THE ART OF SUMMER
Escape the seasonal torpor in a gallery, says Christopher Allen
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
NGA: Toulouse-Lautrec, to April 2
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