Monthly Archives: February, 2018

“Iron Age Temple in Syria Devastated by Turkish Air Raids,” By Claire Voon

“Iron Age Temple in Syria Devastated by Turkish Air Raids”

‘The ancient temple complex of Ain Dara was partially destroyed by the Turkish military as they continue to attack Kurdish forces in the Afrin region of Syria’

By Claire Voon


Air raids by Turkish warplanes on the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin in northern Syria have partially destroyed the ancient temple complex of Ain Dara, renowned for its finely carved reliefs. Built in the iron age by the Arameans, sometime between the 10th and 8th centuries BCE, the site is also notable for its structural similarities to King Solomon’s Temple — the first temple in ancient Jerusalem — as described in the Bible. News of the air strikes, which occurred on Friday, were confirmed by the Britain-based war monitor, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and Syria’s antiquities department.

Lion at Ain Dara, photographed in 2009 (photo by Verity Cridland via Wikipedia)

According to the BBC, the Observatory estimates that about 60% of the temple was destroyed. Photographs of the site taken after the air strikes show its courtyard, originally paved with flagstones, covered with rubble. The temple itself stood on a limestone platform and was lined with basalt blocks sculpted to resemble lions and sphinxes; near its entrance, carved into the stone floor, was also a series of giant footprints, which some scholars believe were intended to represent traces of deities who resided in the sanctuary. The temple complex was first excavated by archaeologists in 1955, after they found a massive basalt lion on the site.

Syria’s Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums condemned the attack in a statement, saying that it “reflects the hatred and barbarism of the Turkish regime against the Syrian identity and against the past, present and future of the Syrian people.

“DGAM appeals to all concerned international organizations and all those interested in world heritage to condemn this aggression and to pressure the Turkish regime to prevent the targeting of archeological and cultural sites in Efrin, one of the richest areas in Syria.”

The air strikes were part of a military offensive the Turkish government launched on January 20 against the People’s Protection Units — or the mainly Kurdish militia known as the YPG — to secure Afrin from what it considers a terrorist organization. Beyond the damage to historical remains, the human cost since the operation began is alarming: the United Nation estimates that 5,000 civilians have been displaced and dozens have been killed, according to Reuters.

Rebuilt sculpted wall of the Ain Dara temple, photographed in 2005 (photo via Wikipedia)

A sphinx at Ain Dara, photographed in 2009 (photo by Verity Cridland via Wikipedia)

Featured image, top: Temple complex of Ain Dara, photographed after being hit by Turkish air strikes (image courtesy the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums)


By Claire Voon, Reprint from Hyperallergic, 30 January 2018, © 2018 Hyperallergic Media Inc.

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“Dalí’s Melting Clock Will Head Down Under as MoMA Sends 200 Masterpieces to Melbourne,” By Julia Halperin

“Dalí’s Melting Clock Will Head Down Under as MoMA Sends 200 Masterpieces to Melbourne”

‘See the lineup of works headed to Australia for a sprawling loan show’

By Julia Halperin


The Museum of Modern Art’s collection is hitting the road—again. In June, around 200 works, including many of the museum’s best-known objects, will travel to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

The show is a wide-ranging display of the museum’s greatest hits, from a 1957 Fender electric guitar to a series of portraits of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol. Works that rarely venture outside MoMA’s galleries will be shown in Australia for the first time, including Paul Cézanne’s Still Life with Apples (1895–98), Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait of Joseph Roulin (1889), Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913), and Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory (1931). (Although the show was announced in 2016, the lineup has not been made public until now.)

“They were interested in the masterworks of the institution,” MoMA’s director Glenn Lowry told the press at an event earlier this month. But curators have also included works by artists who will be less familiar to Australian audiences, such as Wifredo Lam, Lygia Clark, and Theo van Doesburg.

Pablo Picasso’s The Architect’s Table (early 1912). © 2019 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, NY.

MoMA’s masterworks have been racking up frequent flyer miles this year. While the museum is undergoing a major renovation, it has taken the opportunity to partner with institutions abroad to present highlights from its holdings. The entire collection will reconvene at the museum in 2019, when MoMA opens its expansion with a comprehensive reinstallation of the collection.

Last fall, the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris presented a similarly ambitious exhibition drawn from MoMA’s star-studded holdings. The show—which examined what it means to be modern and how MoMA managed to assemble a cutting-edge collection in real time—was considered a coup for the deep-pocketed institution.

Not to be outdone, Melbourne’s NGV has taken a more mass-appeal approach, surveying 130 years of art history through the lens of MoMA’s collection. (The show is the largest installment to date of the museum’s “Winter Masterpieces” series, which brings works from major museums around the world to Melbourne.)

Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl (1963). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, NY.

Though there is some overlap—postcard-worthy works by Duchamp, Picasso, and Kahlo are included in both shows—the many differences between the two point to audiences’ distinct inclinations and the staggering depth of MoMA’s holdings. (Few other museums could do two best-of exhibitions and duplicate fewer than half the works.) The Paris show skewed more heavily toward photography and archival material, while the Australian exhibition has more furniture design and a larger presence by American heavyweights like Robert Rauschenberg.

A number of works in MoMA’s collection are too fragile to travel, but beyond that, nothing was off-limits for the NGV, according to a MoMA representative. The exhibition includes 127 works that have never been shown elsewhere since their acquisition and another 46 that have not been exhibited outside of MoMA in the past decade. The museum declined to comment on whether the Australian institution was funding the show and did not disclose whether MoMA received a loan fee.

While some have criticized museums for loaning out their best works—leaving audiences at home to encounter the most famous images only in the gift shop—Lowry told press that “the fact that we had many great works in Paris doesn’t take away from what we can show.”

Instead, he noted that the process of organizing these shows has helped inspire creative thinking from MoMA’s curatorial team, which hopes to vaporize “the distinction between loan shows and collection shows” when the new building opens. Sending some landmark works out on loan, he said, creates “opportunities to show other great works that might not be seen.”

See more works headed to Melbourne below.

Tomohiro Nishikado’s Space Invaders (1978). © Taito Corporation, all rights reserved. Image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, NY.

 

Gerrit Rietveld’s Red Blue Chair (c. 1918). © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Beeldrecht, Amsterdam. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, NY.

 

Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair (1940). © 2018 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, NY.

 

Kara Walker’s Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred b’tween the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart. (1994). © 2018 Kara Walker, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, NY.

 

Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #131 (1983). © Cindy Sherman, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

“MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art” is on view at the National Gallery Victoria in Melbourne from June 8 to October 7.

Featured image, top: Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory (1931). Photo: courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, New York. © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí / Licensed by Viscopy, 2017. 


By Julia Halperin, Reprint from Artnet, 30 January 2018, © 2018 Artnet News Corporation.

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“The MFA Is Bringing Original M.C. Escher Art to Boston,” By Kalina Newman

M.C. Escher (Dutch, 1898-1972): Relativity, 1953. Lithograph, 10.9 x 11.5 inches (27.7 x 29.2 cm). © Cordon Art B.V. – Baarn – Netherlands.


“The MFA Is Bringing Original M.C. Escher Art to Boston”
‘A new exhibit called “Infinite Dimensions” will display prints never before seen in the city.’

By Kalina Newman


This Saturday—for the first time in Boston’s history—original works by graphic artist M.C. Escher will be on display at the Museum of Fine Arts. Titled “Infinite Dimensions,” the exhibit will showcase more than 50 pieces that range from his famous optical illusions to his earlier woodblock and pencil prints.

Escher’s art is known for inviting the viewer to transform the idea of time and space into something unknown and fluid. One of his most famous mind-bending works, Relativity, is a lithograph that depicts a collection of staircases going in several different directions. And though Escher passed away in 1972, it’s taken until 2018 for his original works to arrive in Boston.

“It struck me that when I looked at museum collections in the area that there are very few Escher prints, but yet there were so many people who are interested in the artist,” says Ronnie Baer, curator of the exhibit. “In Boston, his stuff was only known in reproduction—it had not been exhibited in original form.”

In addition to the art collection, Baer solicited feedback on Escher’s work from dozens of notable creative professionals such as musician Yo-Yo Ma and chef Barbara Lynch.

“[It’s] not so much an authoritative point of view, but a showcase of many different reasons to appreciate his prints,” says Baer of the feedback.

Statements from locals will be placed next to each work so that museum visitors may enjoy the art and consider other points of view at the same time. For example, astronaut Nicole Stott was asked to comment on the piece Three Worlds Illustrated, a print that depicts a koi fish swimming in a lily pond.

“Escher’s ‘Three Worlds’ is like seeing the Earth from space, encouraging us to understand the harmony and complexity of our home from a completely new vantage point,” said Stott in her statement.

M.C. Escher. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Another highlight of the exhibit is the display of Escher’s gigantic piece Metamorphosis II, a black, green and brown woodcut print that spans 13 feet across twenty blocks of wood. The print transforms from a chessboard, to a village, to a tessellation of cubes, among other shapes. The piece is set to take up an entire room, making it ideal for art-loving Instagrammers to photograph.

However, the exhibit goes beyond Escher’s gigantic and sometimes mind-boggling prints. Baer worked to gather dozens of Escher’s lesser-known works in order to represent the artist’s technical side. All of Escher’s printmaking skills are honored, from lithographs, to wood engravings, to linocuts of art.

“There’s a lot to see and explore,” explains Baer.

One showcase of Escher’s skill is the display of his close-up print, Eye. A series of six proofs, or rough drafts, will be displayed next to the piece to show the artist’s process in crafting the print.

“He’s really an underestimated artist,” says Baer. “This will give the public a chance to assess his artistry from his own images.”

“Infinite Dimensions” will be on view February 3 through May 28, 2018 at the Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, mfa.org.

Image courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston


By Kalina Newman, Reprint from Boston Magazine, 31 January 2018, 2018, © Metro Corp.


 

M.C. Escher (Dutch, 1898-1972): Rippled Surface, March 1950. Linocut in black and grey-brown on japan paper, 33.6 x 40.1 cm; image: 26 x 32 cm. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. © Cordon Art B.V. – Baarn – Netherlands. Image: The National Gallery of Canada.

 

M.C. Escher (Dutch, 1898-1972): Hand with Reflecting Sphere, 1935. Lithograph, 31.8 x 21.3 cm. © Cordon Art B.V. – Baarn – Netherlands.

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