Category: Exhibitions

Curate an Exhibition with ArtUK

May 18 2020

Image of Curate an Exhibition with ArtUK

Picture: ArtUK

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

ArtUK has launched an online platform for users to 'curate' their own virtual exhibitions with art works from the public collection. After you have selected your pictures you can arrange them in any way you wish with fancy blurbs and introductory pieces etc. Your results will then be shared with other users online.

Sounds like a very creative way to spend a few hours during these uncertain times.

Update - Bendor adds that he's had a go already, with an assembly of paintings that feature cheese. Just what the world needs right now. 

Kauffman Show Cancelled

April 28 2020

Image of Kauffman Show Cancelled

Picture: The Royal Academy

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Royal Academy have taken the 'difficult decision' to cancel their upcoming show on the painter Angelica Kauffman RA (1741-1807). This exhibition was due to run from 27 June - 20 September 2020. The RA's upcoming Cezanne expo has been shelved too. It seems, however, that the modern performance artist Marina Abramović's exhibition has been rescheduled from 2020 till autumn 2021. A shame the same couldn't be done with Kauffman's, but I'm sure they had their reasons.

Fontainebleau cancels Autumn Exhibition

April 24 2020

Image of Fontainebleau cancels Autumn Exhibition

Picture: Wikipedia Commons

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

La Tribune de L'Art has reported on the sad news that the Château de Fontainebleau has cancelled their upcoming exhibition on the Art of the Celebrations of the Valois Court (due to open in September 2020). This exhibition was set to be a very big affair, with many dispersed works being sourced and reunited from major museums across the world (including this marvellous tapestry from the Uffizi in Florence).

Although the coronavirus has played its part, the large deficit incurred due to closures has also been blamed for causing the cancellation.

As our current crisis continues, it seems very likely that many important future exhibitions might be called off. This tragic on many levels, including the vast amount of time these spectacles take to prepare. Exactly when will museum-goers feel safe enough to pack into rooms again to enjoy these cultural marvels I wonder?


Cranach at Compton Verney

April 18 2020

Image of Cranach at Compton Verney

Picture: Compton Verney

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Another of the recent exhibitions cut short by the virus was Compton Verney's excellent Cranach: Artist and Innovator. Fortunately, the gallery have uploaded a rather good video tour onto their website (which I can't upload directly here unfortunately). On the same page you'll have access to a recorded conversation with the curators organised by the Colnaghi Foundation.

Another exhibition I wish I had got to before it closed was The Foundling Museum's Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media curated by Karen Hearn. Curator and writer Emma Shepley has posted her review of the exhibition on Twitter.


Black in Rembrandt's Time

April 16 2020

Video: The Rembrandt House Museum via YouTube

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam have posted a mini documentary on their recent exhibition entitled 'Black in Rembrandt's Time'. It was due to run to 31 May 2020. You'll have to switch on the English subtitles if you don't understand Dutch.

British Baroque: Power and Illusion

April 7 2020

Image of British Baroque: Power and Illusion

Picture: Tate via. The National Trust

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Tate’s outstanding new exhibition British Baroque: Power and Illusion was one of the recent casualties of the corona virus lockdown. Although the show was due to run until 19th April 2020, it seems unlikely that it will reopen before any lockdown is lifted. This is an enormous shame, as all images I have seen of it make it appear like a true feast for the eyes. 

One of the most intriguing projects associated with the exhibition was the restoration the famous eight Petworth ‘Beauties’. These seven full length paintings by Michael Dahl, and one by Godfrey Kneller respectively, were reduced in size by the 3rd Earl of Egremont in the 1820s. The National Trust, who now care for the paintings, decided to embark on an ambitious programme for their restoration. Fortunately, the Courtauld Institute have shared a lecture recently given by Richard Ashbourne and Katya Belaia of the National Trust detailing this fascinating work.

If like me you didn’t get the chance to see the exhibition before the Tate shut its doors, then there is some consolation to be had. Due to the power of social media, the exhibition’s AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award researcher Amy Lim has been posting daily virtual tours of each room via her Twitter page. These also include behind the scenes images that you wouldn’t usually get to see. Well worth flicking through if you enjoy sumptuous baroque works of art as much as I do.

Curator Talk - Titian: Love, Desire, Death

April 2 2020

Video: The National Gallery via. Facebook

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz

The current lock down of museums across the world has led to some wonderful examples of how social media can help bring art into peoples homes through sight and sound.

Over the next weeks we'll share lots of the fantastic virtual tours that museums and galleries are uploading to Youtube and other platforms.

First off, and related to the previous post, here is Italian paintings curator Mattias Wivel introducing the National Gallery's Titian exhibition. Although it was posted before the lockdown, it is still an excellent introduction to this significant reunion of Old Master Paintings.

BBC2 - Titian Behind Closed Doors

April 2 2020

Image of BBC2 - Titian Behind Closed Doors

Picture: BBC

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz

Exciting news for UK television licence fee holders that the BBC has made a special hour long programme celebrating the National Gallery’s important and historic exhibition Titian: Love, Desire, Death.

A feat of curatorial engineering, this exhibition reunites for the first time in four centuries six works commissioned from Titian by the future King Philip II of Spain. The Venetian painter’s ‘poesies’ inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses are considered amongst his most original works, yet were dispersed during his lifetime. Most notably, the Wallace Collection had only recently ‘reinterpreted’ their 1897 bequest ruling so that their Perseus and Andromeda could be part of the show.

The exhibition opened to the public on 16th March, but had to close just two days later as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19. The National Gallery on Trafalgar Square was one of the last museums to close its doors, with the Vatican Museums having closed on 8th March, the Prado on 12th March and the Louvre on 13th March.

The gallery’s website explains that the current plan is for the exhibition to reopen when the rest of the gallery does on 4th May. This, we might imagine, will be subject to developments and advice from the government. The exhibition is due to run in London until 14th June 2020, after which it will travel to Edinburgh, Madrid and Boston.

The programme entitled Titian - Behind Closed Doors will air on BBC Two on Saturday 4th April 2020 at 21.45 (GMT).

The programme will be available on BBC IPlayer after the show is broadcast (click here for the link).

'Bright Souls'

June 14 2019

Image of 'Bright Souls'

Picture: Lyon & Turnbull

Please accept my further apologies for the lack of news. I've been tied up finishing the latest series of 'Britain's Lost Masterpieces', and writing the catalogue for a new exhibition I'm curating on the first female British artists. They are Joan Carlile, Mary Beale and Anne Killigrew.

The exhibition is called 'Bright Souls; the Forgotten Story of Britain's First Female Artists', and will be at Lyon & Turnbull's London gallery (on Connaught Street) from 24th June to 6th July. It would be great to see some of you there. It's the first time anyone has shown works by these three artists together, and the first exhibition to look more broadly at Joan Carlile and Anne Killigrew. We'll have a catalogue, and some newly discovered paintings. More details here.

The title comes from John Dryden's Ode to Anne Killigrew after her death in 1685 at the age of 25;

Thus nothing to her Genius was deny'd,

But like a Ball of Fire the further thrown,

Still with a greater Blaze she shone,

And her bright Soul broke out on ev'ry side.

Elizabethan Miniatures

April 17 2019

Secrets and symbols part 1 from National Portrait Gallery on Vimeo.

Video: National Portrait Gallery

It's all go for Elizabethan portrait miniatures at the moment; an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London (till 19th May), and a new biography of Nicholas Hilliard by Elizabeth Goldring. In Apollo, Christina Faraday examines their purpose and appeal:

Above all else, it was limning’s ability to capture a likeness directly and vividly that made it ‘the perfection of art’ for so many Elizabethans. This derived partly from the way in which a miniature was made. Unlike large-scale oil paintings, which were often painted over the course of several months from preparatory sketches or face-patterns, limnings were made almost entirely in the presence of the sitter. In his Treatise, Hilliard suggests ways to make the sitting as enjoyable and comfortable as possible: ‘sweet odours comfort the brain and open the understanding, augmenting the delight in limning, discreet talk or reading, quiet mirth or music offend not, but shorten the time, and quicken the spirit both in the drawer, and he which is drawn’. Hilliard does not explicitly say how many sittings were needed, but the later miniaturist Edward Norgate, who knew Hilliard’s methods, recommends three sittings of several hours each, with jewels and costumes finished in between, in the artist’s own time. The presence of the sitter was vital to the finished miniature’s vividness, because it allowed the artist to ‘catch those lovely graces, witty smilings, and those stolen glances which suddenly like lightning pass and another Countenance takes place’, as Hilliard writes in the Treatise. He stresses the speed at which the artist had to work, to ‘catch’ an expression which passed ‘like lightning’, demonstrating the immediate transfer of the person’s appearance to vellum, carrying with it the power of their presence.

A lost Leonardo sculpture in London?

March 11 2019

Video: via You Tube

Research for a new exhibition on Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence has raised the fascinating possibility that a small terracotta sculpture in the V&A previously attributed to Antonio Rossellino is in fact by Leonardo da Vinci. If so, it would be the only known, surviving sculpture by him. The attribution has been proposed by Francesco Caglioti, and is supported by Carmen Bambach of the Met.

A video preview of the exhibition is above, with the terracotta appearing about halfway through. More on the attribution here. A link to the exhibition is here. The V&A's online catalogue still gives the attribution as Rossellino (readers of my Art Newspaper column may know that the V&A doesn't always leap enthusiastically on new attributions, if they are proposed by outsiders - though to be fair this is common in major museums, which can get very territorial). If you click on the download button and promise not to be naughty with the V&A's images, you can access a number of high resolution photos. Let's hope that the V&A are preparing to capitalise on the news by putting the sculpture on display as soon as it gets back from Florence in July. 

Leonardo's UK tour

February 21 2019

Video: Royal Collection

Here's a video from the Royal Collection on their excellent nationwide drawing exhibition; most of us in the UK are within about 30 miles of a Leonardo drawing at the moment. For more details, see here

Van Dyck goes to Hungary

February 21 2019

Image of Van Dyck goes to Hungary

Picture: Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

The full-length portrait of Mary Stuart by Van Dyck sold at Christie's in London last year for £5.8m has been acquired by the Szépművészeti Múzeum, the Museum of Fine Arts, in Budapest. And look at this - they've not only put the acquisition on their website, but it's there with good images, with an explanatory note, and an English translation. Excellent museum practice from start to finish!

The Burlington and Brexit

February 18 2019

Image of The Burlington and Brexit

Picture: Burlington Magazine

In an editorial covering the National Portrait Gallery's new exhibition on Nicholas Hilliard (who, while of course British, spent many years in Europe), the Burlington Magazine offers some thoughts on Brexit - and sounds a bit Leave-y in the process:

His [Hilliard's0 anniversary could therefore hardly be timelier, coinciding as it does with the United Kingdom’s struggle to reshape its relationship with Europe. One reason why it is helpful to reflect on the way that art of the past might relate to ideas of British identity is that contemporary artists have played such a disappointing part in the debates that have followed the referendum. It is not surprising that artists overwhelmingly wish that the vote had gone the other way, but their response has tended to confirm a belief that ‘remainers’ are experiencing a prolonged period of post-traumatic stress, evident in anger and denial. It is perhaps unfair to single out Anish Kapoor, but his comments on last month’s crushing parliamentary defeat of Theresa May’s Brexit proposals sum up why this debate is so stuck. Brexit, he claims, ‘seems to have brought out the very worst in us – Britain is more intolerant, more xenophobic, more insular than I have known it to be since the 1970s’.5

The problem about such remarks is that there is no attempt to see the issue from the point of view of those who think differently. Those who voted in favour of leaving the European Union are likely to regard such an attitude by a wealthy and successful artist as just another example of entitlement and privilege. They might also reflect that the diversity that is constantly held up as an ideal in the spaces of contemporary art does not seem to include diversity of political opinion. But Kapoor is right to say also that ‘it is our duty as citizens to find ways to come together and overcome the deeply sad and disorienting effects of Brexit’. How this is to be done is a question that should be asked most forcefully of those who when asked why they voted leave, reply that they want to leave the European Union, not Europe. How do they propose to reinforce Britain’s European identity? If quiet reflection on how to advance beyond this impasse is wanted, two good places for the historically minded to start are the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition and Goldring’s book.

Salvator Mundi & the Louvre

February 17 2019

Image of Salvator Mundi & the Louvre

Picture: via Christie's

The latest story to say Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi isn't by Salvator Mundi has been doing the rounds on social media; this time with the headline (in The Sunday Telegraph) saying that the Louvre 'would not show the painting' in its forthcoming Leonardo exhibition. The story is based on the opinion of one Jacques Franck:

[...] who has been a consultant to the Louvre on Leonardo restoration projects, told the Sunday Telegraph that politicians at the highest levels and Louvre staff, “know that the Salvator Mundi isn’t a Leonardo”.

He spoke of the growing realisation that France cannot afford the “humiliation” of its world-class museum displaying a painting when there are serious questions about it. He is among those who believe that it was painted primarily by one of Leonardo’s studio assistants.

And yet the story ends with confirmation that the Louvre has in fact requested the picture's loan:

On Friday, the Louvre confirmed that it had requested a loan, but declined to comment on doubts about the attribution or concerns among politicians and art historians. On Sunday, the museum said that it is awaiting a response from the painting’s owner on a loan.

Asked whether it would display it as a Leonardo or as a workshop production, a spokeswoman said: “The answer will be given in October”.

The Mail has picked up the Telegraph's story, with the headline:

"Is the world's most expensive painting a FAKE? Louvre snubs 'Leonardo da Vinci' painting"

And yet the subsequent piece contradicts the headline entirely, with the Louvre's response to M. Franck:

But a Louvre spokeswoman told MailOnline: 'The Musée du Louvre has asked for the loan of the Salvator Mundi and wishes to present it in its October exhibition.

'We are waiting for the owner’s answer.

'M. Franck was part of the scholars who have been consulted 7 or 8 years ago for the restoration of the Saint Ann.

'He is not currently working on the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition and has never been curator for the Louvre.

'His opinion is his personal opinion, not the one of the Louvre.' 

Both stories show the power of Leonardo as clickbait. Add to that the suggestion that some hapless Saudi prince has wasted $450m and you have the makings of art history's equivalent of the dream tabloid headline they used to teach in journalism school; 'Bishop in sex dash to palace'. 

The current spate of stories about the Salvator Mundi must also reflect the fact that its whereabouts are unknown; if it was on display at the Louvre Abu Dahbi, as was the original intention, I don't think the stories would have such traction. 

Update - The Louvre has told The Art Newspaper that the claims are 'fake information'. 

Update II - M. Franck writes to say that the Louvre are mistaken, and that he was actually a consultant for them up to 2016.

Theodoor Van Loon exhibition

October 23 2018

Image of Theodoor Van Loon exhibition

Piccture: Bozar

The first exhibition devoted to the Flemish Caravaggist Theodoor Van Loon has opened at the Bozar centre for fine arts in Brussels. Says the blurb:

Theodoor van Loon was one of the first painters from the Southern Netherlands to be deeply influenced by the art of Caravaggio. Like his contemporary Rubens, Van Loon developed a powerful, original style and throughout the whole of his career he remains marked by the Italian masters.

For the very first time this exhibition brings you into contact with the work of this atypical artist. By placing his paintings alongside those of his contemporaries (Rubens, Barocci, Bloemaert) the show reveals the particular role Van Loon played in his era.

Until 13th January 2019. More " target="_blank">here

'Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill'

October 23 2018

Video: Strawberry Hill

There's a fascinating new exhibition at Strawberry Hill in Middlesex, the home of the famed 18th Century British art historian and collector, Horace Walpole. For the first time in over 170 years, the celebrated Gothic fantasy house can be seen as it was in Walpole's day, with many of his artworks in the positions that he designed for them. The show runs until 24th February, 2019. More here. The catalogue by Silvia Davoli, who has spent many years tracking down Walpole's collection, is available to buy here

Very sadly, the portrait of the Duke of Buckingham by Rubens, which we featured on Britain's Lost Masterpieces and which once belonged to Walpole, was not available for loan.  

Mantegna and Bellini at the National Gallery

October 2 2018

Video: National Gallery

The new Mantegna and Bellini exhibition at the National Gallery has opened, and looks to be fascinating. It's on until 27th January. The critics like it: Jackie Wullschlager calls it 'marvellous' in the FT; Ben Luke gives it five stars in the Evening Standard; and Nancy Durrant in The Times gives it four stars. Jonathan Jones in The Guardian is less keen, giving it three stars. 

I'm glad to see the National Gallery making another good video for the show, above. But as talking about Old Masters on film is dear to my heart, I can't avoid pointing out that it doesn't really deliver. This is a video made by art historians for art historians. It should be made for the more general audience of potential visitors, who might not know why Mantegna is worth getting excited about. It needs to get quickly to the point about what the exhibition is about, why these artists matter, and in an accessible way. It doesn't even say that Mantegna and Bellini were brothers-in-law, which is rather a key point in why the exhibition is looking at the two artists together.  

"Ribera: Art of Violence"

September 27 2018

Video: EFE

The new Ribera exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery in London looks good; above is a clip from Spanish TV from inside the show, which opened yesterday. It runs until 27th January. More here.  

'Fleming at 50'

August 15 2018

Image of 'Fleming at 50'

Picture: Fleming Wyfold Foundation

We went last night to the opening of a new exhibition at the Edinburgh Fine Art Society, celebrating 50 years of the Fleming Collection. The collection, focused on Scottish art of all periods, was begun in the 1960s by Flemings bank. The exhibition is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival, and includes well known works such as John Watson Nicol's Lochaber No More (above), about the Highland Clearances. Until 3rd September. More here.  

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