Wednesday, March 27, 2019

John Driscoll American Drawings Collection

 
The Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State announced a transformational gift of 140 American works on paper, recently donated by Penn State alumnus Dr. John P. Driscoll. The expansive gift, one of the most important in the forty-seven-year history of the University’s art museum, establishes a significant American drawings collection at the Palmer Museum of Art.

The John Driscoll American Drawings Collection spans more than 150 years of American art history from 1795 to 1950, and in many ways, reflects the wide-ranging scholarly and collecting interests of its namesake.

John Vanderlyn (1776-1852), Study After Poussin (Study for the Baptism of Christ), c. 1795, charcoal on paper, 11 x 17 inches. Palmer Museum of Art, John Driscoll American Drawings Collection.


Highlights of the collection include a rare and early charcoal sketch by the neoclassical painter John Vanderlyn, important Hudson River School drawings by Jasper Francis Cropsey, Sanford Robinson Gifford, David Johnson, Jervis McEntee, and William Trost Richards, as well as city and architectural scenes by the most accomplished artists of the nineteenth century. Works on paper by women artists and a rare sketchbook by Jane Peterson, as well as Native American and western subjects, are well represented in the collection.

Additional important works by Edwin Austin Abbey, Kenyon Cox, Arthur B. Davies, and Charles Hawthorne traverse the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and lead into an important group of six drawings done between 1908 and 1934 by the early American modernist Marsden Hartley. Driscoll’s gift also includes oil paintings by Arthur B. Davies, John Francis, William Sidney Mount, and Russell Smith, as well as the only extant complete set of Marsden Hartley’s 1923 “Berlin Prints.”

William Trost Richards (1833–1905), Landscape, c.  1865, graphite and gouache on paper, 17 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches.  Palmer Museum of Art, John Driscoll American Drawings Collection
William Trost Richards (1833–1905), Landscape, c. 1865, graphite and gouache on paper, 17 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches. Palmer Museum of Art, John Driscoll American Drawings Collection



Marsden Hartley (1877–1943), Flowers in Goblet #3, 1923, lithograph, 16 ⅜ x 10 ½ inches. Palmer Museum of Art, John Driscoll American Drawings Collection



John William Hill (1812–1879), Under the Falls, Niagara, c. 1870, watercolor on paper, 29 x 21 1/2 inches. Palmer Museum of Art, John Driscoll American Drawings Collection

Driscoll, who earned a master’s degree as well as Ph.D. in art history from Penn State, is a scholar, collector, gardener, and art dealer based in New York City. His involvement with Penn State’s university art museum dates back nearly fifty years to the summer of 1972, when he began working at the museum as a graduate assistant. In 1976, he became the museum’s first official registrar. In late 1978, Driscoll left Penn State for a position as curator of the William H. Lane Foundation in Massachusetts, followed by a guest curatorial post at the Worcester Art Museum before establishing an art gallery in Boston and then, acquiring Babcock Galleries, New York, in 1987. In 2012, he renamed the business Driscoll Babcock. This year marks the gallery’s 167th year, making it New York’s oldest art gallery.

For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design


Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH
(02/20/19–06/02/19)

New Britain Museum of American Art, CT
(11/07/19–02/02/20)

Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, FL
(02/22/20–04/26/20)

The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, TN
(07/02/20–09/27/20)
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe
(10/22/20–01/17/21)



Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA
(02/20/21–05/09/21)
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
(06/06/21–09/12/21)



For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design is the first exhibition to highlight a pivotal aspect of the collection of the National Academy of Design—the joint presentation of an artist’s portrait with his or her diploma work.


 For America is the first exhibition to highlight the fundamental characteristic of the National Academy’s collection: the joint presentation of an artist’s portrait with her or his representative work. The exhibition’s one hundred extraordinary paintings present not only a visual document of the Academy’s membership but a unique history of American painting from 1809 to the present.

The exhibition will tour to eight venues across the United States, bringing important paintings to audiences across the country while also enriching the dialogue of scholars, students, and artists of all ages with the firsthand experience of American masterpieces.

From its founding in 1825 to the present, the NAD has required all Academicians to donate a representative work to the Academy’s collection, and, from 1839 to 1994, the Academy also required Associates to present a portrait of themselves, whether painted by their own hand or that of a fellow artist.


For nearly two centuries, the National Academy of Design has been a leading artistic voice in America. Founded in 1825 (and known simply as the National Academy), this honorary artists’ society, school, and museum has helped shape America’s art and continues to be an active and influential institution to this day. Selected by their peers, members have always been among the most distinguished artists of our nation. 

This exhibition of 100 paintings by 78 artists tells the story of the National Academy, from the early 19th century into the 21st. 

 Included are works by some of the most recognizable names in American art: Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Maxfield Parrish, William Merritt Chase, N.C. and Andrew Wyeth, Thomas Eakins, Robert Henri, Ernest Blumenschein, Isabel Bishop, Richard Estes, Charles White, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Wayne Thiebaud, Peter Saul, and many more.

Catalogue



April 30, 2019
304 pages, 8 1/4 x 11
200 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300244281
HC - Paper over Board 


A sweeping look at the ways American artists have viewed themselves, their peers, and their painted worlds over two centuries

This stunning book provides an unprecedented glimpse into the past two centuries of American art, tracing artistic tradition and innovation at the National Academy of Design from its 19th-century founding to the present. The nation’s oldest artist honorary society has maintained a unique collecting principle: each member gives a self-portrait (or, until 1994, a portrait by a contemporary Academician) as well as an example of their work. By presenting artists’ portraits in tandem with their self-selected representative works, this book offers a unique opportunity to explore how American artists have viewed both themselves and the worlds they depicted.

The diverse selection of artists whose work is showcased here includes Frederic Edwin Church, Eastman Johnson, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Eakins, Cecilia Beaux, Isabel Bishop, Andrew Wyeth, Charles White, Wayne Thiebaud, Louisa Matthíasdóttir, David Diao, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Peter Saul. Essays by a stellar roster of distinguished historians and art historians, curators, artists, and architects delve into single artworks or pairs of paintings, while others explore themes such the representation of landscapes and the figurative tradition in American art. Additionally, 17 current Academicians—visual artists and architects including Walter Chatham, Catherine Opie and Fred Wilson—contribute personal responses to individual artworks.
Jeremiah William McCarthy is associate curator at the American Federation of Arts. Diana Thompson is director of collections and curatorial affairs at the National Academy of Design.





Will Barnet, Self - Portrait, 1981. Oil on canvas, 31 ⅛ × 45 ½ in. National Academy of Design, New York © 2018 Will Barnet Trust / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

Samuel F. B. Morse

Samuel F. B. Morse, Self-Portrait, c. 1809, watercolor on ivory.National Academy of Design, New York. Gift of Samuel P. Avery, John G. Brown, Thomas B. Clarke, Lockwood de Forest, Daniel Huntington, James C. Nicoll, and Harry W. Watrous, 1900. Courtesy American Federation of Arts


William J. Whittemore, Charles Courtney Curran, 1888-89. Oil on canvas, 17 × 21 in. National Academy of Design, New York Courtesy American Federation of Arts.   



Asher B. Durand
Self-Portrait, ca. 1835
Oil on canvas
30 1/8 x 25 1/4 in.
National Academy of Design,
New York, Gift of the Artist



 Cecilia Beaux. Self-Portrait, 1894. Oil on canvas 25 x 20 in. National Academy of Design,


Artists in the exhibition: Samuel F. B. Morse, Asher B. Durand, Frederic Edwin Church, John Frederick Kensett, Albert Bierstadt, Emanuel Leutze, Ferdinand Thomas Lee Boyle, Edward Harrison May, George Henry Hall, Daniel Huntington, Eastman Johnson, Oliver Ingraham Lay, Winslow Homer, Elihu Vedder, George Inness, Wyatt Eaton, William J. Whittemore, William Merritt Chase, Robert Frederick Blum, John Singer Sargent, Cecilia Beaux, Kenyon Cox, Maxfield Parrish, Thomas Eakins, Robert Reid, Childe Hassam, Frederick Carl Frieseke, J. Alden Weir, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Richard E. Miller, Henry Ossawa Tanner, George Bellows, Robert Henri, Daniel Garber, Gertrude Fiske, Mary Shepard Greene Blumenschein, Ernest L. Blumenschein, Walter Ufer, Ellen Emmet Rand, Guy C. Wiggins, Paul Sample, Isabel Bishop, Peter Hurd, John Steuart Curry, N. C. Wyeth, Reginald Marsh, Aaron Bohrod, Andrew Wyeth, Ivan Albright, Jules Kirschenbaum, Philip Pearlstein, Jane Freilicher, Hughie Lee-Smith, George Tooker, Richard Estes, Lois Dodd, May Stevens, Charles White, Will Barnet, Wayne Thiebaud, Reuben Tam, Rosemarie Beck, Paul Resika, Gretna Campbell, William Clutz, Louisa Matthíasdóttir, Altoon Sultan, W. Lee Savage, James McGarrell, Emma Amos, Benny Andrews, David Kapp, Jacqueline Gourevitch, David Diao, Walter Hatke, Albert Kresch, Ann Gale, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Peter Saul.

Christie’s New York Impressionist and Modern May 2019


Christie’s will present The Collection of Drue Heinz, which encompasses a remarkable selection of fine art that will be offered throughout Christie’s New York Impressionist and Modern Evening and Day Sales in May. The collection of Drue Heinz is a reflection of her keen observation and innate eye. Heinz was married to H.J. (Jack) Heinz II – CEO of the H. J. Heinz Company – from 1953 until his death in 1987, and she made most of her acquisitions over the course of their three decades of marriage. Throughout her life, Heinz enjoyed nothing more than taking on new endeavors that advanced the work of emerging artists of all kinds. Her spirit is very much reflected within her collection, and as such, proceeds from its sale will go to support her beloved Hawthornden Literary Retreat among other charitable projects. From these and other benefactions one takes away the overall impression of an energetic collaborator who took a personal interest in undertakings that she felt were important to nourishing the human spirit. Works from the collection will also be offered across the Spring Sales of Post-War and Contemporary and Latin American Art.

Jessica Fertig, Head of Evening Sale, Impressionist and Modern Art, New York, remarked:

The collection of fine art that Mrs. Heinz assembled includes the most important artists of the early modern period —Picasso, Modigliani, Giacometti, Monet, Magritte and Matisse. From Bonnard’s Une terrasse à Grasse, one of the finest and most sumptuous examples of the artist’s terrace series, or in the suspended drama of Picasso’s Course de taureaux, through to the intimate dimensions of Cézanne’s pencil study of five bathers, related to the celebrated Basel painting of the same subject, or the quietude of an exquisite Morandi still-life. In every case, the art reflects careful, informed selection. And it was displayed in the Heinz homes so that at every turn the eye would fall on something thought-provoking and beautiful.


Leading the collection is the tour de force by


Balthus, Thérèse sur une banquette, oil on board, 1939. $12-18 million. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.

Balthus, Thérèse sur une banquette, 1939 (estimate: $12-18 million), which will be offered in the 13 May Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art. The present picture is the last of the artist’s renowned series of portraits featuring his muse, Thérèse Blanchard. In late 1935 Balthus became acquainted with Thérèse, a girl from a large family that lived a few blocks from the artist’s new studio. She was fourteen years old when she posed in 1939 for Thérèse sur une banquette. Between 1936 and 1939, Thérèse featured in “a series of ten paintings that must be regarded as [Balthus’s] most perceptive and sensitive portrayals of a young sitter and among his finest works,” Sabine Rewald has written. “The portraits of Thérèse, showing her reading or doing nothing but dreaming, inaugurated what would be the leitmotif of Balthus’s oeuvre.” In Thérèse sur une banquette, Balthus showcased his primarily professional, compositional concerns — aiming to depict his model in a novel, unique posture, with neither a familiar nor apparent precedent. He moreover sought to evoke her inner world with a sense of presence that was outwardly and convincingly grounded in the mechanics of movement, while exalting the sublime architecture of her youthful figure. Balthus established the complex lineaments of her extended posture, and every telling nuance in her expression, as she appears completely absorbed in a moment of play.

In featuring his teenaged subjects, Balthus captured an essential aspect of their physical deportment: their ability to casually move—seemingly with a modern dancer’s agility and ease—from one posture into another, naturally and unselfconsciously assuming positions that adults might normally avoid as clumsy or maladroit. Such poses might challenge even a practiced, professional artist’s model, and are consequently rarely encountered in figure painting. “In 1939 Balthus completed one of his most emblematic paintings of a peculiar state, close to the graceful state of childhood, which precedes the beginning of the heavy, awkward age of adolescence,” Jean Clair wrote. “The portrait of Thérèse on a Bench is caught in the sort of delicate balance that cannot last for more than a moment… Yet this body in unstable balance is invincibly drawn; it slides towards the further shore to which the gravity of adulthood inexorably leads, when play and its ease can no longer counterbalance the leaden weight of things.” Here Balthus matches his renaissance idol, Piero della Francesca’s mastery of geometric balance and proportion, with Thérèse’s triangular form bisected by the thread hanging from her right hand.

Highlights from the Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art to include: 




Amedeo Modigliani, Lunia Czechowska (à la robe noire), 1919. Oil on canvas. $12-18 million
Leading the collection is Amedeo Modigliani’s Lunia Czechowska (à la robe noire), 1919 (estimate: $12-18 million). Modigliani was infatuated with his subject, a young Polish émigré, who was married to a close friend of the artist’s dealer, Léopold Zborowski, and would ultimately go on to paint her likeness in ten known paintings. Czechowska was 25 when she sat for the present portrait, a canvas that Joseph Lanthemann praised for being “plein de noblesse, de beauté et de communion”. Czechowska’s fine, delicate features bespeak a discerning intelligence and a rare sensitivity, which perfectly suited the artist’s fascination with this type. Her serious demeanor and youthfully lithe, feminine figure lent themselves well to the primary influences the artist liked to incorporate and show off in his portraits—the elongated forms of the 16th century Italian Mannerists Parmigianino and Pontormo, filtered through his modernist attraction to aspects of African tribal art.



Pierre Bonnard’s La Terrasse ou Une terrasse à Grasse, 1912 (estimate: $6-9 million) is a pageant of high-keyed color and luxuriant, Mediterranean vegetation. This idyllic scene — one of Bonnard’s earliest tours de force on the theme of the terrace — depicts the grounds of the Villa Antoinette at Grasse, some twelve miles north of Cannes, where the artist and his future wife Marthe stayed on holiday from January to May 1912. La Terrasse is one of the two largest canvases that Bonnard painted during his exceptionally productive stay at Grasse, both major decorative statements visualizing the Côte d’Azur as a modern-day Arcadia. In La Terrasse, Bonnard creates a private, enclosed world that evokes the sultry heat and languorous reverie of a Mediterranean afternoon. Marthe is now subordinate to the colorful profusion of vegetation, her motionless figure registering to the viewer within the composition only after a slight, almost imperceptible delay; her sun-dappled blue jacket and brown cloche hat seem to merge, wraithlike, with the surrounding ground of the terrace. “This dreaming feminine presence, Marthe,” Sasha Newman has written, “who so often appears in cutoff views—glimpsed on a balcony, through a door, or reflected in a mirror—is central to the underlying air of mystery in much of Bonnard’s art.”


 
Henri Matisse, Nu à la fenêtre. Estimate: $7-10 million. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
 
Henri Matisse painted Nu à la fenêtre (estimate: $7-10 million) – also known as Nu nacré (Pearly Nude) for the iridescent quality of its light—in his new studio during the first part of 1929 and sold the canvas to Bernheim-Jeune that September. The painting was reproduced shortly thereafter in two important monographs, one by Florent Fels and the other by Roger Fry, which paid tribute to the artist on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday in December 1929;  it was first exhibited publicly at the Kraushaar Galleries in New York the following fall. The focal point of this luminous,canvas is the nude model, the subject par excellence of Matisse’s exemplary Nice period. “The Odalisques were the bounty of a happy nostalgia, a lovely vivid dream, and the almost ecstatic, enchanted days and nights of the Moroccan climate,” the artist recounted. “I felt an irresistible need to express that ecstasy, that divine unconcern, in corresponding colored rhythms, rhythms of sunny and lavish figures and colors”. Here, Matisse depicted a sultry brunette named Loulou, one of several ballet dancers from the Compagnie de Paris who populated the artist’s private pictorial theater in 1928-1929. The paintings that Matisse created in early 1929 represent the culmination of his work at Nice during this transformative period.



Pablo Picasso, a lifelong aficionado of the heroism and pathos of the bullfight, executed Course de taureaux in 1900 (estimate: $4-6 million), capturing the brief, electrifying moment immediately before the bull charges into the corrida, its every nerve-ending fired with the anticipation of combat. Picasso rendered this scene, laying down pastel in vivid hues and with a material density that conjures the physicality of the impending encounter, in mid-1900, the artist was just eighteen years old, ablaze with youthful ambition and preparing for his own dramatic entry into a new arena. The previous year, he had returned home to Barcelona after a brief stint at the prestigious but stiflingly traditional Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid; now, ever more forceful and independent, he was just months away from his first trip to Paris, determined to prove his worth in the very center of the art world. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

More on Sotheby’s Contemporary and Impressionist & Modern Art this May

 Highlights include:     Willem de Kooning Untitled X Oil on canvas 77 by 88 in. Executed in 1975 Estimate $8/12 million.Courtesy Sotheby's.   Willem de Kooning’s Untitled X, a stunning example from the group of works created in 1975 that marked the artist’s transition from a period of radical experimentation to the lush abstracts which are among his most celebrated and sought after works today;    
Francis Bacon, Study for Portrait Signed, titled and dated 1981 on the reverse. Oil and dry transfer lettering on canvas, 78 by 58 in. Executed in 1981. Estimate $12/18 million. Courtesy Sotheby's. 
Francis Bacon’s Study for Portrait, the last of the artist’s famed portraits of his lover and muse George Dyer (pictured left, estimate $12/18 million);  he most comprehensive group of late works by Philip Guston ever to appear at auction, including     Legs, Rug, Floor from 1976 (estimate $6/8 million)    and Red Sky from 1978 (estimate $6/8 million);  and signature portraits by Frank Auerbarch depicting   his wife Julia Wolstenhome and his friend Catherine Lampert. 
Also: 


 Max Beckmann Liegender Akt in starker Verkürzung (Reclining Nude Sharply Foreshortened) Oil on canvas 29 by 21 in. Signed Beckmann and dated St. L. 48 lower left Executed in 1948 Estimate $3/5 million.Courtesy Sotheby's.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Early Rubens


Legion of Honor in San Francisco
April 6 to Sept. 8, 2019

Art Gallery of Ontario
October 12, 2019 to January 5, 2020

In 1608, after a period of intense artistic study in Italy, Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) returned to his hometown of Antwerp. He found a city eager to renew its visual culture and ready to support him, a bold artist who worked at a rapid pace and dramatic scale that could satisfy the demand for religious images while also supplying private collectors with works of ancient history and mythology.


Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640) Boar Hunt, ca.  1615/1617.  Oil on canvas, 98 7/16 X 126 in.  (250 x 320 cm).  Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseille, France, Inv.  BA103 Photo: Jean Bernard.  © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY

Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640) Boar Hunt, ca. 1615/1617. Oil on canvas, 98 7/16 X 126 in. (250 x 320 cm). Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseille, France, Inv. BA103 Photo: Jean Bernard. © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY
(Image provided courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)
Early Rubens is the first exhibition dedicated to the pivotal years between 1609 and 1621 when the Northern Baroque master established his career. In more than 30 paintings and 20 works on paper, the exhibition will trace Rubens’s early development as a master painter with a unique gift for depicting seductive and shocking narratives. Rubens was not only a sought-after artist, but also a diplomat, shrewd business man, and a friend to scholars and monarchs. Early Rubens will explore the artist’s meteoric rise to the first rank of European painters through a series of social and artistic choices that laid the groundwork for his international fame.

“Peter Paul Rubens was both a prodigious and influential artist and one of the most extraordinary figures of the 17th century,” says Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “We are delighted to present this examination of Rubens’s early work at the Legion of Honor in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario. Inspired by continual scholarship and study of our collections of work by Flemish masters, the exhibition will contextualize Rubens’s importance and legacy for our audiences.”



Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, Seigen 1577–1640 Antwerp) "The Dreaming Silenus", 1610–1612. Oil on canvas, 62 1/4 x 85 3/8 in. (158 x 217 cm). Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien.
Image provided courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

More than 50 works from private and public collections in Europe and North America — including the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp; the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; the Princely Collections of Liechtenstein; the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; the British Museum, London; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York will be brought together for the exhibition. Many will be exhibited in North America or on the US West Coast for the first time. The exhibition is arranged thematically, thereby revealing Rubens’s mastery of a broad range of visual styles and subject matter, both historical and mythological.

“What distinguished Rubens and made his pictures so thrilling for his early viewers, was his ability to re-interpret important models he encountered both on the Italian peninsula and in the Low Countries through his own developing sense for vibrant, naturalistic color and his virtuoso brushwork,” says Kirk Nickel, assistant curator of European painting at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “His inclination to work quickly and at a large scale was essential for Rubens’s success in repopulating the city's churches with religious images, even while he painted startling episodes of ancient valor, obscure Greco-Roman mythologies, and unsettling moments of biblical history for private collectors.”

Rubens tribute money.jpg

Early Rubens is anchored in The Tribute Money (ca. 1610 –1615), a treasured Flemish Baroque masterpiece from the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco,



and the recently rediscovered The Massacre of the Innocents (ca. 1611–1612), a centerpiece of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s collection.

"Early Rubens is a story of a painter and his city, of how Rubens’s return to his chosen home at a particular moment in history sparked in Antwerp an artistic, intellectual and commercial revitalization,” says Sasha Suda, curator of European art at the Art Gallery of Ontario. “The Massacre of the Innocents not only highlights Rubens’s achievement as a painter, it provides powerful insight into the mindset of the citizens of Antwerp in 1610. I am excited for our visitors to see it in a new way, and to understand the incredibly important place it holds in Rubens’s development.”

Early Rubens is organized by Kirk Nickel, assistant curator of European paintings at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Sasha Suda, curator of European art and R. Fraser Elliott Chair of Prints and Drawings at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. The exhibition will be on view at the Legion of Honor from April 6 through September 8, 2019, and then at the Art Gallery of Ontario from October 12, 2019, through January 5, 2020.

In Detail

After an eight-year sojourn in Italy, Rubens returned to Antwerp in 1608 to attend to his dying mother. Italy had been transformative for Rubens, both in terms of his artistic skills and his professional ambitions. A group of works from Rubens’s Italian years, including altarpiece commissions and smaller cabinet pictures, will open the exhibition, setting the context for the artist’s later artistic developments.

Rubens’s experience in Italy informed the social and intellectual circles that he sought to join in Antwerp. A selection of portraits —some commissioned, others intimate portrayals of close friends and family members—will show how Rubens sought to establish himself as a “gentleman painter” and how he acquired increased social and professional footing through his relationships with Antwerp’s mix of humanists, merchants, and religious thinkers.


The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s portraits (ca. 1611)

 

of silk merchant Rogier Clarisse and his wife, Sara Breyel, reflect his widening network of relationships that also touched the humanist Jan Woverius and the leadership of Antwerp’s religious communities.

As a bastion of Catholic faith in the face of Dutch Protestantism, Antwerp was eager for a visual language to match its strident support of Rome’s Counter-Reformation priorities. Rubens’s talent for capturing emotion and complex psychology in the movements of the human body was essential to his success as a painter of Christian history.

Peter Paul Rubens - Annunciation - WGA20189.jpg
Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, Seigen 1577–1640 Antwerp) "The Annunciation", 1609. Oil on canvas, 88 1/4 x 78 3/4 in. (224 x 200 cm) Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Picture Gallery, Inv. no. GG 685 © KHM–Museumsverband
Image provided courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The jewel-toned Annunciation from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna,

 File:Peter Paul Rubens - Lamentation of Christ.jpg


alongside Christ on the Straw (the Michielsen Triptych) from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp will introduce a gallery featuring scenes from the life of Jesus. These images not only stunned Antwerp at the time of their unveiling; but also set a new template for religious images in Europe and far beyond.

Rubens’s talent for portraying gripping human drama was not limited to devotional imagery, it was also integral to his success as a painter of scenes for domestic spaces and galleries. His patrons were well informed about antique art and literature, as well as recent artistic developments in Italy, and they were delighted by Rubens’s skill at incorporating these sources into his own works.

The psychological drama in paintings such as The Tribute Money and The Massacre of the Innocents exemplifies his aptitude for distilling a narrative to its moment of highest dramatic tension.

During the 1610s, Rubens began to consider how best to publish his pictorial inventions though reproductive engravings and he cultivated relationships with the engravers he felt could best translate his compositions to print. With major examples, such as The Raising of the Cross and The Battle of the Amazons from the Rijksmuseum, the exhibition will present the varied array of printmaking projects in which Rubens collaborated.

As large-scale paintings by Rubens began to enter the collections of aristocrats and royal advisors during the 1610s, his international reputation soared. By the 1620s, Rubens was a favorite of monarchs in France, England, and Spain, and capable of conducting international diplomacy alongside his artistic activities at foreign courts. The exhibition culminates with a selection of Rubens’s large gallery pictures, scaled to compete with tapestry or fresco painting.

File:Sir Peter Paul Rubens - Daniel in the Lions' Den - Google Art Project.jpg

Mural-size works such as the National Gallery of Art’s Daniel in the Lions’ Den (1614/1616) will be joined by other life-size scenes, allowing visitors to the exhibition to appreciate the scope of Rubens’s ambition while also understanding the role his workshop played in his international success.

Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale 14 May 2019 | New York


This spring,

 File:William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The Youth of Bacchus (1884).jpg

 La Jeunesse de Bacchus (The Youth of Bacchus), the most important work of William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s celebrated career, will highlight our Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in New York. Equally impressive in both scale and technical artistry, this monumental canvas is an astounding 20 feet long and 10 feet high. The work has hung in Bouguereau’s Paris studio since it was completed in 1884 — only leaving three times in its 135-year history. Offered now from the direct descendants of the artist, The Youth of Bacchus is as rare as it is spectacular. Sotheby’s sale presents the rare opportunity to own one of the greatest pictures painted in the 19th century. The work will be on view alongside Sotheby’s Asia Week exhibitions from 14 March – 24 March, and again beginning 3 May in Sotheby's newly expanded and reimagined New York galleries. (14 May | New York).




 Claude Monet, Meules. Oil on canvas. Executed in 1890, signed and dated by the artist in 1891. Estimate in excess of $55 million.

Sotheby’s announced that an enduring symbol of Impressionism from Claude Monet’s iconic Haystacks series will lead an important private collection of eight Impressionist masterworks on offer in our Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art on 14 May in New York.

Of the 25 canvases that the artist created in the early 1890s, Meules from 1890 is one of only four works from this series to come to auction this century and one of only eight remaining in private hands. The other 17 examples reside in the distinguished collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Musée d’Orsay, Paris and, perhaps most notably, six in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Meules is further distinguished by its illustrious provenance, having been acquired by wealthy Chicago socialites and fervent collectors of Impressionist works, Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer, directly from the artist’s dealer in the 1890s.

*
Having remained in the same private collection since it was acquired by the present owners at auction in 1986, the radiant canvas will be offered this May with an estimate in excess of $55 million.

Meules belongs to a group of eight outstanding works by Impressionist masters on offer this May from the same important private collection, including defining examples by Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Signac, Alfred Sisley and Édouard Vuillard. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the collection will significantly benefit two world-renowned, not-for-profit institutions in the fields of science and music.

This exquisite group of works will debut in a public exhibition beginning 3 May in Sotheby’s newly reimagined and expanded York Avenue galleries. This exhibition marks the first public viewing of Meules in over three decades.

August Uribe, Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department in New York, commented: “It is a privilege to present one of Claude Monet’s defining Impressionist paintings in our Evening Sale this May. One of the most recognizable images in art history, Monet’s Haystacks series has long served as an inspiration to countless artists since its creation in the early 1890s, and continues to inspire anyone who has viewed one of these canvases first hand. Prior to 2016, a Haystack had not been presented to collectors since Sotheby’s London offered a work from the series in June 2001, nearly 20 years ago. In addition, the seven pictures that round out this collection are exceptional in their own right, and the group as a whole is among the finest assemblages of Impressionist works that we have seen in recent years. Anytime a work, such as Meules, that has been so formative in the canon of art history comes to auction there is a palpable energy that ricochets through the market. It is with this immense enthusiasm that we look forward to presenting this wonderful group to collectors worldwide this May.”

Brooke Lampley, Vice Chairman of Sotheby’s Fine Art Division, said: “It was in 1890 with the Haystacks that Monet first began an intrepid exploration of the varying effects of light and atmosphere on a single subject over the course of time. It is these “series” pictures of haystacks, the Rouen Cathedral, and water lilies in Giverny that would eventually come to define his immense contribution to not only Impressionism, but also Abstraction and 20th century art. Now the most celebrated works of Monet's oeuvre, the series pictures are sought after by Impressionist and Contemporary collectors alike. It is a thrill to be offering a Meule that is not only distinguished among those remaining in private hands, but also easily ranks among the best in the entire series. This is a painting that showcases Claude Monet as an unparalleled landscape painter, and a radically innovative conceptual artist who would influence generations of artists to come.”

CLAUDE MONET’S MEULES
Painted at the height of Claude Monet’s artistic powers, Meules stands as a seminal work of Impressionism.

Executed in 1890 and signed and dated by the artist in 1891, Meules was acquired in the early 1890s by Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer directly from the artist’s dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel. Bertha Palmer, a celebrated Chicago socialite and the wife of well-known businessman Potter Palmer, amassed an unrivaled collection of Impressionist works, many of which are now the bedrock of the Art Institute of Chicago’s renowned Impressionist collection. Palmer acquired a large portion of the collection between 1891 and 1892 while traveling abroad to help organize the World’s Columbian Exposition, where she served as President of the Board of Lady Managers and advocated for women’s equality. The Palmers were introduced to Durand-Ruel in 1889 through curator Sarah Tyson Hallowell, who later introduced them to the artist Mary Cassatt. It is estimated that Mrs. Palmer owned nearly 90 works by Monet over the course of her life, and built a sprawling picture gallery, complete with red velvet walls, in her home to display her collection of Romantic, Barbizon and Impressionist works. Palmer owned six of Monet’s grainstack canvases, all purchased following the artist’s exhibition at Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris in 1891. While the Palmers sold many of the pictures shortly after their acquisition, the present work remained in Mrs. Palmer’s personal collection until her death in May 1918 and with her heirs for decades after.

Monet began working on the group of paintings that are almost universally known as Haystacks as early as 1884, depicting stacks that were subsumed into a wider environment. However, the major series of majestic canvases depicting grainstacks, with a focus on the evanescent effects of light, were completed between 1889 and 1891. The stacks upon which Monet lavished so much of his energy and vision during those years were actually the stores for wheat and grain, and not for hay as is the popular misconception.

The stacks in the present composition are distinguished from other depictions in the series by the diagonal swaths of light between the forms. Voluminous, full structures, the stacks suggest the great fertility and bountifulness of the Normandy landscape, their surfaces gilded and burnished with the light of the sun, imparting a sense of well-being, vitality and the harmony of nature throughout the canvas. In choosing these powerful grainstacks as his subject, Monet continued a long tradition of depicting the French countryside and its abundant riches as seen in the paintings of Jean-François Millet and the Barbizon school. However, Monet updates this tradition to striking effect. His grainstacks series contains virtually no anecdotal detail: no laborers, no figures walking through the fields or birds flying in the sky. The artist pares down his vision to focus solely on the grainstacks themselves, on the play of light on them, on the sky and the horizon. In its warmth and generosity of vision, in its elevation of the humble grainstack to an emblem of Impressionism, and in its emphasis on form and light, Meules is an undisputed masterpiece of Monet’s oeuvre and one of art history’s most evocative images.


Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening sale also features a breathtaking array of works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.






From a bird’s eye view of the Parisian streets painted by Gustave Caillebotte in 1878




to a delicate depiction of Pierre Bonnard’s muse at her toilette

 

to a vivacious large-scale Mousquetaire by Pablo Picasso, whose braggadocio leaps from the canvas, the paintings, drawings and sculpture assembled convey the complexity and dynamism of this crucial period.







Further highlights include two stunning oils by Claude Monet depicting the fields outside of Giverny,






an evocative transparence by Francis Picabia,






and, with a touching dedication to his wife, Marc Chagall’s canvas Le Paysan, replete with his favored motifs.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Impressionist’s Eye


Philadelphia Museum of Art
April 16 – August 18, 2019




Although they are regarded first and foremost as painters, the Impressionists were equally dedicated to making and exhibiting drawings, pastels, and sculptures. Over a quarter of the work exhibited in their group shows were on paper. The exhibition explores Impressionist paintings, watercolors, drawings, and sculptures together, demonstrating the versatility, experimentation, and innovation of these artists and the fluidity with which they moved from one medium to another.

File:Mary Stevenson Cassatt, American - A Woman and a Girl Driving - Google Art Project.jpg

 "A Woman and a Girl Driving," by Mary Stevenson Cassatt, 1881. Oil on canvas, 35 5/16 × 51 3/8 inches. Purchased with the W. P. Wilstach Fund, 1921. Image courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2018.

Approximately 70 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works by Manet, Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, Renoir, Morisot, Cassatt, Seurat, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rodin, drawn largely from the collection will be on view.

The exhibition will explore the perspective and originality that the Impressionists brought to landscapes, still lifes, portraits, nudes, and scenes of modern life. Cropping, unusual angles, flattened grounds, vibrant color, and vigorous brushwork are tools these artists used to add a startling modern angle to their painting and drawing.

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"In the Loge," around 1879, by Mary Stevenson Cassatt. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Mrs. Sargent McKean, 1950.

File:Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French - The Large Bathers - Google Art Project.jpg

Among the highlights will be a close examination of a major work by Renoir : his The Large Bathers.

The Impressionist’s Eye. Courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art

Monet's Path on the Island of Saint Martin, Vetheuil, 1881,

Two drawings by Van Gogh—both from 1888 but worked in very different styles—demonstrate how he created large-scale drawings in an exaggerated “painterly” style for the art market or transformed his paintings into meticulous drawings as gifts for friends.

Pages from Cézanne’s sketchbooks, last displayed at the Museum in 1989, will be on view.

Curator
Jennifer Thompson, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, and Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection

Friday, March 8, 2019

'Hockney - Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature


Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
March 1- May 26, 2019
  •  




From March 1, the colossal works of David Hockney will be on display in the Netherlands. For the first time, this spectacular exhibition offers an extensive and colourful exploration of the common ground between the work of Vincent van Gogh and David Hockney. The exhibition 'Hockney - Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature' continues to May 26, 2019, at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

The world-famous Yorkshire landscapes by David Hockney (1937) are a vivid feast for the eyes. This is the first time that these works will be on display in the Netherlands. The blockbuster exhibition Hockney – Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature demonstrates the unmistakable influence that Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) had on the displayed works.


David Hockney, 'The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven)', Oil on 32 canvases (36 x 48" each), 144 x 384" overall, © David Hockney, Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt, Centre Pompidou, Paris.  Musée national d’art moderne – Centre de création industrielle
David Hockney, 'The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven)', Oil on 32 canvases (36 x 48" each), 144 x 384" overall, © David Hockney, Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt, Centre Pompidou, Paris. Musée national d’art moderne – Centre de création industrielle


One of the highlights is the colossal The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven), consisting of 32 parts and measuring 9.75 metres wide by 3.66 metres high. Sketchbooks, videos, photographic drawings and 20 large iPad drawings are also on display for the first time in the Netherlands.

Especially for this exhibition, photographer Rineke Dijkstra created a portrait of the artist, who is now 81 years old.

Back to Yorkshire

In the 1990s, Hockney started to return from Los Angeles to his native region: the Yorkshire Wolds in Great Britain, where he painted the characteristic countryside. These paintings, the Yorkshire landscapes, reveal thorough observations of the changing four seasons, and how light, space and nature are constantly in flux. These imposing landscapes offer a vivid insight into Hockney’s love of nature.

The landscape paintings show clear links with Van Gogh’s landscapes, such as  

 

The Harvest by Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Arles, June 1888, oil on canvas, 73.4 cm x 91.8 cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

The Harvest (1888),  




Field with Irises near Arles (1888)

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1a/Vincent_van_Gogh_-_The_garden_of_Saint_Paul%27s_Hospital_%28%60The_fall_of_the_leaves%27%29_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/623px-Vincent_van_Gogh_-_The_garden_of_Saint_Paul%27s_Hospital_%28%60The_fall_of_the_leaves%27%29_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

and The Garden of Saint Paul’s Hospital (‘Leaf-Fall’) (1889).

The stylised vertical lines of the tree trunks in the latter work by Van Gogh are analogous to the repetitive lines in Hockney’s renowned The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven).

‘Everyone loves spring. Everything emerges and straightens up. It’s like nature’s erection’. - David Hockney

Hockney on Van Gogh

Hockney: ‘His paintings are full of movement. What people love about Van Gogh’s paintings is that all the brush marks are visible and you can see how they are painted. When you’re drawing one blade of grass you’re looking and then you see more. And then you see the other blades of grass and you’re always seeing more. Well, that’s exciting to me and it was exciting to Van Gogh. I mean, he saw very clearly’.

‘The world is colourful. It is beautiful, I think. Nature is great. Van Gogh worshipped nature. He might have been miserable, but that doesn’t show in his work. There are always things that will try to pull you down. But we should be joyful in looking at the world’. - David Hockney

Unique exhibition

Hockney – Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature demonstrates the influence of Van Gogh on Hockney’s work, exploring both artists’ fascination with nature, their use of bright, contrasting colours and their experimentation with perspective.

Axel Ruger: ‘The monumental Yorkshire landscapes play a central role, including The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven), on loan from the Centre Pompidou, which absorbs the viewer in nature, as it were, and incorporates them in the artwork. These colourful landscapes clearly reveal Hockney’s love of nature; in the exhibition, these works are displayed alongside Van Gogh’s landscape paintings’.

It was in his Yorkshire period that Hockney began experimenting with his iPad, using the device to create scintillating landscapes. Twenty (from a series of over 100) of these accomplished drawings will be displayed in large format in Hockney – Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature. The exhibition features some 60 works, including two series of watercolours and charcoal drawings (that consist of 36 and 25 smaller works respectively). Hockney’s sketchbooks are also on display, as well as several loose sheets that undeniably take their cue from Van Gogh’s drawing style.

 Hockney – Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature also features masterful videos of the four seasons and one of Hockney’s recent – technically innovative – photographic drawings, alongside watercolours, black-and-white drawings and prints. Especially for the exhibition, photographer Rineke Dijkstra created a portrait of Hockney, in which the artist’s perceptivity and open take on the world are tangible.

Inspiration

Hockney – Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature is the first extensive monographic Hockney exhibition to be organised in the Netherlands. The exhibition features works representing all of the techniques in his oeuvre. None of the works have been on display in the Netherlands before. Hockney – Van Gogh follows suit with a series of presentations in which the Van Gogh Museum shows how numerous generations of artists are inspired by Van Gogh’s work. Since 2014, presentations in this series have been on display featuring paintings by Francis Bacon, Edvard Munch, Frank Auerbach, Willem de Kooning and Peter Doig, as well as expressionist works from the Merzbacher Collection. These modern and contemporary artists not only show how Van Gogh inspires, in turn, they also influence how Van Gogh is viewed now and in the future.

David Hockney




David Hockney, 'Kilham to Langtoft II, 27 July 2005', Oil on canvas, 24 x 36", © David Hockney, Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt



Hockney is one of the best-known representatives of pop art. He moved to the United States in the mid-1960s, where he developed a more realistic approach to painting. His painting


Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1972) was sold at auction in 2018 for $ 90 million, a record sum for a work by a living artist. Hockney is considered to be one of the most prominent artists of the past century.

Nice article, lots of images



Catalogue

 

The catalogue Hockney – Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature explores the story behind Hockney’s imposing landscape paintings, comparing them to Van Gogh’s monumental landscapes. In a unique interview, Hockney recounts what inspires him, and how he shares Van Gogh’s passion for looking at the world.
  • Author: Hans den Hartog Jager. Available in Dutch and English, 176 pages, richly illustrated, € 29.95.
  • Van Gogh Museum in collaboration with Tijdsbeeld publishers.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Imaginary Travels

Bundeskunsthalle
16 November 2018 to 3 March 2019


 INTRODUCTION 

Today, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938) is deemed to be one of the most important German artists. As a pioneer of German Expressionism and co-founder of the Brücke[Bridge] group of artists, he found new means to give expression to the societal changes taking place during the early 20th century. 

Imaginary Travels traces Kirchner’s artistic development and his life-long search for the primal and authentic. By absorbing the widest range of influences, the artist arrived at a synthesis of art, life and work. This was mirrored both in his artistic output and in the environment—a Gesamtkunstwerk—that he created in which to live and work. Nonetheless, Kirchner never chose to travel to foreign lands. Instead, he spent his summers at the Moritzburg Lakes near Dresden or on the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn. 

In 1918, he went into self-imposed exile in Davos, Switzerland. Despite this, Kirchner’s oeuvre bears witness to the artist’s passionate encounter with non-European cultures. As a traveller in spirit, he studied ethnographic objects, in order to transmute them into a new formal language for use in his work. The photographs taken in some of his studios in Germany and Switzerland show exuberantly decorated, fascinating rooms furnished in a manner very unlike any bourgeois traditions then current. Kirchner made ‘exotic’ refuges for himself, that were simultaneously expressions of his creativity and sources of inspiration for him. He imagined exotic worlds into being in his art. 

The Brücke Artists’ Group 

Young Kirchner’s search for an ‘authentic’ and ‘primitive’ way of living, free of the accumulations and pressures of modern life, began in 1905. It was during that year, together with three other architecture students, Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Fritz Bleyl, that he co-founded the artists’ group, Brücke. Working in close collaboration, the four students quickly discovered a shared passion that would definitively shape their artistic practice: an intense interest in the material culture of non-European civilisations. Whilst Max Pechstein travelled throughout the South Pacific, Emil Nolde took part in an expedition to New Guinea, and Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff journeyed across Europe, Kirchner always remained in Germany and Switzerland. 

The Nude 


The depiction of the nude is a consistent theme through out Kirchner’s oeuvre. His fantasies about the ‘exotic’ and ‘alien’, above all, are mirrored in the numerous images of nudes in his early works, such as in  

 

Negro Dancer*. The way in which he depicts the nude figure and her relaxed nakedness is inspired by ideas integral to the Lebensreform(life reform) movement. This alternative lifestyle was aimed at recreating a unity between human and nature. The theme of the ‘bather’ recurs constantly in Kirchner’s early works. He was able to free his art from the Classical motif of the nude, as seen in academic painting, in the natural environment he found at the Moritzburg Lakes and on Fehmarn, where he captured in his work the natural, candid movements and nudity of the primal human state. From today's perspective, the child models Lina Franziska (Fränzi) Fehrmann and Marzella Albertine Sprentzel are in some cases depicted in unacceptable sexualised poses inappropriate to their age. 

The Nude


 

 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Women Bathing (Triptych – Centre Panel)
1915/1925
Oil on canvas
© Kirchner Museum Davos


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938), co-founder of the Brücke artists’ group, is widely regarded as the most important German Expressionist painter. One of the leitmotifs of his life and work is the quest for the ‘exotic’ and the primal, for far-off lands and cultures. Although he never ventured beyond the borders of Germany and Switzerland, his work bears witness to his passionate engagement with non-European cultures. Responding to social and artistic influences, he broke new ground, both personally and pictorially and created strikingly colourful images that conjure vividly imagined far-away worlds. 

Tracing the artist’s progress through Dresden, Berlin, Fehmarn and Davos, Imaginary Travels sheds light on Kirchner’s life and career from 1909 to his death in the Swiss mountains in 1938. A selection of international loans, above all from Switzerland and the United States, allows us to bring together motifs recurring throughout his oeuvre and to highlight the central importance Kirchner placed on working from the imagination. 

Thanks to the co-operation of the Dresden Museum of Ethnology, this exhibition is the first to trace Kirchner’s visits to the ethnographic collection and the profound influence it had on his work and creative practice. Sketchbooks, letters and historical photographs are presented in the context of important events in the history of non-European cultures – as Kirchner would have seen them around the turn of the century. 


The exhibition scrutinises Kirchner’s fervent enthusiasm for these cultures and addresses the complex issue of how to deal with the legacy of colonialism. Imaginary Travelspresents a comprehensive survey of Kirchner’s work after 1918, juxtaposing it with well-known early works of his time in Dresden and Berlin. 

Kirchner’s late work in Switzerland in the late 1920s singles him out as an uncompromising, progressive artist, ceaselessly trying to give adequate expression to a constantly changing world. The exhibition brings together some 220 works – 56 paintings, 72 prints, four sketchbooks, ten sculptures, five textiles, 45 photographs as well as 26 ethnographic objects from 40 collections in seven countries. 

Among the exhibits are numerous important and rarely shown works, such as the painting The Drinkerand Seated Girl (Fränzi Fehrmann), the bed Kirchner carved for his companion Erna Schilling and cast brass plaques from Benin. Rein Wolfs, director of the Bundeskunsthalle, sums up the exhibition, ‘Ernst Ludwig Kirchner is one of the most prominent German Expressionist artists. 

The exhibition Imaginary Travels showcases his work and also addresses some of the more controversial aspects of his oeuvre, chief among them Kirchner’s appropriation of non-European cultures and his idealisation of Alpine Swiss popular culture. 

The exhibition brings together numerous outstanding works, early as September 1915, Kirchner was temporarily discharged from military service due to mental illness on the intervention of his riding instructor, Professor Hans Fehr. The artist’s existential distress was mirrored in his self-portraits, and his photographs and portrait shots document his interrogation of this period of his life. In a letter to Gustav Schiefler dated 12 November 1916, he wrote, “The pressure of war, and superficiality run riot, weigh heavier than everything else. I always have the impression of a bloody carnival. How is it all supposed to end?” 

STAYS IN THE SANATORIUM 

The use of intoxicating substances had been widespread amongst literary figures and visual artists since the early 19th century. They were intended to overcome people’s inhibitions and increase their openness to new experiences. Aside from his alcohol and tobacco addictions, Kirchner suffered from insomnia, anxiety conditions and lung problems. His unchecked self-medication with morphine and Veronal, a barbiturate sleeping pill, and his lack of care for himself, due to sleep deprivation and excessive fasting, led to him staying on several occasions at sanatoria between 1915 and 1918. 

Discharged from the military in November 1915 with the express order that he should take himself off to a clinic to convalesce, from December that year, Kirchner started a seven-month stay at Oskar Kohnstamm’s private sanatorium in Königstein im Taunus. After threatening suicide in December 1916, he was admitted to the closed ward at privy councillor, Dr Edel’schen Sanatorium for Depressive and Nervous Diseases in Charlottenburg in Berlin. 

In mid-January 1917, Kirchner travelled to Davos for the first time and entrusted himself to the medical care of Dr Lucius Spengler and his wife Helene. A second stay followed in early May, during which Kirchner was put up in a cottage on the Stafelalp. From September, at the suggestion of his friend, Henry van de Velde, he spent 10 months at Dr Ludwig Binswanger’s Sanatorium Bellevue in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, prior to his final return to Davos in 1918. 

THE DAVOS YEARS 

Kirchner finally withdrew to the Swiss mountains in 1918. In this landscape, and these people and their folk art, he found the authenticity and ‘primitive’ way of life, which he had been seeking since his time in Dresden, until then believing that he would only find it in non-European cultures. The Swiss mountains became the canvas onto which he was able to project these longings. In 1918, he moved into a house named ‘In den Lärchen’, and in 1923, he acquired a property known as ‘Wildboden’. 

Kirchner’s intense encounter with his new home of Davos is most strikingly evident in the motifs of his paintings and woodcuts, and later in Lise Gujer’s woven carpets. He repeatedly drew upon visual subject matter from his immediate surroundings, linking peasant life and traditions with his expressive formal language and use of coloration. Many of the Alpine pictures can be definitively identified as Davos motifs, such as the Stafelalp, the town hall or the Wildboden.


THE STUDIO AS GESAMTKUNSTWERK

At the end of Kirchner’s first great period of creativity, between 1909 and 1914, his turn towards the imaginary really emerged. In 1911, he moved from Dresden to the metropolis of Berlin. He found painterly stimuli in the hurly-burly of the city and in like-minded people, with whom, in a Bohemian manner, he sought to create a fusion of art and the everyday. Although he consciously chose the metropolis as a place to live, he designed his studio as a refuge, a meeting place, a space to live and experiment and as somewhere to realise his unfettered lifestyle. With his friends, lovers and admirers, he created an alternative world countering the aesthetics of the Wilhelminian home. 

The ideas of the Lebensreform movement, which sought to unify human and nature, became their guiding principles and provided Kirchner with a foundation for his unconventional lifestyle. Inspired by African artworks, Kirchner increasingly depicted the human body by employing simple, stylised forms. The black, female body, whether of a living model or of a museum artefact, was often used by the artist as inspiration. He instrumentalised these women’s bodies, in order to give expression to the ‘alien’ and ‘exotic’ in his work. 

Kirchner accorded equal importance to his painting and sculptural work, and his paintings and sculpture were reciprocal in influencing one another. Works he had sculpted were often to be seen in his pictures. Non-European Influences The German Expressionists’ interest in non-European art was influenced, amongst other things, by the founding of German colonies in the South Pacific and in Africa and of new ethnographic museums. 

Kirchner was struck and inspired by his reading of publications on ethnographic subjects and by his visits to the ethno logical museum in Dresden. He was entranced by the reconstructions of Sudanese and Samoan villages, idealised and romanticised from a European perspective, which were staged by Carl Marquardt as part of his ethnographical expositions at the Zoological Gardens in Dresden. Without taking into consideration the heinous atrocities that were being perpetrated in the colonies, Kirchner believed that he was being given authentic insight into what were then called ‘primitive’ peoples, in what in today’s view would be considered contemptuous and inhuman shows. Here, he thought, he was able to view people from these far-off lands ‘as seen in nature’, without having to travel himself. 

The ethnographic collection in Dresden 

The European tradition for collecting artefacts from all over the world reaches back to the 16th century and the cabinets of curiosities and art amassed by princes and scholars. Studies of natural history and culture at the Electoral Court of Saxony in Dresden were based predominantly on the comprehensive collections of gifts from foreign guests and envoys. It was these collections, which would form the basis of a museum, founded in 1878, with an anthropological and ethnographical focus. 

Even in the early 20th century, the guiding principle of the museum was not only to document cultures from all corners of the world, but also to accord them due recognition. A conception of the Enlightenment, the notion that humankind and its cultural development were worthy of research did not automatically lead to an inhuman differentiation between cultures with the aim of asserting the cultural inferiority of other peoples. Nonetheless, elements of such a worldview increasingly came to the fore in connection with the economics of colonialism and the political nationalism of the time. 

The illegal acquisition of cultural artefacts*, such as the skilfully cast or carved sculpture from the Kingdom of Benin, was also enabled by the violent colonialist occupation of foreign countries. It is one of the paradoxes of history that this questionable appropriation of non-European artworks would mean that they would be accorded international attention and world heritage status, neither of which they might otherwise have achieved. It is precisely because elements of the collections were acquired within a context of illegality that, aside from its importance as a locus for unparalleled knowledge creation and as a repository of learning, the local and international significance of the ethnological museum also lies in its function as a site of critical reflection and responsible cultural exchange. 

* Commentary: today, the illegal appropriation of cultural artefacts is generally termed ‘looted art’. 



 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Garden Restaurant in Steglitz
1911/1912
Oil on canvas


LEBENSREFORM: FROM THE MORITZBURG LAKES TO FEHMARN 

Towards the end of the 19th century, many movements critical of civilisation were called into being, which are now grouped together under the heading of Lebensreform (reform of life). They sought to return society to a much more natural way of life, intended to free people from the consequences of industrialisation —the so-called ‘ravages of civilisation’. For the young artists of the Brücke, this movement offered instruction and a theoretical foundation, an opportunity for self-reflection, a means to intensify sensory perception, and a way of freeing themselves from the superficial, decorative culture of the Empire. The (naked) body in a natural setting was seen as the ideal way of being. Thus, the Moritzburg Lakes near Dresden offered them a perfect environment for their artistic production. It was there that their swiftly executed free-hand sketches were made. The worked-up oil paintings are characterised by a warm palette of colours and brisk brushstrokes. The imaginary was the central focus of this work; in his depictions of archaic scenes, Kirchner was attempting to realise his vision of a primal lifestyle.  

Moritzburg From 1904 onwards

Kirchner and his Brücke colleagues put their ideas about ‘primitive’ life to the test on their summer outings to the Moritzburg Lakes. With their bathing and naturism, liberated sexuality, archery and boomerang-throwing, they were seeking to draw nearer to the ideals of the Lebensreformmovement. What they experienced in doing so became the subject of numerous sketches and drawings. In a deliberate departure from academic drawing of the nude, the Brücke artists developed what they termed the “quarter-of-an-hour nude”. The models had to alter their postures after only fifteen minutes. The artists were not concerned to depict them in detail; it was more a question for them of swiftly capturing the models’ key characteristics and expressiveness. Because the young men wanted, above all, to record informal, natural movements they worked with their girlfriends and the child models, Lina Franziska (Fränzi) Fehrmann and Marzella Albertine Sprentzel. The women and children are shown frolicking around unclothed in the open air, sometimes even in sexualised poses inappropriate for the ages of the children. 

Fehmarn 

The outings into the open air, away from urban life and the familiar surroundings of the studio, were an enormous spur to Kirchner’s creative drive. After his first visit to the island of Fehmarn in 1908, he returned in 1912. He went to Staberhuk, in the south-eastern part of the island, where he took up residence in the attic room belonging to the lighthouse keeper, Mr Lüthmann. For the artist, these stays on the island were a natural extension of his search for a ‘primitive’ way of living. In the Fehmarn drawings, one can now see how he was able to capture in his confident lines, the relaxed nature of the bathing scenes and the undulating forms of the landscape of the bay. 

Kirchner’s predilection for exoticising the bleak Baltic Sea landscape is evident in his paintings. A jungle-like wood can be seen in  

 
Colby CollegeMuseum of Art  (Waterville, Maine)1912-1913

1


Laburnum Tree, and  

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Fehmarn dunes with bathers under Japanese umbrellas

 Fehmarn Dunes With Bathers Under Japanese Umbrellas. Museum: Kirchner Museum Davos.

Dunes on Fehmarn with Bathers under Japanese Umbrellas depicts a bathing scene typical of Kirchner—both are fantastical landscapes that invite the viewer to explore further. Many years later, Kirchner recalled that he often thought about his ‘earthly paradise’, mentioning it in letters to his friends and supporters. 

‘BLOODY CARNIVAL’ 

The outbreak of the First World War forced Kirchner and Erna to end their last summer on Fehmarn, which was declared a strategically important zone. In 1915, Kirchner volunteered “unwillingly” for military service—in the hope of thus being able to influence where he was posted. He was conscripted to serve with the Mansfeld Field Artillery in Halle an der Saale. His early attraction to the military life gave way to anxiety and a strongly held opposition to the war. 

As early as September 1915, Kirchner was temporarily discharged from military service due to mental illness on the intervention of his riding instructor, Professor Hans Fehr. The artist’s existential distress was mirrored in his self-portraits, and his photographs and portrait shots document his interrogation of this period of his life. In a letter to Gustav Schiefler dated 12 November 1916, he wrote, “The pressure of war, and superficiality run riot, weigh heavier than everything else. I always have the impression of a bloody carnival. How is it all supposed to end?” 

Bloody Carnival


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
The Patient’s Bath
1917
Oil on cardboard
Private collection


STAYS IN THE SANATORIUM 

The use of intoxicating substances had been widespread amongst literary figures and visual artists since the early 19th century. They were intended to overcome people’s inhibitions and increase their openness to new experiences. Aside from his alcohol and tobacco addictions, Kirchner suffered from insomnia, anxiety conditions and lung problems. His unchecked self-medication with morphine and Veronal, a barbiturate sleeping pill, and his lack of care for himself, due to sleep deprivation and excessive fasting, led to him staying on several occasions at sanatoria between 1915 and 1918. 

Discharged from the military in November 1915 with the express order that he should take himself off to a clinic to convalesce, from December that year, Kirchner started a seven-month stay at Oskar Kohnstamm’s private sanatorium in Königstein im Taunus. 

After threatening suicide in December 1916, he was admitted to the closed ward at privy councillor, Dr Edel’schen Sanatorium for Depressive and Nervous Diseases in Charlottenburg in Berlin. In mid-January 1917, Kirchner travelled to Davos for the first time and entrusted himself to the medical care of Dr Lucius Spengler and his wife Helene. A second stay followed in early May, during which Kirchner was put up in a cottage on the Stafelalp. From September, at the suggestion of his friend, Henry van de Velde, he spent 10 months at Dr Ludwig Binswanger’s Sanatorium Bellevue in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, prior to his final return to Davos in 1918. 

THE DAVOS YEARS 

Kirchner finally withdrew to the Swiss mountains in 1918. In this landscape, and these people and their folk art, he found the authenticity and ‘primitive’ way of life, which he had been seeking since his time in Dresden, until then believing that he would only find it in non-European cultures. The Swiss mountains became the canvas onto which he was able to project these longings. In 1918, he moved into a house named ‘In den Lärchen’, and in 1923, he acquired a property known as ‘Wildboden’. Kirchner’s intense encounter with his new home of Davos is most strikingly evident in the motifs of his paintings and woodcuts, and later in Lise Gujer’s woven carpets. He repeatedly drew upon visual subject matter from his immediate surroundings, linking peasant life and traditions with his expressive formal language and use of coloration. Many of the Alpine pictures can be definitively identified as Davos motifs, such as the Stafelalp, the town hall or the Wildboden. 

The Davos years

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Mandolin Player
1921
oil on canvas
© Kirchner Museum Davos,
photo: Kirchner Museum Davos, Jakob Jägli


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Sertig Valley in Autumn
1925/1926
Oil on canvas
© Kirchner Museum Davos



 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Life in the Alps, Triptych
1917–1919
Oil on canvas
© Kirchner Museum Davos, Jakob Jägli

 

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Elderly Alpine Herdsman Wearing a Black Hat – Kaspar Cadiepolt
1919
Woodcut
© Kirchner Museum Davos



Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Two Goats
1919
Woodcut
© Kirchner Museum Davos,
photo Stephan Bösch


 

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
The Three Old Women
1925/1926
Oil on canvas
© Kirchner Museum Davos



THE RENEWAL OF THE STUDIO AS GESAMTKUNSTWERK 

Kirchner focused on the décor of his home in Davos, continuing the tradition he had created in his studios in Dresden and Berlin. His living room is shown as a refuge in his images. He repeatedly portrays its interior, which featured his own paintings, decorative drapery, carpets and sculptures, thus providing insight into his living space for later researchers. Nonetheless, the way in which he decorated his immediate surroundings underwent a marked development. It no longer related just to the internal space of his home, but also had an influence on its exterior appearance. 

Kirchner carved the monumental sculptures, Adam and Eve, which flanked the door to his house, for instance, in native Swiss stone pine or larch wood. These figures are immortalised in the photograph, Nina Hard in front of the Entrance to the House ‘In den Lärchen’
 


and in the painting, Before Sunrise

The renewal of the studio as Gesamtkunstwerk



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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Mountain Studio
1937
Oil on canvas
© Kirchner Museum Davos


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner und Lise Gujer 

Kirchner’s fondness for textile art played an important role even when he was decorating his studio in Dresden. In Davos, he made the acquaintance of the Swiss weaver, Lise Gujer, who went on to fabricate carpets and wall-hangings according to his designs. The collaboration between Kirchner and Gujer is presumed to have begun around 1922 and it continued until the end of his life. They produced work in magnificent colours, the technique of weaving going on to have a long-term influence on Kirchner’s painting. It contributed significantly to his ‘New Style’. 

Thanks to his interest in textiles for use in the home, Kirchner was ultimately able to facilitate the exhibition, and the sale under the name of Lise Gujer, of these woven works. He acted in the role of an intermediary, and vehemently disputed, despite the fact that the designs were his, that he was the creator of the textiles. As an independent artist, Gujer took the lead from Kirchner’s world of forms and ideas and rendered his artistic vocabulary via the medium of her work, amplifying it by employing her own stylistic devices. A close confidante of Kirchner’s, she safely stored his original sketches and templates, and his Davos diary, for posterity. 

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Lise Gujer


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Erna Schilling
Erna and Nina Hard at the House 'In den Lärchen'
1921
embroidery
E. W. K., Bern / Davos


THE ‘NEW STYLE’ 

Kirchner’s predilection for monumental panoramas, already evident in his landscape painting of the 1920s, was the preparatory ground for his later planar style. This shift in his work originated in the textile works designed by Kirchner and executed by Lise Gujer. However, it also displayed influences drawn from Picasso’s Surrealist work, which Kirchner, always well-informed, saw at the Kunsthaus Zürich in 1932. This departure, which the artist himself termed his ‘new style’, was characterised by precise fields of colour, geometric compositions and stylised forms. 

Powerful, prominent lines and light, shadow and movement depicted in a symbiotic unity represented Kirchner’s turning away from Expressionism and towards complex planar compositions. The significance of his immediate life and experiences also took second place during this new phase. Instead of the Davos motifs and its bucolic world, Kirchner’s work again depicted urban scenes. From his Davos home, he no longer painted his surroundings alone, but also drew on his memories of journeys to Frankfurt am Main, Dresden and Berlin during the winter of 1925–26. 

The ‘New Style’



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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Department Store in the Rain
1926/1927
Oil on canvas
© Kirchner Museum Davos


 
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Pair of Acrobats
1932–1933
Oil on canvas
© Kirchner Museum Davos, Jakob Jägli

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Three Nudes in the Woods
1933
Woodcut
© Kirchner Museum Davos,
photo: Kirchner Museum Davos