THE ART OF SUM­MER

Es­cape the sea­sonal tor­por in a gallery, says Christo­pher Allen

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Visual Arts -

THE Na­tional Gallery of Vic­to­ria has de­cided the di­rect ap­proach is best. It is con­fronting our ten­dency to drift away for a month or two of beachside vil­leg­giatura dur­ing the hot months with the slo­gan ‘‘ Sum­mer is best spent in­doors’’. The NGV does in­deed have a wide choice of worth­while ex­hi­bi­tions that can be en­joyed in air­con­di­tioned com­fort on hot days, es­pe­cially Ra­di­ance: The Neo

Im­pres­sion­ists, which will be re­viewed in this col­umn next week. And if all the he­do­nism of an Aus­tralian sum­mer makes you pon­der the ineluctable end of all things, you will en­joy the

Four Horse­men ex­hi­bi­tion dis­cussed here some weeks ago.

The NGV also has an im­pres­sive ex­hi­bi­tion of large-scale pho­to­graphs by Jeff Wall, as well as a show of Thomas De­mand, which will be re­viewed later in the sum­mer. The Anatomy

Les­son, re­viewed here last week, con­tin­ues at the Ian Pot­ter Mu­seum. Else­where in Vic­to­ria, the Jef­frey Smart ret­ro­spec­tive has just moved from Ade­laide to the Tar­raWarra Mu­seum of Art at Healesville, while Bal­larat Art Gallery

has Vi­sions of Ja­pan and the Morn­ing­ton

Penin­sula Art Gallery is show­ing The Art of Sci­ence and Vi­sions Splen­did: Land­scapes of Phillip Is­land and West­ern Port.

The main ex­hi­bi­tion in Syd­ney is the Fran­cis Ba­con ret­ro­spec­tive at the Art Gallery of NSW, re­viewed here two weeks ago, a par­tic­u­larly strin­gent an­ti­dote to any light-hearted hol­i­day mood or Christ­mas benev­o­lence that you may be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. On a more up­beat note, the great­est mil­i­tary leader in his­tory is cel­e­brated in the Aus­tralian Mu­seum’s Alexan­der the

Great ex­hi­bi­tion. Else­where in Syd­ney, Anish Kapoor’s work is at the Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art and the first show of John Power’s paint­ings con­tin­ues at the Univer­sity of Syd­ney Art Gallery; the Ni­chol­son Mu­seum, mean­while, is dis­play­ing its col­lec­tion of Cypriot an­tiq­ui­ties in Aphrodite’s Is­land.

In Can­berra, the Na­tional Gallery of Aus­tralia’s Toulouse-Lautrec ex­hi­bi­tion has opened re­cently and will be re­viewed here in a few weeks. Bris­bane has the sev­enth Asia-Pa­cific Tri­en­nial un­til March, as well as an ex­hi­bi­tion of late work by Ian Fair­weather. Fi­nally, to­wards the end of sum­mer, Ade­laide will open

Turner from the Tate on Fe­bru­ary 8. Christo­pher Allen’s pick of the Aus­tralian ex­hi­bi­tions worth trav­el­ling to:

Mel­bourne (and re­gional Vic­to­ria) NGV: Neo-Im­pres­sion­ism, to March 17 Tar­raWarra: Jef­frey Smart, to March 31

Syd­ney AGNSW: Fran­cis Ba­con, to Fe­bru­ary 17 Aus­tralian Mu­seum: Alexan­der the Great, to April 28

Can­berra

NGA: Toulouse-Lautrec, to April 2

Ade­laide

AGSA: Turner, Fe­bru­ary 8 to May 19

There is, as usual, a vast choice of sig­nif­i­cant ex­hi­bi­tions across the world, of which only a few can be men­tioned. The Vermeer ex­hi­bi­tion at the Scud­erie in Rome was re­viewed here a few weeks ago, and there will be an­other Vermeer show at the Na­tional Gallery in Lon­don in the mid­dle of next year. An im­por­tant sur­vey of Vermeer’s con­tem­po­rary Gabriel Metsu was held in Dublin, Amsterdam and Washington in 2010-11, and this has now been fol­lowed by the publi­ca­tion of an ad­mirable cat­a­logue raisonne by the ex­hi­bi­tion’s cu­ra­tor, Adri­aan Wai­boer (Yale, 2012), a beau­ti­ful book and an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to our un­der­stand­ing of Dutch paint­ing in the Golden Age.

Lovers of the paint­ings and draw­ing of Raphael may be able to see no fewer than three ex­hi­bi­tions dur­ing the sum­mer: the Teylers Mu­seum in Haar­lem, in part­ner­ship with the Al­bertina of Vi­enna, is putting on what is sur­pris­ingly the first Raphael ex­hi­bi­tion to be held in the Nether­lands. In Frankfurt, mean­while, the Staedel has an show of his draw­ings, while the Lou­vre has Late Raphael as well as, sep­a­rately, the draw­ings of his chief as­sis­tant Gi­ulio Ro­mano.

Also in Paris, the Cen­tre Pom­pi­dou has a com­pre­hen­sive if not de­fin­i­tive show of the work of Sal­vador Dali, in­clud­ing loans from Spain and Amer­ica and even the New York Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art’s The Per­sis­tence of Me­mory, prob­a­bly his most fa­mous paint­ing. Equally com­pre­hen­sive is the Ed­ward Hop­per ex­hi­bi­tion, which opened last year at the Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid and is now in Paris at the Grand Palais un­til the end of Jan­uary. The show is ac­com­pa­nied by an out­stand­ing cat­a­logue.

In Lon­don, the Na­tional Gallery has Se­duced by Art, an ex­hi­bi­tion that con­sid­ers re­la­tions be­tween paint­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy. From late Fe­bru­ary, it will have the im­por­tant Fed­erico Barocci show that’s now in the US at the Saint Louis Art Mu­seum — of which more be­low. The Tate, mean­while, has The Pre-Raphaelites: Vic­to­rian Avant-Garde. The Bri­tish Mu­seum has an ex­hi­bi­tion de­voted to art from the iceage pe­riod, and from March will present its first ex­hi­bi­tion de­voted to Pompeii and Her­cu­la­neum.

In Ox­ford, the Ash­molean cel­e­brates the bi­cen­te­nary of the birth of Ed­ward Lear with an ex­hi­bi­tion cov­er­ing his work as an or­nitho­log­i­cal il­lus­tra­tor, travel land­scapist and au­thor of non­sense verse. In Madrid, fi­nally, the Prado has The Young Van Dyck, while the Thyssen-Bornemisza has Gau­guin and the Voy­age to the Ex­otic.

Among im­por­tant ex­hi­bi­tions in the US, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­seum in New York is pre­sent­ing Matisse: In Search of True Paint­ing, which be­gan at the Pom­pi­dou and then trav­elled to the Statens Mu­seum for Kunst in Copen­hagen; the orig­i­nal French sub­ti­tle, Paires et Se­ries, as well as the ti­tle in Den­mark, Matisse: Dou­bles and Vari­a­tions, both give a bet­ter idea of the theme and con­tent of an ex­hi­bi­tion that is fully dealt with in a valu­able cat­a­logue. The Met­ro­pol­i­tan’s Bernini: Sculpt­ing in Clay presents the clay models by the great sculp­tor that were scaled up and ex­e­cuted in mar­ble or other ma­te­ri­als by his enor­mous team of as­sis­tants.

The Fed­erico Barocci ex­hi­bi­tion, which is at Saint Louis un­til Jan­uary and will be in Lon­don from late Fe­bru­ary, is also ac­com­pa­nied by an out­stand­ing cat­a­logue (Saint Louis/Yale 2012), now by far the best schol­arly book on an im­por­tant and at­trac­tive artist who some­times falls be­tween the stools of high Re­nais­sance and baroque.

At the very be­gin­ning of the story of mod­ern art, the Getty in Los An­ge­les presents Florence at the Dawn of the Re­nais­sance, and si­mul­ta­ne­ously Disegno: Draw­ing in Europe, which re­veals the range of man­ner­ist draw­ing as it spread from Italy to France and other north­ern coun­tries dur­ing the 16th cen­tury.

So there are some ex­cep­tional in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tions this north­ern win­ter, and by now read­ers are prob­a­bly work­ing out whether they have enough fre­quent flyer points for a round the world trip via Europe and Amer­ica. Fail­ing that, you can al­ways or­der the cat­a­logues on­line or, bet­ter still, sup­port good book­shops in Aus­tralia by buy­ing them in per­son.

If you are stay­ing in the south­ern hemi­sphere and slow­ing down to the in­tel­lec­tual tor­por of an Aussie sum­mer, there are sev­eral very fine ex­hi­bi­tions to en­joy, not only worth a day’s visit to the gallery, but in sev­eral cases de­serv­ing a trip to the host city, es­pe­cially when the mu­seum or the city in ques­tion has more than one event of in­ter­est.

Clockwise from top, Morn­ing,

Yar­ragon Sid­ing by Jef­frey Smart, at Tar­raWarra, Healesville; Woman in a Tall

Head­dress (3rd cen­tury BC), in the Alexan­der ex­hi­bi­tion; Girl

with a Red Hat (1665-67) by Jo­hannes Vermeer, at the Scud­erie in Rome

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