Thursday, 12 December 2013
The debate all began in October, when the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera told readers that a new Leonardo da Vinci had been discovered among some 400 artworks in a Swiss bank vault, belonging to an unnamed Italian family. Credibility was given to the story in that the portrait bore a close resemblance to a da Vinci colored pastel and chalk drawing in the Louvre Museum's collection: a portrait of Isabella d'Este, an aristocrat.
The work is currently undergoing analysis by a leading da Vinci expert hired by the family: Carolo Pedretti. For Pedretti, there is no doubt that the painting is genuine.
Not so, claims Carmen Bambech, curator of drawings and prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Carbon dating of the painting has demonstrated that it was done between 1460 and 1650. This coincides with the dating of the Louvre drawing, about end 1499 to early 1500, during the period that Leonardo da Vinci was a guest in Isabella d'Este's court. Tempting to think that they were indeed from the same hand, especially when Pedretti states, as he apparently informed ARTNews, that the sfumato around the face is absolutely Leonardo, and x-ray show it corresponds perfectly to the Louvre drawing.
However, these persuasive arguments are countered by the documentary proofs of Martin Kemp of Oxford. The awkward gesture of the hand pointing at nowhere in particular is the clue.
It would seem that da Vinci did indeed make a first drawing of the noblewoman, who desperately wanted him to do her portrait; in that drawing the hands are resting gracefully in the manner of the Mona Lisa. When he left the court he left the drawing with her husband, who later gave it away. Da Vinci did have his assistants copy the drawing before he left Mantua, which shows her leaning on a ledge and pointing to a book. In this painting, however, ledge and book are gone, and the finger points...to nothing.
Not quite a Leonardo da Vinci composition, therefore.
Monday, 03 June 2013
Screen shot: the painting of Vincent's room comes to life with the sun casting moving shadows
Tucked away on a wimp.com website, this three-minute video waits to be clicked on. You click, and as the music rises you see mysterious moving images, barely discernable in the shadows. As they gradually emerge, you realize that some really talented guy has brought several Van Gogh paintings to life: in the seascape the ocean heaves and sweeps the shore; the toddler staggers into Papa's waiting arms; the candle flickers on the table, casting long shadows over the still life.
It took a little searching to find him, but the author is Luca Agnani, an Italian specialist in 3D animation and video editing who in 2010 turned to architectural 3D mapping. This in turn led him to creating spectacular light effects on building facades in his native Italy but abroad as well. Major Italian festivals also call on his talents to create his work in places as varied as the Barrakuda Festival in Croatia and on the Santuary of San Michele in connection with the UNESCO awards.
I was able to contact him in Italy to ask him a few questions.
The link: http://m.wimp.com/paintingslife/
Thursday, 16 May 2013
"Mountainous Landscape with River Valley and Abbey at Evening Light",
Carl Gustav Carus, one artist whose work is exhibited at the "De l'Allemagne" exhibition
"De l'Allemagne - 1800-1939" is a major exhibition taking place at the Louvre through 24 June 2013. With over 200 works on view, the museum makes a significant case for achieving its goal: offering reflection on the main themes influencing and structuring German thinking in the announced period of the 19th century through to the eve of the World War II. These artworks are in conjuction with presentation of Germany's great writers and thinkers, especially Goethe. Most of the art has never been shown in France, and the breadth of the period covered is without precedent.
Nevertheless, the German coordinators (principally the Centre Allemand d'Histoire de l'Art, or CAHA) and certain critics have judged that the exhibition has been diverted from its original goal, to present a dark image of Germany, one possessed by its own mythology and the idealization associated with the Nazi Party and the War.
Indeed, there are questions to be raised by the choices the curators made. It seems odd that the Bauhaus and Die Brücke movements are significantly missing. How could this period be represented without showing Kandinsky? Kirchner?
The Figaro of 14 April 2013 cited a letter to Die Zeit from Henri Loyrette, President and Director of the Louvre and one of the two exhibition curators. He said that he was "surprised and deeply hurt" and "shocked by openly franco-phobic remarks" made in the German publication. "The accusations aiming to make one believe the museum sought to give a sinister vision of Germany are totally unfounded... We had no other objective than to bring about discovery of the richness, diversity and inventiveness of German painting from 1800 to 1939."
The CAHA doesn't quite see it that way, however. In response to the media storm in Europe since the exhibition opening on 28 March, it has published a press release on its site stating its position, of which I translate extracts below.
"Originally, it was proposed to us to show in Paris a variation on the exhibition 'Weimar Classicism - A Culture of Sensuality'...so it was with pleasure that we responded to the idea of Henri Loyrette...to fill out our project and develop with our Louvre colleagues an extended and more general exhibition...Over the past year the CAHA took, as it should, a lesser role in the material organization of the exhibition.
We nevertheless trusted in the certainty that the guidelines we had developed together would not be altered at all. The CAHA did not participate in writing the catalog, it was not associated with preparing the press kit, nor the writing of the ... exhibition informational notices and audioguides, although several times we proposed our involvement, as a partner, in carrying out these various tasks.
It was only at the openings for the press and the public that we could see the exhibition for the first time in its entirety. We were surprised especially by the texts guiding the visitor through the rooms; they suggested a close collaboration between certain complex question from art history and idea and various events and political currents, taking for leitmotif the Apollo/Dionysius dichotomy. In the same way, the composition of the last room, the final design of which was never discussed with the CAHA, astonished us. While we did indeed clearly find in the exhibition's first sections the project we had agreed on together, taking as central thread some of the major issues Goethe dealt with and their influence up to modern art, we nevertheless had to recognize its absence in the last room and in the texts accompanying visitors on the exhibition circuit. Thus we learned unfortunately just before the opening that the sections we had proposed on Expressionism, the Bauhaus, the positive utopia of crystalline formations and the study of clouds had been renounced.
At first we decided not to express our concern and dismay, to not spoil the exhibition's success; with the impressive series of major works it showed, it could indeed cause the public to discover the many facets of art in Germany. It was only after having been directly contacted by critics considering that the exhibition had an unfortunate tendency to give credit to the "Sonderweg", the "solitary path" German art took, that we said that in all honesty we could not and would not assume responsibility for this turn that the exhibition seemed to have taken in parts, and in which we played no role."
A presentation of German art as tormented, dark and dangerous, as the German conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says?
"It's the opposite of what we were trying to do", says the Louvre's head curator of the painting department.
"De l"Allemagne, 1800-1939"
From March 28 to June 24, 2013
Hall Napoléon, under the Pyramid
Combined ticket (permanent collections + exhibition): €15
Open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Night opening until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays
+33 (0)1 40 20 53 17