OMNP Midterm Review: Exhibitions

The US has gotten its share of Renaissance preeminence, as Michelangelo, Leonardo, and the Venetian trinity have both made rare appearances stateside over the past twelve months.

Following the debut of  rare Leonardo drawings at the Birmingham Museum of Art last winter, the rare and controversial discovery of what many believe to be Michelangelo’s first painting eventually led its way to the Kimball Museum of Art in Dallas, who purchased the painting, and to a current exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Meanwhile, further north, MFA Boston debuted “Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice,” the museum’s monumental survey of the golden era of Venetian painting, and really the first of its kind to make its way across the Atlantic. The show was reflected upon by OMNP contributor, Hannah Barrett here.

Museums also continue to showcase Old Masters in a more eclectic format, by mixing them with other genres of painting. Two of the biggest exhibitions along such lines came at the beginning of the year. On the heels of “Picasso and the Masters’” at the Grand Palais in Paris, the UK National Gallery followed with “Picasso: Challenging the Past”, again showing the modern master’s voracious appetite for past greatness. Picasso considered this to be his true competition, and a template by which he could appropriate.

On Picasso, Martin Gayford, art critic for Bloomberg News wrote:

“When Picasso set himself to paint variations on a given picture — as he did late in life with Delacroix’s “Women of Algiers,” Velazquez’s “Las Meninas” and Manet’s “Luncheon on the Grass” — he was not copying the original at all.

It was more like cannibalism: Gobbling up art history, and turning it into pure Picasso. He translated “Women of Algiers” into his Cubist terms while retaining a barely identifiable trace of the original. The old painter, you sense, was having fun in his studio, teasing an eminent ghost, “that bastard” Delacroix.

The Tate continues this trend this fall, with “Turner and the Masters”


Turner and the Masters [Tate Britian]

Ingres and the Moderns: Harems, Hijacked [Canadian Art]

Francis Bacon and the Old Masters at the Met [Richard Lacayo, TIME]

Another noteworthy take on the theme of old versus new came out of St. Louis, by way of the Pulitzer Museum’s “Ideal (Dis)placements: Old Masters at the Pulitzer” Instead of picture comparisons, the exhibition opted for the effect of a grandiose installation, placing Old Masters in a cutting edge minimalist space.

Bigger institutions came up with some cool concepts of their own. In late April, the Prado debuted their “Guest Works of Art” program, with a religious portrait of the “Penitent Magdalene” by Georges de la Tour, on loan from the Louvre. This idea sounds like an apt way for the international fraternity of blockbuster museums to strengthen their bond, and increase visitor interest.


From Raphael to Carracci The Art of Papal Rome [National Gallery of  Canada]

J.M.W Turner in China [British Council for the Arts]

Van Dyck and Britain, Tate Britain, 18 February  –  17 May 2009 [Tate Gallery]

Captured Emotions: Baroque Painting in Bologna 1575-1725 [J. Paul Getty Museum]

Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker March 15, 2009 – August 02, 2009 [The Jewish Museum]

Face Off: A Selection of Old Masters and Others from The Menil Collection [Art Daily]

“Goya and the Modern World,” at the Museo de Zaragoza [Art Daily]

Jan Lievens: Out of Rembrandt’s Shadow [Milwaukee Art Museum]

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