At the moment I’m planning my travel schedule over the next six months, and am faced with the rather pleasant dilemma of having many excellent exhibitions I want to see, but a limited amount of time in which to see them.
As I was commenting to my editor the other day, it’s interesting how, beginning in the 1970’s and up until a few years ago, art museums planned their big, important shows for the Summer, with the idea being that people had more free time to go see retrospectives on popular artists like Van Gogh or Vermeer when they were on vacation. In effect, they were designed to be the daytime equivalent of “Blockbuster” films like “Star Wars” or “Jaws”, made to fill the coffers of these institutions. In recent years however, it seems as though the pendulum has swung back to the old idea of having major art exhibitions coincide with what used to be called “the season”, when city dwellers return to work or school. There wasn’t a single exhibition I really wanted to see this Summer, to be honest, but once we pass the Labor Day weekend, there will be all sorts of shows whose press releases have evoked an “Mmmm, tasty,” response from yours truly.
The easy ones for me to single out have been exhibitions on the work of some of my favorite artists, such as Raphael, Goya, and John Singer Sargent (see his preparatory charcoal drawing for his 1912 portrait of Sybil, Marchioness of Cholmondeley below.) There are also shows on artists whose work I already admire and know something about, but I’m eager to learn more and see their art up close, including Andrea del Verrocchio, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Edward Hopper, and Alonso Berruguete, among others. Then there will be exhibitions on artists whom I’m not really familiar with at all, but who seem interesting and worth taking a look at, such as Félix Vallotton and Francesco Albani.
And that’s just a few of the shows which I’m currently aware of: a number of institutions haven’t even announced their Fall and Winter lineups yet.
Since art writing is my hobby, not my profession, I can’t devote my resources to traveling about all over the place seeing all of the art I’d like to see: no one’s going to pay me to fly out to Paris this Fall and see the Louvre’s Da Vinci retrospective, for example. That being said, one thing that I encourage my readers to do when they travel for business or pleasure is to see what’s on show in the cities you’ll be staying in, or reasonably nearby. If you’re going to a conference in Minnesota before Thanksgiving for example, you could visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art and learn how the artists of the Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th century rediscovered the creative possibilities of the old Medieval technique of making woodcut prints. Or if you’re spending Christmas at the in-laws’ in Florida, drop by the Harn Museum in Gainesville for an examination of the career of one of the most important and influential photographers of the 20th century, André Kertész (1894-1985). You never know what tasty new things you might discover.
And now, on to some more “Mmmm” art in this week’s news roundup.
Más at the Meadows
Though you might not be aware of it, one of the best collections of Spanish art in America can be found at the Meadows Museum, located at Southern Methodist University in Dallas: a fact which is all the more remarkable given that the collection only began to be assembled in the 1950’s. Recently, the Meadows announced the latest acquisitions for their permanent collection, which include a statue of Our Lady of Solitude (1769) by the later Baroque sculptor Manuel Ramírez de Arellano (1721/22–1789); “Orchard in Seville” (c. 1880) by Impressionist Emilio Sánchez Perrier (1855–1907), shown below; “Portrait of Margaret Kahn” (1923) by 20th Century Realist Ignacio Zuloaga (1870–1945) donated to the Museum by the artist’s grandson; and a 1971 bronze cast of the classic Surrealist work, “Venus de Milo with Drawers”, by Salvador Dalí (1904–1989). I can’t think of another art institution in the U.S. that has as comprehensive a collection of Spanish art as the Meadows, covering everyone from El Greco and Velázquez up through Picasso and Miró, as well as many secondary and lesser-known artists who are underrepresented in the U.S., so I will definitely have to hie myself thither at some point.
Moving to Middlesex
Thanks to the efforts of various donors, an Italian Baroque painting that for nearly 250 years hung in an English country house owned by the Child family banking dynasty is returning to its former home. “Saint Agatha” was painted by Carlo Dolci (1616-1687) sometime between 1665 and 1670, and within a few years of its execution the picture was hanging at Osterley House in the county of Middlesex, England; it remained there until the family began selling off some of the items from their collection in the 1930’s. It came up at Christie’s last summer, and after being acquired for Osterley it has been undergoing cleaning and restoration. This Fall, visitors will be able to witness its permanent return, alongside temporary loans of works that used to hang in the mansion, which itself is currently undergoing repairs in the hope of fully reopening to the public next year. “Treasures of Osterley – Rise of a Banking Family” will open on November 4th, and run through February 20th of 2020.
Montpellier’s Modern Master
One of the great things about studying art is that no matter how much you learn, you’ll never run out of new-to-you artists whom you can come to appreciate. I recently discovered the work of Vincent Bioulès (1938-), a French artist who began as something of an Abstract Expressionist, and later moved into a style broadly reminiscent of Matisse. Beginning around 30 years ago however, his art radically changed, so that today, although he doesn’t use the term, we might describe him as a Neo-Pointillist, as you can see below in “La Tourette I” (1994-5). He often paints scenes set in the Languedoc region of southern France – what some of us refer to as “Northern Catalonia” – and the intense Mediterranean sunlight of that part of the world plays a significant role in how he sees structures and figures in conjunction with natural elements. Now the subject of a major retrospective at the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, Bioulès is not as well known outside of France – and even within France – as he deserves to be, so consider this introduction my gift to you. “Vincent Bioulès: Chemins de Traverse” [Sideroads] is at the Fabre Museum in Montpellier through October 6th.