Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Rodin – Genius at Work

Overview museum, Photo: Ralph Richter,
© Groninger Museum

Famed for his pieces The Gates of Hell and The Thinker, Auguste Rodin is regarded as the father of modern sculpture. Rodin paved the art form’s path into the 20th century through innovative experimentation and bold creation of shapes. The exhibition Rodin – Genius at Work currently at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands unravels the secrets of Rodin’s creativity with a display of 140 pieces.

Hand of God, Rodin
The exhibition starts with a room called “The Hand of God.” In the center, as if taken from the moment God was creating man, is The Hand of God. The walls are covered with photographs of Rodin’s atelier where more than fifty assistants worked to support the artist who holds the hand of God.

Different Materials
The exhibition displays works of varying materials such as marble, plaster, bronze and ceramics. Sculptures of the same theme impart different impressions depending on the materials and their process of creation. Rodin planned for Eve (fig. 1) together with Adam to stand as large statues at the sides of The Gates of Hell. The Bronze Eve emphasizes the interesting shape of arms encircling a twisted body while the marble figure highlights the female’s soft skin texture and figure’s curves.

Groninger Museum
Located in front of the Groningen train station, the Groninger Museum is a striking building designed by four architects led by the Italian Alessandro Mendini. The museum exhibits a wide-ranging collection, including world-renowned works of the local artists’ association De Ploeg and its collection of Chinese and Japanese ceramics.

Groninger Museum
Museumeiland 1
9711 ME Groningen
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Tuesday to Sunday 10:00-17:00

Every Monday, and Jan 1, Apr 27, Dec 25.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Fra Bartolommeo – The Divine Renaissance Exhibition

The Pavilion and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Photo: studio Hans Wilschut.

Along with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Fra Bartolommeo was one of the driving forces behind the High Renaissance. He is known for his majestic figures, delicate colors and skilled depiction of the draping of clothes. The exhibition displays 11 paintings and 140 drawings. The number of paintings is limited but span from his early to later pieces.

Owner of the World’s Largest Collection of Fra Bartolommeo Drawings
The Museum Bojimans Van Beuningen owns the largest collection in the world of Fra Bartolommeo’s drawings because its founder Daniel George van Beuningen owned two albums that contained 500 drawings by the painter. A Florence collector had bought the albums in 1792. They were purchased by Van Beuningen in 1940.

The Painter’s Intention Traced Back to the Drawings
There is no other 16th century artist whose drawings survive in such large numbers. For example, more than 60 drawings have been identified as studies for the fresco The Last Judgment. Bartolommeo made numerous drawings before finalizing a figure’s composition or pose. He used a mannequin with movable joints to study a person’s pose. He depicted the differences in personality and emotion that result from minor adjustments of the angle of the neck, the raising of an arm or extension of a knee on the ground. Carefully examining how these would affect the folds in the robes cloaking the bodies, Bartolommeo made numerous sketches before deciding on the best pose. Viewing the drawings in chronological order reveals clearly what the artist paid attention to in his revisions and final decision.
At the exhibition, in addition to the drawings and paintings, photographs of black-and-white printouts of the paintings will be posted near the drawings. The monochrome emphasizes the delineations, allowing viewers to study the similarities between the sketches and painting.

Fra Bartolommeo – The Divine Renaissance Exhibition Until Jan. 15, 2017
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
3015 CX Rotterdam
the Netherlands
Opening times:
Tuesday – Sunday 11:00-17:00
Dec 5、Dec 24, Dec 3 11:00-16:00

Mondays and Jan 1, April 27, Dec 25

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Magritte: The Treason of Images Exhibition

Fig. 1 René Magritte, La Décalcomanie, 1966, Huile sur toile, 81 × 100 cm, Dr Noémi Perelman Mattis et Dr Daniel C. Mattis, © Adagp, Paris 2016, © Photothèque R. Magritte / Banque d’Images, Adagp, Paris, 2016

Commemorating its 40th anniversary this year, the Centre Pompidou opened “Magritte: The Treason of Images” exhibition on September 27. The Belgian painter Rene Magritte was known as a surrealist who used imagination to its utmost and combined everyday images that on one glance appear unrelated. Magritte attempted to create a world of “hyper reality” where dreams and reality unite without contradicting each other (fig 1). Magritte interacted with philosophers including Michel Foucault whose influences on his work are clear.

The language of Magritte’s pictures
Fig.2 René Magritte, La Trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe),
1929, Huile sur toile, 60,33 x 81,12 x 2,54 cm, Los Angeles County Museum
of Art. Purchased with funds provided by the Mr. and Mrs. William Preston
Harrison Collection, © Adagp, Paris 2016, © Photothèque R. Magritte
/ Banque d’Images, Adagp, Paris, 2016
This exhibit proposes interpreting Magritte’s work from the viewpoint of ideology and art. Magritte repeatedly employed a number of motifs – curtains, letters, framed spaces and shadows – each with their own meaning. Magritte spoke through his paintings with this pictorial language like a philosopher presenting a well-argued theory. For example, his frames and segmented spaces refer to Plato’s allegory of the cave, and his shadows can be interpreted as the discovery of painting described in Pliny’s Natural History.

This is not a pipe
In “The Treason of Images (this is not a pipe)” (fig. 2), the words “This is not a pipe” are written below the painting. The picture and words seem to contradict each other, but even though the illustration could be mistaken for an actual pipe, it is still an illustration. The conflict between words and imagery has a long history that dates back to the biblical era when Moses, angered by the Israelites idolizing icons, destroyed the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.

Magritte: The Treason of Images Exhibition until Jan 23, 2017 (closed Tuesdays)

Centre Pompidou
19 Rue Beaubourg
75004 Paris
Opening times:
11:00-23:00  Closed on Tuesday

Monday, 19 September 2016

Museum Voorlinden Opening

Fig.1 Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar [foto: Pietro Savorelli]
The Museum Voorlinden (fig 1), located in Wassenaar, in the suburbs of The Hague, the Netherlands, opened on September 11. Wim Pijbes, the former head of the national Rijksmuseum was appointed General Director. Voorlinden will exhibit works from the largest private collection in the Netherlands, gathered over fifty years by Joop van Caldenborgh. A portion of the artworks was shown in 1995, but the opening of Voorlinden will finally allow the entire collection to be displayed.

The Largest Collection
Fig.2 Richard Serra (1938) Open Ended (2007-2008)
Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar [foto: Antoine van Kaam]
Ever since he purchased his first piece when he was 16 years old, Caldenborgh has been visiting exhibitions and galleries both in and out of the Netherlands and collecting art. His interests are broad, including paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs. The construction of Voorlinden allowed his largest piece, Richard Serra’s Open Ended (fig. 2), to be shown for the first time. The sculpture weighs a total of 216 tons and required a reinforcement of the museum floor. Also on display are the unrealistically large and exhaustively detailed recreations of people in Ron Mueck’s Couple under an Umbrella and Leandro Erlich’s Swimming Pool, where viewers can observe people in a pool.

Nature and Art
Voorlinden was built on a large and verdant 40-hectar plot of land. Transparent glass walls along part of the building give visitors a sense of being out in nature while actually inside. Surrounding the structure are sixty outdoor sculptures by Henry Moore, Sol LeWitt and others. Guided tours of the sculptures are also available.
Museum Voorlinden
Buurtweg 90
2244 AG Wassenaar
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Open daily 11:00-17:00

Friday, 12 August 2016

The Essential Art Space Opened in January 2016

fig.1 ©AkzoNobel Art Foundation

The AkzoNobel Art Foundation is commemorating its 20th anniversary with an inaugural showing of its corporate collection. The exhibition is at The Essential Art Space, which opened in January 2016 on the ground floor of the corporate headquarters building in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (fig.1)

AkzoNobel N.V.
The parent organization of the foundation, Akzonobel N.V., is the world’s largest paints and coatings company and a producer of specialty chemicals. Headquartered in Amsterdam with offices in 80 countries, its products are used not only for planes, ships and housing, but also widely for devices such as computers, cosmetics and foods.

Opening Exhibition: Culture of Colors
The AkzoNobel Art Foundation has been collecting contemporary art for twenty years. The collection includes a large number of avant-garde pieces such as groundbreaking paintings and video art, and 3D works built with unusual materials. The opening exhibit “Culture of Colors” introduces this unique collection through the concept of color, a motif that is common to both the parent company and its art. The works are categorized around though-provoking themes such as the Power of Pigments centered on Peter Laurens Mol’s The Total Amount that displays pigments from 100 years ago. Sublime Splendor gathers works that reflect the tone and texture, and fluidity of paints, and Colors of Identity shows portraits of members of various races.

The Essential Art Space is open to the public. Admission is free.
The Essential Art Space
Christian Neefestraat 2,
1077 WW Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Monday-Friday 10:00-17:00

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Georgia O’Keeffe Exhibition

London’s Tate Modern is showing a retrospective of Georgia O’Keeffe. Inspired by cubism and other avant-garde art movements in Europe, American artists in the early 20th century were creating novel, cutting-edge forms of expression. O’Keeffe was one of the driving forces behind this period of unprecedented stimulating and dynamic change in the American art scene.

Influence of Modernist Photography
O’Keeffe debuted her work in New York a century ago in 1916 and continued a long painting career of seventy years. She had a narrow range of motifs that included flowers, landscapes and animal bones and depicted these in exaggerated magnified dimensions. Her characteristic compositions have been attributed to the influence of modernist photography. One individual who particularly shaped O’Keeffe’s works was her husband Alfred Stieglitz who ran a gallery devoted to avant-garde art from Europe and was regarded as the father of modernist photography.

Large-scale Flowers
O’Keeffe’s masterpiece Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (fig. 1) depicts a single jimson weed blossom. O’Keeffe magnified the plant to fill the canvas but portrayed the center of the flower and veins of the leaves simply, limiting the use of colors to blue, green and white in contrasting shades. By incorporating techniques of photography, she gave new expression to the traditional theme of a still life of a plant.

Primal Landscape of America
Following the death of Stieglitz, O’Keeffe moved to Abiquiú, a small town in New Mexico in the American southwest which O’Keeffe had fallen in love with and visited many times. There, O’Keeffe used as motifs for her work, the dry and desolate landscapes and stones and buffalo bones that she collected herself. Her eyesight began to deteriorate in the 1970s, but she continued to paint with the help of an assistant until her death at 98.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Until October 30. (Closed Mondays)
Tate Modern
SE1 9TG, United Kingdom

+44 (0)20 7887 8888
Opening times:
Sunday to Thursday 10:00-18:00
Friday to Saturday 10:00-22:00

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The Douanier Rousseau

Fig.1 Henri Rousseau, dit Le Douanier Rousseau (1844-1910) La charmeuse de serpents, 1907 Huile sur toile, 167 x 189,5 cm Paris, musée d’Orsay © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

An exhibition examining the painter Henri Rousseau, who flourished from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, is underway at Musée d'Orsay in Paris. The exhibition interprets Rousseau through the theme of “archaism” and also presents the works of the avant-garde Montmartre painters like Picasso, who revered and recognized early on the talent of the elderly painter, as well as the followers of naïve art who carried out his legacy. By displaying these pieces together, one can probe the influence of Rousseau on modern art.

New Expressions
Henri Rousseau was called “the douanier” because he worked at the Paris tax office while he taught himself painting. His lack of formal training gave rise to an unrefined style that was regarded as a new form of expression and greatly influenced the avant-garde painters in Paris.

The New World of the Modern Era
While illustrating in a simple manner, Rousseau’s works incorporated new phenomena of the times. For example, in Portrait of Pierre Loti he painted factory chimneys spewing smoke in the background. In Myself, Portrait-Landscape, he depicted the elated atmosphere of the Paris Expo through ships flying expo flags and a hot air balloon. The exotic atmosphere he portrayed in his masterpieces such as La charmeuse de serpents (Fig. 1) and The Dream is an unprecedented landscape born out of the spread of colonialism. The young painters may have been drawn to these new representations of the new world.

The Douanier Rousseau Through July 17 (Closed Mondays)
Musée d'Orsay
1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur
75007 Paris, France
+33 1 40 49 48 14
Opening times:
9:30-18:00 (Closed Mondays、Thursdays until 9:45 pm)

Friday, 6 May 2016

Paul Klee: Irony at Work

Fig.1 PAUL KLEE, Insula dulcamara, 1938, oil and colour glue paint on paper on hessian canvas, 88 x 176 cm, Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne

The largest retrospective since 1969 of Paul Klee is underway at the Centre Pompidou in France. Featuring some 250 important works, the exhibit casts a new light on the art and character of Klee through the theme of irony (fig 1).

Fig.2 PAUL KLEE, Der Held mit dem Flügel, 
Le Héros à l’aile, 1905, Etching, 25,7 x 16 cm,
Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne
The Concept of Irony
After studying at the art academy in Munich, Klee traveled to Italy. Viewing the perfected beauty of classical Greek art and the Renaissance, Klee concluded that if he pursued classical idealism, he would only be mimicking the past. Klee searched for his own, new means of expression and came upon the concept of “irony,” promoted by the philosopher of early German Romanticism, Friedrich Schlegel. Klee perceived irony as a new means for him to simultaneously express high ideals and criticism. “I served beauty by drawing her enemies (caricature, satire),” he wrote in his journal.

Can Man Fly?
The Hero with the Wing (fig. 2) depicts a sturdy man growing just one wing from his shoulder. Perhaps from numerous failed attempts to fly, his body is covered with wounds. Klee created this work two years after the Wright brothers succeeded in the world’s first manned flight. Klee was skeptical about people flying and expressed his sarcasm in this piece.
Behind the Poetic Works
The narrative power and poetic sentiment of Klee’s colors have always been cited as having a major role in the appeal of his paintings. But another layer of depth can be felt in his works by examining them from the viewpoint of irony.

Paul Klee: Irony at Work until August 1 (Museum is closed on Tuesdays).
Centre Pompidou
19 Rue Beaubourg
75004 Paris
Opening times:
11:00-23:00  Closed on Tuesday

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Easy Virtue. Prostitution in French Art, 1850-1910

Fig.2 Bed, after 1860, painted, gilt and carved wood, Ville de Neuilly-sur-Seine. Photo: Jan-Kees Steenman

At the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam a provocative exhibition on Parisian culture from the late 19th to 20th century is underway.

Fig.1 Edgar Degas, Absinthe, 1875–6, oil on canvas,
36 ¼ × 27 in., Paris, Musée d’Orsay
The Women Who Light Up the Parisian Night
The city of Paris underwent a dramatic change following the 19th century industrial revolution that improved the living environment and brought about the construction of the likes of the Paris Opera and the Eiffel Tower. Workers from all over France converged on the city to construct these magnificent buildings. And at night, those men flocked to women in search of pleasure.

At the time, Paris was full of prostitutes. The women ranged from call girls soliciting customers on the streets and in cafes to women working at brothels to high-class courtesans with homes provided by their upper class lovers. Even glamorous cabaret dancers or ballerinas at the Opera in the spotlight could be considered among them, since once their shows were over they effectively were the mistresses of their patron men.

Prostitutes From the View of the Artist
Artists took on the subject of prostitutes as a means of expression of modernité (the modern era and its culture), the term coined by the poet Charles Baudelaire. Edgar Degas painted a woman with a drink of absinthe in a café known for solicitations (fig. 1), and Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Picasso, Kees van Dongen and Frantisek Kupka all portrayed gaudily dressed women flirting with men in steamy cabarets.

Viewers are taken from the streets of Paris where men got their first glimpse of a woman or the cafes and dance halls where women sought customers, to the closed off world of brothels and other places of illicit affairs. In addition to artwork, the exhibition reveals the practical elements the women’s lives not depicted in the paintings such as a display of the bed of a high-class madam (fig. 2), small objects used by prostitutes and books to register and manage their labor.

Easy Virtue. Prostitution in French Art, 1850-1910 Until June 19

Van Gogh Museum
Museumplein 6
1071 DJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Until July 14       9:00-18:00 (Fridays until 22:00)
July 14 to Sept 4  9:00-19:00 (Fridays until 22:00 Saturdays until 21:00)
Sept 5 to Nov 6    9:00-18:00 (Fridays until 22:00)
Other dates          9:00-17:00 (Fridays until 22:00)

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Major Retrospective: Jheronimus Bosch - Visions of genius

fig.1 Jheronimus Bosch, The Hay Wain, 1510-16, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado.With the special collaboration of The Museo Nacional del Prado.Photo: Rik Klein Gotink and Robert G. Erdmann for the Bosch Research and Conservation Project.
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the death of the artist of the bizarre and fantastic, Hieronymus Bosch. In this commemorative year, his hometown of Den Bosch (officially called ’s-Hertogenbosch) in the Netherlands, is currently showing “Jheronimus Bosch - Visions of genius.” This largest Bosch exhibit in history will show 20 paintings, including his prized triptychs, and 19 drawings, as well as works by artist followers of Bosch.

fig.2 Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of Saint
Anthony (fragment), c. 1500–10, Oil on oak panel,
38.6 × 25.1 cm. Kansas City, Missouri,
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, purchase William
Rockhill Nelson Trust. Photo Rik Klein Gotink and
image processing Robert G. Erdmann for the Bosch
Research and Conservation Project.
Two Worlds: Reality and Fantasy
Hieronymus Bosch lived in two worlds: the world of reality that surrounded him and the world of fantasy that existed in his mind. The world of reality was created and regulated by the Christian God. There, no matter how evil, fear or violent, everything was the will of God. After meticulously observing the world of reality created by God, Bosch constructed a unique world filled with fantastical creatures such as demons and monsters made by freely synthesizing birds and fish, humans and artificial objects. In his masterpiece triptych The Hay Wain (fig.1), comical demons attempt to transport hay from the central panel into the hell depicted to the right.

Newly Discovered Works by Bosch
Coinciding with the exhibit, a worldwide research project on Bosch was conducted which led to the discovery of evidence definitively attributing several works to the artist himself. Among them was The Temptation of St. Anthony (fig.2) found in the United States. Bosch had worked frequently with the theme of the temptation of St. Anthony’s faith by demons. The research concluded this small painting was part of a triptych

“Jheronimus Bosch - Visions of genius” Until May 8 (open daily)
Het Noordbrabants Museum
Verwersstraat 41
5211HT ’s-Hertogenbosch
The Netherlands
Opening hours:
During the exhibition 9 am to 8 pm every day and from 24th March 2016, 9 am to 11 pm every day

Monday, 8 February 2016

Breitner: Girl in Kimono

Girl in a White Kimono, 1894, George Hendrik Breitner. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

In museums around the Netherlands, paintings of a charming young girl in a kimono are on view. They are the works of Dutch artist George Hendrik Breitner. In the exhibition Breitner: Girl in Kimono the Rijksmuseum of the Netherlands will display all of the 13 works by Breitner of the girl in a kimono.
The Influence of Japonism
Breitner painted his girl in a kimono series around 1894. This was the period when Japonism was in full bloom, and European artists like Monet and Van Gogh were heavily influenced by Japanese art. Breitner, who was a friend of Van Gogh, also avoided becoming completely steeped in the traditions of Western art. He developed a strong interest in the flat lines and clear contrasts in Japanese prints and became a collector himself.

Girl in Kimono: Geese Kwak
fig. G.H. Breitner, Geesje Kwak in rode kimono, 1893-1895.
Daglichtgelatinezilverdruk, originele afdruk. RKD,
Nederlands Instituut voor Kunstgeschiedenis, Den Haag
The girl in kimono is Geese Kwak who worked in a hat shop and was a frequent model of Breitner from the age of 16 to 18. Most of these works were painted in the same room. Behind the bed covered with an Oriental rug stands a folding screen that limits the sense of depth and thus heightens the sense of intimacy. Geese lies on the bed dressed in a red or white kimono dotted with small floral print. Her head rests on a cushion, her arms sometimes raised behind her head, and she languidly stares into space.

The Netherlands Institute for Art History houses some 2,300 photographs taken by Breitner. He would digest what he saw through the lens and depict that onto his canvass. A comparison of the photos (fig) he took for Girl in Kimono with the final paintings offers a chance to trace that path of creation.

Breitner: Girl in Kimono February 20 to May 22

Museumstraat 1
1071 CJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Open daily 9:00-17:00

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Karel Appel Retrospective

Karel Appel, Vlammend Kind met Hoepel, 1961,olieverf op doek,
320 x 230 cm. Collectie Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris,
France© Karel Appel Foundation, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam, 2015
The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in the Netherlands is commemorating the tenth anniversary of the death of Karel Appel in his homeland with a major exhibition of his work. Appel was one of the founders in 1948 of the avant-garde art movement Cobra, and his expressionist style is regarded as a pivotal and highly influential force in post war art. The retrospective brings together 67 paintings, 12 sculptures and more than 60 drawings, including those from when he was a member of Cobra.

A Battle Against the Canvas
In Jan Vrijman’s documentary film “The Reality of Karel Appel,” the painter appears like a martial artist baring his fighting spirit. Approaching a canvas larger than his height, Appel throws clumps of paint with such force that it shakes the cloth, thrashes colors with his brush and howls as he pours paint directly from its tube onto the canvas. Appel created bold paintings by having the colors themselves express emotion. Once he established his style, Appel maintained it during his more than 60-year-long career, allowing it to evolve endlessly in his experimental works.

Meticulous Preparation for Production
Appel’s style is expressionist and was characterized by a violent hurling of a moment of passion against the canvas, but in actuality he prepared meticulously before embarking on each work. He made detailed studies of the designs of the works of artists like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Picasso and Mondrian and then drew many sketches to work out his design and carefully selected paints and tools.

After 1950
After moving to Paris in 1950, Appel received one international award after another. He continued thereafter to work vigorously, moving among his four ateliers in New York, Connecticut, Monaco and Tuscany. Appel died in 2006 in his then home in Zurich.

Karel Appel Retrospective: January 16 ― May 16, 2016 (Closed Mondays)

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Stadhouderslaan 41
2517 HV Den Haag
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Tuesday to Sunday: 11:00-17:00
Closed on Mondays