Sunday, April 25, 1999

Renowned exhibits debut


Tristate museums are filled with famous art this summer

BY OWEN FINDSEN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        What's the best art show to see this spring? What's your passion? Early Modern? Post-Impressionist? Baroque?

        To go for Baroque, head for Columbus and Dayton. Enjoy Post-Impressionism in Indianapolis, the artists of Paris in Louisville and a modern Mexican master in Cleveland. All interstates lead to great art exhibitions this spring.

        It starts this weekend at the Columbus Museum of Art with Dresden in the Ages of Splendor and Enlightenment: 18th Century Paintings from the Old Masters Picture Gallery. This is the only American showing of this exhibition, which includes 76 artworks collected in the 18th century by the Electors of Saxony and Kings of Poland. It was Dresden's grandest age, when painters, sculptors and architects flocked to the city.

        Dresden's Old Masters Pictures Gallery, where the art is from, “was one of the earliest, if not the earliest example of a public museum,” said Columbus Museum of Art curator Annegreth Nill.

        The selection of paintings reflects that idea. “The quality of the pictures is very high and it is a nice mix of artists who are well known and some who will be new to most people,” she says.

        The art is a cross section of 18th-century European painting by French, German and Italian artists, highlighted by the glowing city scapes of Canaletto. None of these works had been seen in the West for decades until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and none in the United States until now.

        Visitors to the Columbus Museum can also enjoy the grandiose glass sculpture of Dale Chihuly in Chihuly in Venice, through Sept. 26 and an exhibition of the one color paintings of former Cincinnati artist Joseph Marioni through July 18.

Caravaggio in Dayton
        Starting May 8, step back to the 17th century to meet the famous bad boy of art history, Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio. The Dayton Art Institute's Sinners and Saints, Darkness and Light, shows one painting by Caravaggio and 37 by artists who worked with him or were inspired by his work.

        Caravaggio was a brawler, a killer, and an outcast, but he started a revolution in painting, breaking away from the sweet, slick paintings of the Mannerists to a new, theatrical, dramatically lit, gritty realism that shocked his age and inspired a centu ry of followers, whose works are equally dramatic.

        The Speed Art Museum in Louisville is showing off six new major acquisitions, all paintings by major 20th-century artists: Marc Chagall, Jean Dubuffet, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Maurice Utrillo. They are a bequest from longtime museum board member Gen. Dillman A. Rash, who died in September.

        Chagall was the leading member of the Paris School of the 1920s who created a colorful fantasy world of art built around his memories of his childhood in a Russian Jewish village. The 1967 painting “Waiting” that shows a woman with flowers floating over the village, is a prime example of the artist's style.

        The Picasso is a portrait of one of the women in his life, Jacqueline Roque, posing with a still life painting on an easel, painted in 1956.

Gaugin in Indianapolis
        The biggest coup for a Midwest museum this year was the acquisition by the Indianapolis Museum of Art of 17 paintings and 81 prints by Paul Gauguin and friends, exhibited in Paul Gauguin and the School of Pont-Aven.

        No, it's not filled with paintings of South Pacific beauties, but the paintings are beauties, from the summers in the early 1890s that Gauguin and a group of artists spent in Pont-Aven in Brittany, painting the landscape and the people and developing the principles of painting that his later Tahitian paintings are built upon. There are paintings by Gauguin, Emile Bernard and Maurice Denis, among others.

        The Indianapolis Museum purchased the 17 paintings for $30 million from Samuel Josefowitz, a Swiss collector who is a member of the museum board of trustees. The Lilly Endowment provided a $20 million challenge grant, and the museum is raising the other $10 million from various sources, including Mr. Josefowitz. He donated the prints, valued at over $1 million, to the museum. Mr. Josefowitz, 77, still owns a major collection of Post-Impressionist art which is likely to go to Indy as well.

Rivera in Cleveland
        The Cleveland Museum of Art's major retrospective of the art of Mexico's greatest painter is nearing its end. You'll have to get to Cleveland before May 2 to see Diego Rivera: Art and Revolution, the largest of all the Spring exhibitions with 120 paintings and drawings, many never before seen in the United States.

       



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