Art Of The Day Weekly
#282 - from 6 December 2012 to 12 December 2012
Van Eyck, altarpiece of the Mystical Lamb. Macrophotography, Pilgrims. From the website Closer to Van Eyck, Rediscovering the Ghent Altarpiece (http://closertovaneyck.kikirpa.be)
IN THE AIR
Van Eyck, a record-breaking restoration
GHENT – ‘It only took them five years to build it. We will do better; it should only take us seven’. It is said the persons in charge of restoring The adoration of the mystic lamb not only demonstrates their sense of humor, but also confirms the project was very vast. This giant composition -3.40 over 4.40 m – done at the workshops of Hubert and Jan van Eyck and inaugurated in 1432 in the cathedral of Saint-Bavon, has experienced anything but a peaceful, pastoral existence. The best-known episode is the theft of two of the eighteen panels in the 1930s. The author–the sacristan- returned one of the panels but the second one is still ‘on the run.’ The pilgrimages the master piece between Germany and France, the sale of Adam and Eve to the city of Brussels for indecent exposure are all just as colorful. Following a fifteen- month study period by some of the greatest world specialists and financed by the Getty Institute, the restorers settled own to work. They carry out their work behind a window at the musée des Beaux-Arts right under the public’s eye, and it is not something they will be lacking. While the state of the wood is surprisingly good, the difficulty lies in taking off the countless layers of varnish accumulated over five hundred years and in particular those of the restoration in 1950-51 and the more recent ones, based on synthetic products that drink up and alter the colors. The mission started in October 2012 and should end in 2017. The altarpiece will then be set up in a new area in the cathedral where AC and heating will protect it from all perverse effects of humidity and temperature differences.
The restoration of the Mystic lamb may be observed during opening hours of the musée des Beaux-Arts.
Coloured model bust of Queen Nefertiti, New Kingdom, 18th dynasty ca. 1340 BCE; limestone and plaster © National Museum in Berlin, Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection; photo: Sandra Steiß
Nefertiti, a German centennial
BERLIN - The bust of Nefertiti, one of the best known works of Egyptian art, was a bone of contention in a ‘battle of restitution’, way back before the Arab Spring. It is exceptionally fine, with its original impeccable polychromy and in stucco from the XIVth century B.C. details the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaton, who founded a new capital -El Amarna - and a new cult, with Aton the sun god as the central figure. This ‘icon’ is not kept in Cairo but rather in the Neues Museum. To celebrate the centennial of its discovery by the team led by archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, and to confirm the pretention of ‘universal’ museums to keep the major pieces of universal heritage even when the modes under which they were acquired leave much to be desired, the museum dedicates an exhibition to the queen. The former will present daily life at the time, showing some masterpieces as well as the pigments and tools used by the sculptors, or the utility ceramics, and help the public finally discover objects that have never been seen since they were unearthed.
• In the Light of Amarna, 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery at Neues Museum, from 7 December 2012 to 13 April 2013.
These exhibitions also open this week
Lissitsky-Kabakov, a Russian dual
EINDHOVEN – Lissitsky-Kabakov, Utopia and Reality is an original initiative by Van Abbemuseum, who asked Ilya and Emilia Kabakov to be the commissaries of an exhibition that combines their works and those of the Russian supremacist. From 1st December 2012 to 28 April 2013.
PARIS - Louis Stettner is ninety years old but remains active and exhibits humanist photography with famous views of Paris and New York. He is exhibited at the Bibliothèque nationale of France. From 11 December 2012 to 27 January 2013.
Lot 7, Salvador Dali, Invitation for the Exposition internationale du Surréalisme, 1938, 11 x 14 cm. Estimate: €500. Courtesy Millon SVV.
Dali, in all shapes and forms
PARIS – While the city is in the midst of a Dalimania with opening hours of the Centre Pompidou exceptionally extended to face the crowds, this sale will surely attract many amateurs. Indeed, it will present a series of works by the Catalan master, starting with estimates for prints as of €200 or an autographed invitation to the Surrealist Exposition in 1938 in Paris at €500. But prices will also soar for the 42 original etchings of Chants de Maldoror or a bronze from 1981, Thésée et le Minotaure, either at €120 000. To keep up the mundane legend there is a series of photographs showing Dali with Yul Brynner, with Amanda Lear, placing models at the Draeger printing press in Montrouge or the most surrealist of all, with a bicycle …
• Dali l’anti-obscurantisme, collection S.G. 7 >December 2012 at hôtel Drouot (SVV Millon).
ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Joachim Koester/Maybe one must begin with some particular places, 2012 (installation view). Courtesy of the artist and Jan Mot Gallery Brussels/Mexico, the Barragan Foundation
Koester rewrites history
‘I work on my passions’ Joachim Koester declared. When we visit the ambitious retrospective exhibition the S.M.A.K. in Gent dedicates to the Danish artist born in 1962, in a labyrinth of non-treated wood, we can appreciate the variety of the former. Over the last two decades Koester has been rebuilding smalls sections of history through installations, videos, photographs and choreographies. Each one of them entails a journey through time, space and history and marvels all amateurs of the bizarre and the unexpected. There is for example the development on the North Pole and the unfruitful trip by Franklin and Andrée, there is a plunge into the universe of Alastair Crowley who dreamt of recreating the abbey of Theleme at Cefalù, in Sicily. And then we have the promenades in the footsteps of Kant, the most regulated man on earth, in Konigsberg, today’s Kaliningrad. Each one of his creations supposes ‘traditional’ research work, while the staging of the work allows the artist’s talent to shine through.
• The exhibition Joachim Koester/Maybe one must begin with some particular places is presented at the S.M.A.K. from 30 November 2012 to 10 March 2013.
OPENINGS OF THE WEEK
With a Hollywood style title in the vein of Irving Stone’s biography of Michel-Angelo, The agony and the ecstasy we all remember well, the aim of this book is serious: to run the census of sacred painting in Brittany, including stained glass and polychrome sculpture, and show the region holds unsuspected wealth that in some way links it to distant Italy. The text, spanning five centuries, from the XVth to the XXth, is brief and a touch too lyrical. But the value of this book lies in the images, offering close-ups on details that are often of difficult access. The saint Mériadec in the church of Pontivy, Saint Marguerite des lambris at Notre-Dame-du-Tertre in Châtelaudren, the Virgin nursing under her dais in Gouézec or the surprising Saint Viviane in wax at the church of Saint-Sulpice in Fougères all come to life. Through their cracks, the veins in the wood and the drippings of the touches of gold we discover another aspect of these works.
• Les larmes et l’extase by Thierry Le Prince and Arnauld Le Brusq, photos by Andrew Paul Sandford, Ouest-France, 2012, 224 p., €49
LENS - The Louvre Lens, an offshoot of the Louvre in Paris, opens to the public on 12 December 2012.
LONDON - Elizabeth Price is the winner of the Turner Prize 2012.
MIAMI - The contemporary art fair Art Basel Miami Beach is being held from 5 to 8 December 2012.
PARIS - The 7th Biennale des Métiers d'art is being held at Carrousel du Louvre from 5 to 9 December 2012.
PHNOM PENH - The 5th edition of the Photo Phnom Penh festival will be held from 8 to 13 December 2012.