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Giacometti, Matisse or Schuiten? Roman Antiquity ou Gandhara civilisation? The art of living in Florence or in Rajasthan? Major exhibitions are, more than ever, an invitation to travel through space and history.

Michael Witz the Younger (c. 1510-1588), Innsbruck, Parade armour, c. 1550 (c. 30 kg), Landeszeughaus Graz, Landesmuseum Joanneum, © LMJ, Photo: Matthias Wimler (from exhibition at Tinguely Museum, Basel)


BASEL - The genesis of the Armour & Gown exhibition lies in another exhibition. In 1991, an unforgettable, indeed dazzling, tournament was staged at the Hofburg in Vienna under the title of Gowns as Armour. Armour from the Hofburg Collection of Arms and Armour, the world's greatest display of this exquisite form of cultural achievement, though now largely viewed as taboo, jousted with gowns designed by Roberto Capucci, a leading Italian couturier. This project is intended as homage to the Vienna presentation, but goes beyond it in dramatics and dimension. These exclusive exhibits – more than 60 suits of armour and 12 gowns as well as numerous separate parts such as helmets, breastplates, cuirasses, cuisses and greaves, halberds and lances fill the large hall and the entire gallery and stairs.

  • Tinguely Museum, until August 30
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    BADEN-BADEN – The movement of the Blue Cavalier (der Blaue Reiter), born from the Expressionism and founded in 1911, had among its members some of the most famous artists of the beginning of the XXth century: August Macke, Alexei Jawlensky and, of course, Wassily Kandinsky. These artists were great lovers of lively colours in which they built landscapes and portraits, they built bridges between figurative and abstract art, and formed a tightly knit community. Their works shown in this event come from the Lembauchhaus in Munich, currently under restoration, and include the photographs taken by Gabriele Münter, who was Kandinsky’s companion, between 1902 and 1914.

  • Frieder Burda Museum, until November 11
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    ROME – Titus was rewarded with a beautiful arc of triumph in Rome for his conquest of Jerusalem and the treasure of the Temple (another consequence of his campaign was the Great Jewish Diaspora). Two thousand years after his short reign, an exhibition focuses on the three members of the Flavian dynasty: Titus himself, as well as his younger brother Domitian, the one with the terrible reputation, and above all their father Titus Vespasian, founder of the dynasty. It is organized in an ideal location – the Coliseum they themselves had built. With the help of fragments of columns, of a large marble map of Rome, of statues and busts of famous men, the circle of conquerors and courtesans has been recreated. Some of the pieces are shown at the Forum, in the Curia, which will reopen exceptionally to the public after a long period of being closed. Furthermore, an external itinerary marks by special signs the main monuments commissioned by the Flavian dynasty.

  • Coliseum, until January 10 2010
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    BONN – If one mentions Pakistan or Afghanistan, we create fear. If we say Gandhara, one thinks of Alexander the Great and the Silk Road. Gandhara though is on the territory of the two afore-mentioned States … The exhibition in Bonn brings back to life the first five centuries of our time in this crossroad region. The 300 objects – sculptures, low-reliefs, jewels and coins – document a golden age and confirm the role of Gandhara in transmitting Buddhism beyond the Indian borders. One of the most spectacular manifestations has now disappeared: the large Buddhas sculpted in the rocks of Bamyan, targeted by the Taliban in 2001.

  • Kunst und Ausstellungshalle, until August 10
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    LONDON – Those who visit Rajasthan can not always suspect the treasures they may find there, hidden in the princely palaces. A special European exhibit focuses on the collection of the maharajah of Jodhpur, usually visible at the Mehrangarh Museum: some fifty paintings that resume the local production from the XVIIth to the XIXth centuries. In which one can measure all the importance of the patron: in the middle of the XVIIIth century, Bakhat Singh asked his artists to praise the art of living, sensuality, the beauty of Nature. His grandson Man Singh had less profane concerns: he wanted the major philosophical issues such as the origin of the cosmos or the religious myths to be clarified. The two «tendencies» are illustrated with the same profusion of colors and the same love for details

  • British Museum, until August 23
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    BASEL – The Beyeler foundation is dedicating its summer exhibition to one to the large public’s favorite artist: Alberto Giacometti. He is also one off the artists who has most counted for the art dealer: he seems to have dealt with nearly three hundred of his works. The retrospective integrates the whole clan: his brother Diego, of course, who was his collaborator for decades, but his father Giovanni, one of the great Swiss post-impressionists with Segantini, his uncle Augusto who made precocious attempts in the field of Abstraction, and even his mother and sister who were his models. Femmes de Venise, la Boule suspendue, le Nez, la Main, le Chien: the main masterpieces are present, in a very original setting. His Petit Homme sur socle, for example, truly minute, enjoys a whole room all to himself, to illustrate Giacometti’s very particular concept of what is monumental, which can be expressed independently from any effect of size.

  • Beyeler Foundation, until October 11
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    LONDON – Here is the real puzzle exhibition: how to present one of the main representatives of Land Art while remaining locked between four walls? The name of Richard Long (born in 1945) invites us to travel: to Scotland, to Bolivia, to Spain, to find the traces of the paths he drew, the shape of the stones he put together, the mud walls built here and there. All these works have been continually and definitively modified by time and by the elements. Luckily, Richard Long took photographs and also limited himself to create in the space of the galleries. The retrospective at the Tate therefore allows us to synthesize, in 80 pieces, nearly half a century of creation, from his first work in 1967, the straight line drawn by a walk, to the chalk and granite circles in Alaska, in India or in the Sahara.

  • Tate Britain, until September 6
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    MATISSE 1917-1941

    MADRID – The organizers’ presupposition is clear: the Matisse of the avant-gardes (prior to WW I) is very often shown, the Matisse of the final years (the cut out papers) is also. But the Matisse of the period between the two is at a loss of images… hence the chronologic period cut out, 1917-41. It is illustrated by nearly 80 works – paintings, drawings as well as sculptures – borrowed from some fifty different institutions. Given the crisis and the departure of his Russian clients, who commissioned huge compositions, Matisse decided to isolate himself in the light of Nice. He went through some «bad periods», at the beginning of the 1930s for example, during which he spent many years without painting on his easel. But he constantly improves his talent, searching for new ways through drawing, through nudes, in the themes of the balcony and the window, in geometric motifs from Islam. In 1941, he almost died following a serious operation. He survived and over the last twelve years he created a totally new chapter …

  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, until September 20
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    BERLIN – A surrealist cave of Ali Baba is how we could qualify the collection of German couple Ulla and Heiner Pientzsch, who made his fortune in the plastic industry. From Masson (Massacre), to Max Ernst (a rich contribution including in particular metal sculptures from the end of the forties), Balthus (a very beautiful portrait of translator and poet Pierre Leyris with his wife), as well as works by Dorothea Tanning, Delvaux, Magritte, Leonor Fini, Dali, or Bellmer… In total 160 works that offer a complete panorama of one of the main movements of the XXth century with bridges launched towards the abstract expressionism of Pollock and his consorts.

  • Neue Nationalgalerie, until November 22
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    MILANO –Scapigliatura could be translated by the word Bohemian. The movement it refers to is hardly known beyond the Italian borders, and yet it had a great influence during the second half of the XIXth century in Lombardy. The artists that were part of it refused the principles of academic art, and wanted to find a new means to express their emotions and the lights of Nature, following a path similar to that of the Impressionists. With nearly 250 works by some forty artists, the Palazzo Reale offers a complete panorama including Filippo Carcano, Tranquillo Cremona or the most famous Medardo Rosso and Gaetano Previati.

  • Palazzo Reale, until November 22
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    LAUSANNE – When an exhibition presents works scattered throughout the museums in the world, it plays a useful role. The interest of the mission is increased tenfold when the paintings selected are from private collections. It is what the Fondation Hermitage chose to do to celebrate its 25th anniversary: to explore the very wealthy Swiss heritage. At the same time it marks an allusion to the inaugural exhibit in 1984 – « Impressionism in the collections of French-speaking Switzerland » - and a tribute to the loyalty of the lenders. The whole of the XXth century is reviewed – from a Valley of the Arc by Cézanne to Three disks in the air by Calder up to a beautiful selection of Baselitz, Picasso and Dubuffet. The «locals from the region» are well represented – Vallotton, Hodler, Giacometti and even the lesser known Alice Bailly – and there are of course many (re)discoveries, from the delicate square Bonnard, a Nu à la lampe, to the large Max Ernst, Ange du foyer, finally visible up close.

  • Hermitage Foundation, until October 25
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    MADRID – The last great Spanish artist, a descendant of Vélasquez, Zurbarán and Goya: that is how the Prado wishes to present Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923) to whom a retrospective is dedicated. Hardly known beyond his country’s borders – even though a great number of foreign institutions keep works by him such as Ca’ Pesaro in Venice or the Orsay museum (Return from fishing ) – the artist from Valencia excelled both in beach and light scenes as well as in portraits, following a path parallel to the post-Impressionists. The exhibit brings together over one hundred paintings, including the famous series of fourteen panels painted for the Hispanic Society of New York on the Visions of Spain. Two years ago the Sorolla-Sargent retrospective at the Petit Palais museum had given the painter the honors he deserves, as he had not been the subject of a retrospective since 1963. At auctions he is among the highest rated artists of his time (4.7 million euros in 2001 for Bath time ). All that is missing is that the public at large give him his well-deserved recognition.

  • Prado Museum, until September 6
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    FLORENCE – The major Florentine centuries are the XVth and XVIth centuries, the birth and expansion of the Renaissance. Our perception of the Tuscan capital is much vaguer beyond that period. As an example, regarding the XVIIIth century (or the Settecento), while we can attribute the “veduttisti” as Canaletto to Venice, who can we place next to the Arno? It is what the exhibition at the Uffizi wishes to do, in 150 chosen pieces: to illustrate a period of transition that corresponds to the last fires of the Baroque period and to the dynasty of the Medici. Next to the masterpieces of decorative art (of which the mosaics of hard stone), here we see appear ill-known interpreters of neo-classic art, bronze sculptors (Foggini), good fresco artists who were active in the villas on the hills (Giovanni Domenico Ferretti), landscape artists (Zocchi). The real stars remain nevertheless the foreigners who came through, such as Magnasco, Vanvitelli and all the travellers of the Grand Tour, among which Zoffany and Fabre are the most notable representatives

  • Uffizi Galleries, until September 30
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    Luc Schuiten's vision of a sustainable future

    BRUSSELS - The deterioration of our environment, the weather changes and the damage made to biodiversity increasingly give way to negative and stressful visions of a planet's integrity affected by human aggression. Based on the outlines of solutions already given by bio-mimetism, Luc Schuiten offers on the contrary utopian visions that suggest we group together around positive creativity and invent spaces that represent one of the fundamental principles of life: life creates conditions favourable to life.

  • Cinquantenaire Museum, until August 30
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    ZURICH – This is a new discovery. At the end of the XIXth century, Albert von Keller (1844-1920) was a real European star. The founder of the Munich Secession, a painter of the high society, author of nudes that are slightly shocking, gruesomely pale and immobile, a music lover (he admired Chopin and Wagner, and was himself an excellent pianist), he was as well-known as his competitors of the time, Franz von Stück or Lovis Corinth. Of course the exhibition includes Resurrection of Jaïre’s daughter from the Munich Pinakothek, his major work. It is well placed among the 130 works – this is the first important retrospective in the last century.

  • Kunsthaus, untl October 4
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