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What are you looking at? | David R. Marshall – Bernini’s Raimondi Chapel in S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome 1638–48

Bernini’s Raimondi Chapel in S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome 1638–48 David R. Marshall The Raimondi chapel in S. Pietro in Montorio is proof of the triumph of sculpture over painting. At 8.30am on a cold winter’s morning, when the church opens, it is the one well-lit part of the church (Fig. 1). Opposite, Sebastiano del Piombo’s Christ at the Column is plunged in gloom, from which it is barely rescued by artificial lighting (Fig. 2). To be sure it is a question of condition, but then the condition of the Raimondi chapel is not great either, with loose pieces of marble lying about, but it does not affect the experience. What stands out is the sarcophagus below the right hand Raimondi (Monsignor Girolamo, died 1628) (Fig. 3). The Bernini conceit of hinging back the top of the sarcophagus (which I…

Review | Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists by David R. Marshall

Thoughts on Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists David R. Marshall Alain de Botton’s new book is of interest because it directly addresses an issue important for atheistic art historians: if religion is bad, why was the art it produced so good? The usual answer is either (a) that religion is irrelevant to what really matters in such art—it embodies the individuals that created it, rather than the institutions that sponsored it— or (b) it is all a matter of history and so the question is beside the point. The first answer makes particular sense to those whose personal experience is that good things come about in spite of institutions, not because of them. De Botton takes the opposite tack: that it is a given that intellectual bases of religions are nonsense—myths left over from times of ignorance—but we should…

JOB: Lecturer in Art (Critical and Theoretical Studies)

Lecturer in Art (Critical and Theoretical Studies) School of Art – Faculty of the VCA and MCM Salary: Level A $57,351 – $77,825 p.a. or Level B $81,925 – $97,283 p.a. plus 17% superannuation. Level of appointment is subject to qualifications and experience. The position of Lecturer in Critical and Theoretical Studies will entail participation in the undergraduate and postgraduate teaching program and contribution to the institution’s research and culture through honours and postgraduate supervision, mentoring and through the appointee’s own research initiatives and publications. Close date: 5 February 2012 For Position Description, Selection Criteria and application details see the Melbourne University website.

Opinion: On Facadism

Opinion – David R. Marshall On Facadism The Myer’s Lonsdale Street Store is now a vast open building site, with the Lonsdale Street and Little Bourke Street facades propped up with a scaffolding of huge steel girders that occupy half of each street. Conspicuously absent is the façade of Lonsdale House, an Art Deco façade demolished in 2010, in spite of having a heritage overlay, in order to provide truck access to the site. According to a widely expressed view, facadism—the preserving of old facades while putting up a wholly new building behind them—is bad, because it is the integrity of the building as a whole that matters. This is nonsense, and the effect has been to strip away a key line of defence for buildings like Lonsdale House. This was an example of reverse facadism, when an Art Deco…

Exhibition Review: Gabriel Metsu – National Gallery of Art, Washington by John Weretka

Exhibition Review Gabriel Metsu  1629–1667 National Gallery of Art, Washington April 17 – July 24 2011 Reviewed by John Weretka Difficult as this is to believe for a painter of his significance, this is only the second comprehensive exhibition of Gabriel Metsu’s work, the last having occurred in 1966. Although confined to just two rooms in the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington and exhibiting almost forty of the painter’s panels, this show nonetheless makes a significant contribution to the study of Metsu, a painter whose works are confined largely to two decades (the 1650s and 1660s) and number scarcely over 130. The first room of the exhibition is largely, though not wholly, dedicated to the genre works of the 1650s and the second to domestic interiors popularised by Vermeer that occupied Metsu increasingly in the…

John Weretka – Review: Pastel Portraits: Images of Eighteenth Century Europe. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 17 May 2011 – 14 August 2011

Exhibition Review Pastel Portraits: Images of Eighteenth Century Europe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 17 May 2011 – 14 August 2011 Reviewed by John Weretka The eighteenth-century pastel portrait is the subject of a compact show of about forty images from 1711–1801 being hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (17 May 17–18 August 2011).  Too often derided as a minor art, placing it on a level with other domestic entertainments such as the silhouette, pastel is revealed in this show as a highly nuanced, delicate and beautiful art form that in a sense has suffered by being too closely allied to the tastes of its own time.  In fact, as the inclusion of pastels by artists working elsewhere in oils shows, pastel was a worthy subject of attention for artists who would otherwise make themselves known…

Exhibition Review: Caroline Jordan: Eugene von Guérard: Nature Revealed, at the National Gallery of Victoria

Exhibition Review ‘Terribly true to nature’: A review of Eugene von Guérard: Nature Revealed Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, until 7 August 2011, followed by Brisbane and Canberra Reviewed by Caroline Jordan One of the big clichés of Australian art is that the first generation of landscape painters saw the landscape ‘through European eyes’. Fred McCubbin wrote in the 1890s that titans such as John Glover and Eugene von Guérard of the 1850s and 60s ‘ could not see the blue-green of the wattle… etc’. This was largely self-promotion on the part of McCubbin and his Australian-born Impressionist mates, artists of an up-and-coming generation who had been trained by von Guérard at the National Gallery School in the 1870s. As these Young Turks saw it, it fell to them to strip off the Old World blinkers and show the New…

Exhibition Review: Lorenzo Lotto, Rome Scuderie del Quirinale, until 12 June. David R. Marshall

Exhibition Review Lorenzo Lotto Rome Scuderie del Quirinale, until 12 June Reviewed by David R. Marshall The last big Lotto show was in 1998, but I suspect this one doesn’t quite match it. The illustrations to the introductory essays in the catalogue indicate the ones that got away. But even so, this is an impressive exhibition, mainly for the altarpieces. For those who do not know the Scuderie, it is the old papal stables on Piazza del Quirinale. It has two long and wide floors that once housed horses. It is one of the best Roman venues, as these spaces are roomy and flexible, although the transition between levels can be awkward. In this case the lower floor is devoted to large altarpieces. These are mounted above altar-table like structures on a plinth, which sets them at a good height…

Review – Watteau: The Drawings. Royal Academy, London. 12 March – 5 June 2011. David R. Marshall

Watteau: The Drawings Royal Academy, London. 12 March – 5 June 2011 Reviewed by David R. Marshall This exhibition is organized for the Royal Academy and curated by Pierre Rosenberg and Louis-Antoine Prat, and based on their 1996 catalogue of Watteau drawings. In his essay Prat points out that the number of drawings (90) is less than at the big Watteau exhibition of 1984-85, but that the selection is more focused and unproblematic. The bulk of the drawings are from the Louvre and British Museum, but there are a number from other collections not often seen. The drawings are displayed in the Sackler wing of the Royal Academy, already showing its age, with it’s weird open lift shaft between the exterior facades of two buildings, and gallery spaces that work well enough in a routine way. On a Monday lunchtime late…

Comment: Thoughts on the Aesthetic Movement Exhibition. David R. Marshall

Comment: Thoughts on the Aesthetic Movement Exhibition David R. Marshall These are some thoughts after seeing the exhibition, The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900, at the Victoria and Albert Museum (till July 17th 2011, see the review by Kim Clayton-Green on the MAN website). What struck me about this exhibition was how familiar it was, on both a personal and intellectual level. On the personal level it helps one make sense of one’s own familial history: that photo of great-grandmother in strange loose fitting costume with metal armlets in a dirty green and gold frame, or that pair of brass candlesticks in the form of rearing cobras remembered from childhood and spotted in an obscure corner of the exhibition. But more importantly it was familiar ideologically. The idea that the purpose of art is to enrich the lives…

Call for Papers: Sixth International Conference on the Arts in Society

Call for Papers Sixth International Conference on the Arts in Society 9-11 May 2011, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Berlin, Germany http://www.Arts-Conference.com/ Deadline: 22 March 2011 The International Conference on the Arts in Society and the International Journal of the Arts in Society provide a scholarly platform for discussions of the arts and art practices, enabling an interdisciplinary conversation on the role of the arts in society. They are intended as a place for critical engagement, examination and experimentation of ideas that connect the arts to their contexts in the world – in studios and classrooms, in galleries and museums, on stage, on the streets and in communities. The 2011 conference will explore the intersection between Art + Science, held in conjunction with the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) 2011-2012 Topic of the Year – “ArteFacts. Knowledge…

EVCS: Carl Villis ‘Giambattista Tiepolo, Francesco Algarotti and The Finding of Moses’

The European Visual Culture Seminar presents: Carl Villis, Conservator of Paintings before 1800, National Gallery of Victoria Giambattista Tiepolo, Francesco Algarotti and The Finding of Moses in the National Gallery of Victoria Between 1958 and 2008, the NGV’s large eighteenth-century Venetian canvas The Finding of Moses carried an attribution to Sebastiano Ricci. In 2009 this was changed to Giambattista Tiepolo after an extended technical examination and a major conservation treatment. This talk will trace the long history of the ‘new’ Tiepolo attribution, and will introduce the theory that the work is another product of the fruitful collaboration between Tiepolo and his friend and patron, Count Francesco Algarotti. Date: Monday 28 March 2011 6:30 pm Venue: Room 150 Elisabeth Murdoch Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville All Welcome Drinks and nibbles provided (gold coin donation appreciated). The seminar will be followed by…

Call for Sessions 39th Annual AAH Conference, Open University (UK)

Call for Sessions 39th Annual Association Art Historians Conference, 29-31 March, Open University, Milton Keynes UK Keynote Speakers: Lord Puttnam CBE, Chancellor of The Open University Penelope Curtis, Director of Tate Britain Call for Sessions The Open University 2012 invites session submissions for the 38th AAH Annual Conference. In line with the founding mission of The Open University – “to be open to people, places, methods and ideas” – the 2012 Annual Conference looks forward to welcoming all those interested in the History of Art. To complement the sessions, plenaries and special interest sessions will celebrate the strengths and reflect on the challenges that face art history today while receptions, book fair and visits will provide opportunities for delegates to relax and network. AAH2012 conference will include sessions on art and artifacts, issues and debates that reflect the diversity and…

Review: Piers Baker-Bates, A Collector’s Eye: Cranach To Pissarro at the Walker Art Gallery Liverpool 18 February–15 May 2011

A Collector’s Eye: Cranach To Pissarro at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 18 February–15 May 2011 Reviewed by Piers Baker-Bates. While exhibitions that showcase a private collection can be the proverbial curate’s egg both in terms of the quality of the works on display and their attributions, this new exhibition is never anything but stimulating and thought-provoking. The works come from what is described as ‘the Schorr Collection assembled by private collector David J. Lewis for his family interests’ which is ‘one of the largest collections of Old Master paintings amassed in England since World War II.’ David Lewis remains an anonymous figure throughout, and the visitor learns nothing about the man himself, but as a patron of art his particular taste is clearly signposted in the thematic notices that divide up the exhibition. Lewis has had a ‘professional’ adviser, Christopher…

MAN Opinion – David R. Marshall: Thoughts on the NGV’s Latest Acquisition

Opinion – David R. Marshall Thoughts on the NGV’s Latest Acquisition It was announced last week that the National Gallery of Victoria has acquired a new work: a late, and very Raphaelesque work, by Francesco Francia and his sons, Virgin and Child with the young Saint John in a garden of roses (c. 1515). We hope to hear more about this on the MAN website in due course, but here it may be worth noting the shabby treatment of the announcement in the Sunday Age. Over a picture of the director with the new painting was the heading ‘Gallery fights ‘moribund’ tag’. This turns out to be the complaint, here voiced by the journalist responsible for the item, Gabriella Coslovich, that the NGV does not have enough contemporary art. The editors of The Age have seen fit to give Coslovich a…