Tag Archives: Painting

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: ‘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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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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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.

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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.

Opens Today: Bartolomé Bermejo: Master of the Spanish Renaissance, National Gallery, London, until 29 September 2019

bjo_desktopbannerBermejo is one of the greatest Spanish artists of the second half of the 15th century.

This exhibition, in the National Gallery’s Room 1, brings two of his masterpieces: the triptych of the ‘Madonna of Montserrat’ from the cathedral at Acqui Terme, Alessandria (Italy) and the ‘Piedad Desplà’ from Barcelona Cathedral, to the UK for the first time.

In addition, The National Gallery’s own painting by Bermejo, the magnificent ‘Saint Michael Triumphs over the Devil‘, returns on display following its recent conservation, revealing the painting’s exquisite details and the extent of Bermejo’s artistry.

Click here for more information, and click here for ARTES’ Study Morning in the exhibiton (27 June 2019).