Archives for Venice

National Gallery Shows Masterpieces by Michelangelo and Sebastiano

AN UNUSUAL relationship between the Renaissance master, Michelangelo and lesser known Venetian artist, Sebastiano del Piombo is the focus of a new exhibition at The National Gallery in London. The show, which opens this spring, endeavours to gain greater recognition for Sebastiano whose talents have been largely overshadowed by his association with Michelangelo but whose work was highly regarded by 19th century collectors.

Their creative partnership, which is evidenced through paintings, sculptures and working drawings, took place during a time of great political upheaval, heated theological debate and in powerful opposition to their artistic rival, Raphael. Central to the show are Michelangelo and Sebastiano’s remarkable collection of original letters, which disclose the intriguing details of their professional and personal life and whose writing styles reveal much about the artists’ respective personalities.

The National Gallery, Michelangelo, Sebastiano, painting, sculpture, drawing, lettersThe Visitation by Sebastiano del Piombo, 1518-19, Musée du Louvre, Département des Peintures, Paris, Courtesy of RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Hervé Lewandowski

Michelangelo’s controversial sculpture, The Risen Christ, condemned by the biographer Romain Rolland to be “the coldest and dullest thing he ever did”, although much-admired by the artist’s contemporaries, is displayed for the first time in contrast with a plaster cast from his second version. The exhibition also presents a rare opportunity to view Sebastiano’s work, the Lamentation over the Dead Christ, also known as Viterbo Pietà which marks the beginning of the artists’ collaboration.

The National Gallery, Michelangelo, Sebastiano, painting, sculpture, drawing, lettersChrist carrying the Cross by Sebastiano del Piombo, c.1513-14.
Courtesy of Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Sebastiano, who was ten years younger than Michelangelo, was born in Venice 1485. The artists first met in Rome while Michelangelo was just completing  work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.  Sebastiano, a talented oil painter was an ideal partner for Michelangelo who was eager to undermine the success of his rival, Raphael.

After their initial success with Viterbo Pietà, the artists collaborated on two other major projects, the decoration of the Borgherini Chapel in S. Pietro and the Raising of Lazarus which was created in fierce opposition to Raphael’s Transformation for the Cathedral of Norbonne in France. However, their friendship ended acrimoniously when Sebastiano tried to force Michelangelo to paint the Last Judgement for the Sistine Chapel in oils rather than his preferred medium of fresco.

The National Gallery, Michelangelo, Sebastiano, painting, sculpture, drawing, lettersLamentation over the Dead Christ by Sebastiano del Piombo, c.1512-16,
Museo Civico, Viterbo. Courtesy of Comune di Viterbo

by Miranda Charalambous

The Credit Suisse exhibition, Michelangelo & Sebastiano opens from 15 March to 25 June 2017 at The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN.

Email: information@ng-london.org.uk

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7747 2885

Front page image: The Visitation by Sebastiano del Piombo, 1518-19, Musée du Louvre, Département des Peintures, Paris, Courtesy of RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Hervé Lewandowski

Philip Guston and the Poets Exhibition Opens In Venice

THE work of American painter and muralist, Philip Guston is re-imagined through the writings of five 2oth century poets in a new exhibition which aims to shed fresh light on the artist’s impressive oeuvre. The new show, Philip Guston and the Poets, which opens at the  Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice this spring, traces the artist’s achievements from his early forays with cubism in the 1930s, his subsequent shift to abstract expressionism to his cartoon-inspired imagery of the 1980s.

Displaying over 50 major paintings and drawings, the show reveals the complexity and inner-workings of this talented and latterly, controversial artist in the expectation that his work gains greater appreciation and therefore be better understood. The curator, Kosme de Barañano explains, “Guston’s passion for Italian culture adds a complex and rich textural depth to his work.”

Philip Guston, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Neo-classicism, Abstract Expressionalism, figurationPhilip Guston, Mother and Child, c. 1930, Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 ins,
The Estate of Philip Guston, Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

Throughout his life, Guston’s work maintained a strong affinity philosophy and literature which, in the 1960s led to collaborations with the American writers Clark Coolidge and Bill Berkson. During this time, Guston’s painting underwent a dramatic transformation from abstraction to what appeared to be, absurdly figurative, a move which baffled both critics and fellow artists. Growing impatient with the constraints that Modern art imposed, Guston declared, “I got sick and tired of all that purity.”

Philip Guston, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Neo-classicism, Abstract Expressionalism, figurationPhilip Guston, Position I, 1965, Oil on canvas, 65 x 80 ins.
The Estate of Philip Guston, Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

Now darker and almost representational, Guston’s abstract work soon gave way to a riot of viscous pasty pinks and mimetic imagery depicting light bulbs, clocks and sensible shoes.  As his enthusiasm for this new approach gathered momentum, the sinister Ku Klux Klan figures from his much earlier works became re-incarnated into insidious cartoon-like forms. Guston’s hooded villains drive cars and smoked cigarettes just like his depictions of bulbous-headed oddballs.

These symbolic forms became his leitmotifs and illustrated many of Coolidge’s poems, writing which Guston appreciated immensely.  In this exhibition, W.B. Yeats’ 1930s work, Byzantium  is contrasted with Guston’s later work in which the artist strove gain control. In a letter to Bill Berkson, Guston candidly admitted, “I haven’t really understood what I am doing – does that come later?”

Philip Guston, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Neo-classicism, Abstract Expressionalism, figurationPhilip Guston, Painter’s Forms, 1972, Oil on panel, 48 x 60 ins.
The Estate of Philip Guston, Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

The exhibition is designed by Grisdainese and curated by Kosme de Barañano, a former Executive Director of IVAM and the former Deputy Director of Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. He is also professor at the University of the Basque Country and visiting professor at the University Elche, Spain, IUAV in Venice and at the Humbolt University in Berlin.

Philip Guston, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Neo-classicism, Abstract Expressionalism, figurationPhilip Guston, The Line, 1978, Oil on canvas, 71 x 73 ¼ ins.
The Estate of Philip Guston, Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

by Miranda Charalambous

Philip Guston and the Poets opens May 10 – September 3, 2017 at  the Gallerie dell’Accademia, Campo della Carità, Dorsoduro 1050, 30100 Venice, Italy

Telephone: +39 041 5222247

Email: sspsae-ve.accademia@beniculturali.it

Front page image: Philip in Rome, 1960, The Estate of Philip Guston, Courtesy Hauser & Wirth