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.

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Some snapshots and memories of ARTES’ Sorolla Symposium

In collaboration with The Embassy of Spain, The Instituto Cervantes and the National Gallery, ARTES organised a symposium dedicated to the painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863–1923), currently celebrated in the exhibition Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light at the National Gallery (until 7 July). Speakers included two ARTES committee members, Gail Turner and Akemi Herráez, as well as museum directors and art historians from Spain and the UK. Follow the link below for some images and impressions of a day to remember.

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.

Click here for more information.

Lunchtime talk: Tobias Capwell, ‘Bermejo and the armour of an archangel’, Sainsbury Wing lecture theatre, National Gallery, London, 24 June 2019, 1–1.45 pm

Bartolomé Bermejo, ‘Saint Michael Triumphs over the Devil’ (detail), 1468 © The National Gallery, London

What is conveyed by the armour in Bermejo’s Saint Michael Triumphs over the Devil?

In this talk, Tobias Capwell reveals how Renaissance artists used the rich imagery of arms and armour to communicate messages about power and faith.

Tobias Capwell is Curator of Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection in London, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and an internationally acknowledged expert on Medieval and Renaissance weapons.

Please click here for more information.

Featured Exhibition: Paula Rego. Obedience and Defiance, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes (until 22 September); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (23 November 2019–19 April 2020); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (Spring 2020)

Paula Rego, Angel, 1998. Ostrich Arts Limited. Copyright Paula Rego, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art.

Obedience and Defiance focuses on political and feminist themes and includes previously unseen paintings and works on paper from the artist’s family and close friends, which reflect Rego’s perspective as a woman immersed in urgent social issues and current affairs. The selection of works focuses on the moral challenges to humanity, particularly in the face of violence, gender discrimination and political tyranny. There are paintings and etchings related to children sold into slavery in North Africa (1996–98), abortion (1998–2000) and female genital mutilation (from 2009). Many of the images begin with the artist’s Portuguese roots and childhood experiences or respond to current affairs. This will be the first ever exhibition in Britain to present the paintings Rego made in the 1960s during the regime of the dictator Salazar.

Curated by the former director of London’s Whitechapel Gallery, Catherine Lampert, and organised by MK Gallery (Milton Keynes), the exhibition includes over 80 works. A major new publication will accompany the exhibition with texts by curator Catherine Lampert and the American writer and novelist Kate Zambreno, published by ART/BOOKS. Touring to Edinburgh and Dublin, the exhibition will be the first ever retrospective of Rego’s work in Scotland and Ireland.


Click here for more information on the exhibition in its current location.

Online Resources from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and MoMA

Since 2016, MoMA and the Guggenheim Museum have worked on digitising exhibition catalogues and other material related to their displays and collections.

MoMA’s ‘Exhibition History‘ page offers access to photographs, interpretation, checklists and other material for 4,918 exhibitions from the museum’s founding in 1929 to the present. ARTES members may be particularly interested to discover a 1931 exhibition dedicated to Diego Rivera, the show American Sources of Modern Art (Aztec, Mayan, Incan) of 1933, the ground-breaking Cubism and Abstract Art of 1936, the 1939 show Picasso: Forty years of his art and exhibitions dedicated to the Brazilian artist Candido Portinari and to Joan Miró in 1940. The archive offers a way to explore the museum’s history during its closure for refurbishment and redisplay (re-opens October 21).

On archive.org, art lovers and researchers can read and download more than 200 catalogues published by the Guggenheim Museum. Highlights include the exhibition Tauromaquia (Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, Venice, 1985), Berriaren tradizioa: Guggenheim bildumako maisulanak, 1945–1990 (Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 1995), and The Aztec Empire (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2004).