Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Review of Gabriele Münter: Painting to the Point at Museum Ludwig, Cologne

Gabriele Münter: Painting to the Point
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
15 September 2018 – 13 January 2019

The German painter Gabriele Münter (1877-1962) holds a special place in my heart, since, at the age of 17, I spent the summer in the small and charming Bavarian Alpine town of Murnau, completing a language course at the Goethe Institute, and there encountered for the first time the work of Münter and her contemporaries. For it was in Murnau that the Berlin-born artist settled in 1909; there that she and Russian émigré artist Wassily Kandinsky lived together in the “Yellow House”, which went on to become the birthplace of the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider group of expressionist artists); and there that she continued to live until her death, at the age of 85. The Staffelsee (the lake on the shores of which Murnau sits), the onion-shaped dome atop the church tower, and the purple and green Alps in the distance are all sights that warm my heart, much as they must have done Münter’s, given the number of times that she painted them. As soon as I read the announcement about Gabriele Münter: Painting to the Point, at the Museum Ludwig, this exhibition was therefore a must for me. 

Read the full review here

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Feature: Behind the Scenes conserving Artemisia Gentileschi at the National Gallery, London


Published in the Winter 2018 issue of Art Quarterly

Q: Norman Ackroyd


Published in the Winter 2018 issue of Art Quarterly

Review of London 1938: Defending ‘Degenerate’ German Art at the Liebermann-Villa am Wannsee, Berlin

London 1938: Defending ‘Degenerate’ German Art
Liebermann-Villa am Wannsee, Berlin
7 October 2018 – 14 January 2019 

While – and rightly so – much is widely known about the “degenerate art” exhibition staged by the Nazis at the Archaeological Museum in Munich in the summer of 1937, showing around 650 works of art from 20,000 that had been collected, far less is known about the response, which opened at the New Burlington Galleries in London the following July, and showed more than 300 works of art by more than 65 of these “degenerate” German artists. To mark the 80th anniversary of what, according to Barbara Warnock of the Wiener Library in London, remains “the largest exhibition of modern German art that there has ever been in Britain”, the Liebermann-Villa – the villa built by the “degenerate” painter Max Liebermann, as his summer home and “lakeside palace” on the shore of Wannsee, just south-west of Berlin – has mounted an exhibition showcasing 30 of the original works. 

The team has worked closely with the Wiener Library – the world’s oldest archive of material on the Holocaust and the Nazi era – which also staged a small exhibition earlier this year, showing largely archival material and reproductions of some of the key works of art, along with artefacts and documents from its archives telling the story of displaced Jews arriving in Britain before the war. The focus of the exhibition in Berlin, however, lays far more firmly on the stories of the lenders to the 1938 exhibition, drawing on new research on the provenance histories of the works before and after the show.

Read the review here

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Review of Renoir Father and Son: Painting and Cinema at Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Renoir Father and Son: Painting and CinemaMusée d’Orsay, Paris
6 November 2018 – 27 January 2019

Walking into the side galleries in the impressive Musée d’Orsay, Paris, on a wet and windy late-autumn day, there is suddenly the feeling of spring – a girl laughs as she gaily swings back and forth, and a young couple promenade, doe-eyed, enjoying the first throes of young love. In black and white, these scenes play out on a loop on a large screen – extracts from some of the best-known and best-loved early films by the French film director Jean Renoir (1894-1979), while, on the surrounding walls, colour luminesces, as the same – or very similar – scenes are frozen, like screen grabs, on the canvases of his father, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), the impressionist painter. 

And so it goes on for the duration of the exhibition, which fills the galleries along the length of the first floor of the museum: Renoir-father and Renoir-son interspersed and in conversation – repeated motifs, repeated scenery, repeated models. The idea is not to place Jean in his father’s shadow, but to explore the extent to which his father’s legacy, and their close relationship, with Jean’s intimate understanding of his father’s painting process, influenced his directing career – either in terms of deliberately paying homage to, or deliberately seeking to move away from, such ascendancy. As Jean said towards the end of his career: “I have spent my life trying to determine the extent of the influence of my father upon me,” going on to describe his ambivalence and the periods “when I did my utmost to escape from it to dwell upon those when my mind was filled with the precepts I thought I had gleaned from him”.

Read the full review here