1. Planning for Van Dyck.
Prado’s forthcoming signature exhibition, The Young Van Dyck opens on November 20th(until March 3rd, 2013). This is how it is planned to hang – according to the General Conditions for the installation contract, published last July, accessible here. As usual, the Friends of the Prado will offer a series of four conferences by its curator, Alejandro Vergara, and its chief restorer, Maria Antonia López de Asiain. (every Monday from October 1st, fee €145).
2. Books: Matías Díaz Padrón, Van Dyck en España.
Dr. Matías Diaz Padrón (1935) heavy volumes (Van Dyck en España, 2 vols, Madrid: Editorial Prensa Ibérica, September 2012; 928 pages, €250.- on the publisher’s website) are his lifetime work, and an archive for his many discoveries in different Spanish collections. It was presented last week in the auditorium of the Museo del Prado, where he served between 1970 and 2007, first in the Conservation Department, and then as curator in the Flemish and Dutch Schools Department. Likewise, in an article in the last issue of the Archivo Español de Arte, he argues that a version of Van Dyck’s Saint Sebastian, now in the City Council of Palma de Mallorca, is in fact the lost original from the Monterrey collection.
3. Albert works.
Readers of this blog’s post of August 2nd, might recognise this Christ in Majesty (alabaster, 24 cm. high, c.1320) by the Master of Anglesola (first half of the 14th century), a personal discovery of Albert Velasco, curator at the Museu de Lleida. He has now published a complete study on the piece (“Un nou fragment del sepulcre de Ramon Folc VI de Cardona, del Monestir de Poblet”, Aplec de treballs. Centre d’Estudis de la Conca de Barberà, n. 29, 2011, p. 209-219).
4. A women’s landscape.
Some weeks ago I went to see two exhibitions, one in Girona (The landscape in the collection of Carmen Thyssen, Caixafòrum, free admission, until January 6th, catalogue for €30 at the door) and the other in Sant Feliu de Guíxols (Landscapes of light, landscapes of dreams. Monastery of Porta Ferrada, until October 8th, admission €6.-, catalogue for €25 at the door) of Catalan and European 19th – early 20th Century landscapes from the collection of Mrs. Carmen Thyssen Bornemisza. As you can expect from a private collection, there were ups and downs. But some of the rooms were really suggestive, like number 6 in the Monastery of Porta Ferrada, which was labelled “The interior landscape” (meaning house interiors). It read also as a short review of the role of women in fin de siècle art – and society. It started with the well-off middle-class wife, sitting comfortably with her husband in their private realm (Ramon Casas, Terrace, 160,5 x 121 cm, 1898; pictured above); continued with the outdoors, independent Parisian, showing off in public parks in the day and in crowded bars at nights, in an ambiguous mixing of freedom and easy availability (Herman Anglada Camarasa, Le Paon Blanc, oil on canvas, 78.5 x 99.5 cm, 1904); and ended with the marginalized, pregnant gypsy by Isidre Nonell (Pregnant Gipsy, oil on canvas, 95 x 80 cm, 1904), whose outplacing is underlined by the blurring of all space references – as though she were sitting in a void. In other words, the signs for a bigger, international project on the subject were there. On the other hand, the exhibition in Sant Feliu was presented as a preview of the future museum in the village housing loans from the same collection. She also announced plans for a large loan to the MNAC in Barcelona – both moves may affect its current display in an annex of Museo Thysen Bornemizsa in Madrid.
5. When did it all start?
As noted, one of the implied, and really worthy messages of both Thyssen exhibitions is the connection of 19th century Catalan artists with their European counterparts. As they show, these contacts started going mainstream when Ramon Martí Alsina (1826-1894) adopted Gustave Courbet’s (1819- 1877) realism in some of his reasonably sized works – he reserved the really big ones for dramatic history scenes (as seen in Realisms. The Mark of Courbet, April – June 2011 in the MNAC). But perhaps we can take a step back, and consider the acquaintance of Catalan Nazarenes with the original German group in Rome in the middle of the century. The subject was explored by Dr. Matilde González in her unpublished PhD thesis, and in some recent articles (“La contribució dels puristes catalans al Romanticisme històric”, Revista de Catalunya, n. 275-276, 2011; pp. 81 – 122, and “Una mirada al retrato romántico purista: de los nazarenos alemanes a los nazarenos catalanes”, Butlletí de la Reial Acadèmia de Sant Jordi, n. 25, 2011; pp. 57-78). It is well illustrated by the parallel between German’s frescoes in Casa Barthóldy, and the work by Pelegrí Clavé pictured above, which was bought in 2010 by the Museu d’Art de Girona (see the short note in yes, Wikipedia). The same relationship, but with the British Pre-Raphaellites is now explained, once again, in Tate Britain’s current Pre-Raphaellites Victorian Avant-Garde -until January 13th, admission for £4.- (although Brian Sewell does not really like the show, as we learn via the fantastic Art History News blog by B. Grosvenor). At the end of the day, Nazarens always put the same paradox on the table: was this back-looking group the first modern European movement, showing the latter avant-garde features of social reformism through art, near or pseudo-mystical preoccupations and artist leadership (instead of patron leadership)? How far were they from the Romantics of the previous generation? We need a European answer to that.
6. Goya, Goethe.
Both Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) and Johan Wolfgang Goethe (1749 – 1832) can provide some answers to the question above. There is news relating to them. On the one hand, the coming Dark Romanticism. From Goya to Max Ernst in the Städel in Frankfurt (from September 26th to January 30th, 2013, admission €10, catalogue €34.90), is preceded with an article in the FAZ pointing out that the Goethehaus, also in the city, could grow from being the house of an interesting collection of works by Goethe’s contemporaries, and become the first full-fledged Romanticism museum in Germany. On the other hand, fans of the Aragonese genius would love to learn the Prado has launched Goya en el Prado, a comprehensive website with all its Goya’s holdings – from sketches, and documents to the dark, and heavily restored Black Paintings.
7. Hirst, Adrià.
Ferran Adrià (Hospitalet del Llobregat, 1962), and Damien Hirst (Bristol, 1965) share something more than their common status as contemporary geniuses. But what about the differences? The chef was invited in documenta Kassel (12) in 2007; the artist is breaking attendance records with his current retrospective in the Tate.