series of watercolours in 1918. This section also includes a number of watercolours dating from Beckmann’s final years when he had fulfilled his dream of moving to New York and enjoye d a prolific and highly successful phase.

Image result

Plaza (Hotel Lobby) , 1950. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. Estate of Max Beckmann / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany

Plaza (Hotel Vestibule) 
 Image result

and  Night in the City , both of 1950 are the direct result of his everyday life in the great metropolis, the greatest “orchestra of humanity on the face of the earth” in the artist’s own words. The long goodbye To leave is to die a little, or a lot. With every le ave-taking something breaks. The exile is a figure of death and vice versa. Furthermore, while Beckmann was an artist who persistently questioned his German identity from the start of his career, in the new Germany that emerged with the rise of National Socialism the parallel between exile and death became a reality.

Having settled in Amsterdam after they left Germany, Max and Quappi lived in the anonymity of exile and with an uncertain future. This was once again the start of a new life. The artist’s first large-scale allegorical composition that he began in Amsterdam is entitled  

 Image result

Birth (1937). A few months later he painted

Image result

Death (1938). With a horizontal format and marked compositional and iconographic parallels, they seem to be devised as a pair although Beckmann sold them separately.

Birth and Death are the two great portals of our existence, the obverse and reverse of a single reality and the same image of the exile. We are born itinerant artists, unaware of what life holds for us. We die as travellers, again not knowing how our end will be. What lies between is pure exil  and primarily suffering. Life is torment and no one can escape the force of destiny. The pr incipal force that drives us during that long goodbye of life is desire, of which the most explicit manifestation is sexual desire. Together with the above-mentioned Death ,  

Image result

Vampire (1947-48), Large Still Life with Sculpture and Air Balloon with Windmill (1947) are some of the works to be seen in this secti on.

The sea

The sea is one of the principal motifs in Beckmann’s work , an image of travel and exile, an immense extension in which nothing is still and a medium in which, like rivers, human exist ence flows to its end, is purified and renews itself. Pure fate and pure menace: a seductive glitter for the Argonauts and a doomed blackness for Icarus. Seduction and threat.

Transporting the Sphinxes (1945), one of Beckmann’s most enigmatic works;

Image result

Cabins (1948), in which a boat becomes the representation of a city in miniature;

and Falling Man (1950), one of his most surprising paintings, are among the most important works in this section.

The exhibition culminates and concludes with the triptych The Argonauts. Beckmann worked on it for more than a year and a half and considered it completed on 27 December 1950, dying of a heart attack later the same day. He produced the left panel first, which he referred to as “the painter and his model” as an independent work, subsequently completing it with two further canvases and at this point referred to the whole as “the artists”. The left panel thus became an allegory of painting, the right of music and the centre of poetry. However, according to Quappi, having had a dream about the Greek legend, a few days before he finished the painting he started to use the title of The Argonauts and at this point he may have added various classical attributes such as the s word held by the artist’s model and the sandals. The Argonauts completes a cycle begun 45 years before with Young Men by the Sea , which marked the triumphal start of the painter’s career and which also has the sea as its backdrop.

Image result

Oil on canvas, 65.1 × 100.9 cm
New York, The Museum of Modern Art