Category Archives: Exhibition

Featured Exhibition: Thoughts on Portraiture, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 3 August–18 November 2019

A free one-room show which draws on Birmingham’s collection of modern and contemporary art to explore how artists have used a wide range of styles and imagery to interpret complex human emotion and experiences. The display is centred around the sculpted polychrome group Man and His Sheep (1989) by the Brazilian-born artist Ana Maria Pacheco, which has not been on show for over five years. The striking installation consists of eight lifelike carved wooden figures arranged in a procession. Each imposing figure is carved from a single piece of limewood then painted and waxed to give a startling lifelike appearance, enhanced by their onyx eyes and acrylic teeth, which add a somewhat sinister expression. Pacheco’s oil painting In Illo Tempore I (1994) is also on display. The display also includes two Picasso etchings from the Vollard Suite. Winged Bull Watched by Four Children (1934) shows a monstrous mythological beast, whilst Portrait of Vollard (1937) uses lighter and darker shades to depict different characteristics of Ambroise Vollard, the art dealer who commissioned the Suite of prints. For conservation reasons neither of these works on paper are likely to be on display again soon. Other artists whose portraits are featured in the exhibition include a self-portrait by the Birmingham-born David Bomberg and Frank Auerbach’s etching of his friend the art historian Michael Podro.
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Featured Exhibition: ‘Frente a Frente. Dos visiones fotográficas de la Guerra Civil. Constantino Suárez y Florentino López “Floro”‘, Museo Nacional de Antropología, Madrid, until 29 September 2019

At the start of the civil war, Constantino Suárez was a 37-year old professional photographer. 36-year-old Florentino López, known as Floro, owned a shop selling groceries, typewriters, and phtographic material. The two never met, yet between July 1936 and October 1937 both portrayed the conflict from the perspective of their different cities—Gijón y Oviedo—and sides—Suárez was active on the republican front, while López lived in a besieged city always controlled by the Nationalist rebels. Entitled ‘Frente a Frente’, a play of words on the ambiguity between ‘el frente’, the front, and ‘la frente’, the forhead, this exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Antropología presents photographs in the collection of the Museum of the Asturian People (Gijón), focusing on the similarity of subject rather than on differences in politics and outcome.

Eighty years have passed since the end of Spain’s most recent Civil War (1936–1939), but its traumatic legacy continues to cast a long shadow over the lives of generations of Spaniards. The dictatorship of Francisco Franco kept the wounds of the conflict open and raw. In the wars that raged across Europe from the 1930s onwards, the armies on the battlefield fought alongside the civilian population, which unfortunately took centre stage as the greatest victim of the violent conflicts. This exhibition shows different aspects of life during wartime in Asturias, among both civilians and combatants, between July 1936 and October 1937, when the fall of Gijón marked the definitive defeat of the Republican Northern Front. The images captured by these two photographers are similar in ways that transcend their attachment to the two opposing sides in the war. Both depicted the same society caught up in conflict. What they found was something in common: the same destruction, the same pain, the same suffering, but also the same wish to have life go on despite it all.

Click here for an article on the exhibition, published on 23 July in El País.

Click here for the exhibition website and here for a booklet.

Featured Exhibition: ‘Art and Empire: The Golden Age of Spain’, The San Diego Museum of Art, CA, until 2 September 2019

The neo-plateresque façade of the museum, begun in 1924 and designed by William Templeton Johnson and Robert W. Snyder, with sculptures by Chris Muelle

This new exhibition features a diverse selection of more than 100 outstanding works produced by leading artists from Spain and its global territories.

Spain’s Golden Age may be defined as the extraordinary moment when the visual arts, architecture, literature, and music all reached unprecedented heights.

Art & Empire: The Golden Age of Spain is the first exhibition in the United States to expand the notion of “Golden Age” to include the Hispanic world beyond the shores of the Iberian Peninsula. Such far-flung Spanish-controlled centers as Antwerp, Naples, Mexico, Lima, and the Philippines are represented by paintings, sculpture and decorative arts of astounding quality and variety from the pivotal years of about 1660 to 1750.

Artists featured in the exhibition include Diego Velázquez, Peter Paul Rubens, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Francisco de Zurbarán, Jusepe de Ribera, El Greco, Juan de Valdés Leal, Juan Sánchez Cotán, and many more. This exhibition also marks the first time in the Museum’s history that all five of the Spanish masters represented on the Museum’s building façade —Velázquez, Murillo, Zurbarán, Ribera and El Greco— will be shown together at the Museum.

Also on display is a contemporary response to Art and Empire: The Golden Age of Spain, featuring a group of 12 encaustic-on-canvas “portraits” of Christ’s disciples by contemporary Spanish artist José-María Cano.

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Featured Ehixibition: ‘Urban Impulses. Latin American Photography from 1959 to 2017’, The Photographer’s Gallery, London, until 6 October 2019

Fernando Bedoya, Pinochet, 1987

Exhibition of more than 200 photographs by twentieth-century Latin American artists, selected from the extensive holdings of the London and Morocco-based collectors Leticia and Stanislas Poniatowski. The exhibition was first shown at the Rencontres d’Arles festival 2017. Among the photographs are monochrome works by the contemporary Mexican photographer Carlos Somonte, who is a lifelong friend and colleague of the film director Alfonso Cuarón, and covered the shoot of Cuarón’s black and white Oscar-winning film Roma.

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Featured Exhibition: ‘Weavers of the Clouds. Textiles from Peru’, The Fashion and Textile Museum, London, until 8 Sep 2019

Weavers of the Clouds. Textiles from Peru, The Fashion and Textile Museum, 21 June – 8 Sep 2019, brings the captivating art and textiles of Peru to the UK, showcasing some of the world’s oldest and most colourful designs. The exhibition features rarely seen objects from private collections and national museums, including full costumes, tapestries, paintings, photographs, illustrations and accessories. It examines the vibrant applied crafts, heritage and traditions of Peru, celebrating the culture and customs of the artisan and their influence on design, fashion and beyond. Each geographical region is associated with a different technique or application; the exhibition will feature weaving from the Central Highlands, felting created in the North, floral embroidery produced in Ayacucho in the South West, knitwear originating in the Highlands and machine embroidery from the Colca Valley. Exhibition highlights include a 16th-century Quipu – knotted fibres used by the Incas as a form of communication – and a four cornered hat, dating from 600 AD. A rare pre-Hispanic tunic created in orange, yellow and blue macaw feathers is displayed alongside a sequined waistcoat emblazoned with birds and flowers and a Shipibo costume from the Amazon Rainforest, embroidered to reflect the astrological map. Tapestries and weaving from a private collection include a ceremonial tunic created using a Scaffold weave; one of the most unusual weaving techniques in the world, previously existing only in the Andean region of South America. Despite dating back to 800 AD, the influence of these techniques can be seen across hundreds of years; in particular in the works of Bauhaus designers Gunta Stölzl and Anni Albers. 

The costumes and textiles on display are complemented by a selection of varied and engaging photographs by Marta Tucci, Max Milligan and Sebastian Castaneda Vita. Also on display are postcards by influential photographer Martin Chambi. Chambi was one of the earliest known indigenous Latin American photographers, whose black and white postcards, featuring images of the indigenous people of Cuzco and their costumes, helped to disseminate knowledge of Peru in the 20th Century. Postcards were an important part of Chambi’s practice; a selection of examples, dating from the 1930s, are being presented in re-creation of his iconic studio.

The Fashion and Textile Museum is a contemporary fashion museum in Bermondsey, London. Founded by British designer Zandra Rhodes in 2003, the museum is part of the Newham College of Further Education, and is open Tuesday-Sunday.

Rarely seen paintings by Velázquez and Ribera on view at Sotheby’s, 29 June–2 July 2019

Two important Spanish paintings will be on view at Sotheby’s in the days preceding the Old Masters Evening Sale on 3 July.

The sale will feature a portrait of Donna Olimpia Maidalchini Pamphilj (1591–1657) likely painted by Velázquez during his second roman period. Donna Olimpia was an enormously influential figure at the court of pope Innocent X, sometimes referred to in sources as the ‘Papessa’ (lady pope). In the collection of Cardinal Pompeo Aldrovandi by 1724, the painting was later misattributed to the Dutch school and remained unseen for several years. Unusually for a work of this date, the painting’s commission is recorded in great detail in a letter written by Francesco Gualenghi, a resident of Modena living in Rome, to Francesco I d’Este, Duke of Modena (1610–1658) on 13 July 1650: ‘On Monday Sra Donna Olimpia was occupied all day with various ladies…in fact I mean that after lunch on Monday she allowed for her portrait to be painted by a very talented Spanish painter, who is said to be chamberlain to the King of Spain.’

Ribera’s celebrated painting A Girl with a Tambourine will also be offered in the sale. The work is thought to be a personification of the sense of hearing, and to have formed part of a lost series dedicated to the five senses. It is likely a pendant to Laughing drinker with a bottle, once in the Spanish royal collection. While Ribera painted several personifications of the sense of hearing, this is his only signed representation of the subject. The artist’s allegories of the senses are novel in their composition, as he focused on ragged peasants and vivid, everyday figures rather than idealised beauty. This painting is a particularly striking example of Ribera’s ability to capture expression with empathy and skill.

Opens Today: Balenciaga and Spanish Painting, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, until 22 September 2019

Francisco de Zurbarán
Saint Casilda, ca. 1635
Oil on canvas. 171 x 107 cm
© Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

In the summer of 2019 the museum is presenting an exhibition that connects the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga, the most admired and influential fashion designer of all time, with the tradition of 16th– to 20th-century Spanish painting.

References to Spanish art and culture are a recurring presence in Balenciaga’s work. The simple, minimalist lines of religious habits or the architectural volume of their cloth are to be found in many of his designs. The billowing train of a flamenco dancer’s dress echoed in the flounces on some dresses, the glinting reflections on a bullfighter’s suit, brilliantly conveyed in the sequin embroidery on a bolero jacket, and the aesthetic of Habsburg court dress echoed in black velvets embellished with jet trim in some creations are just a few examples. Balenciaga constantly studied the history of art and made use of these influences, expressed through his own powerful and unique style, throughout his career, including his most avant-garde period, reviving historic garments and reinterpreting them in a strikingly modern manner.

The exhibition, curated by Eloy Martínez de la Pera, will include a carefully-selected group of paintings loaned from private Spanish collections and public museums, including the Museo Nacional del Prado and the museums of Fine Arts of Seville, Valencia and Bilbao. They will be accompanied by a group of important creations by Balenciaga, some of them never previously exhibited, loaned from national and international museums including the Museo Balenciaga in Guetaria, the Museo del Traje in Madrid and other international institutions and private collections.

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