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On Show – Exhibitions from around the world

Some museums and galleries have temporarily closed, while others are reopening with safety measures in place, including compulsory booking and limits on visitor numbers. New closures and cancellations are still a possibility, and the dates listed below may have changed since we went to print. Check the websites and social-media accounts of the institutions for the most up-to-date information, bookings, and, in many cases, a chance to explore their collections online.


UNITED KINGDOM

Hebrew Manuscripts: Journeys of the Written Word

A series of calendrical and astronomical tables, 15th century. Image: British Library Board
A series of calendrical and astronomical tables, 15th century. Image: British Library Board

A selection of significant manuscripts from across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and China are on display in this exhibition at the British Library. It explores the history and traditions of Jewish people around the world, their interactions, influences, and exchanges of knowledge with their neighbours, and how the written word can bring people together over considerable distances. The earliest manuscript on show is the First Gaster Bible, dating from the 10th century, but it is not only important religious texts that are on display: there are works on science and astronomy (a page from a 15th-century series of calendrical and astronomical tables is shown above), philosophy, magic and alchemy, and more, containing beautiful illuminations and scientific diagrams, and frequently revealing personal stories. All the manuscripts in this exhibition have been digitised, so they can also be seen online at www.bl.uk/manuscripts/.

British Library, London
Until 11 April 2021
www.bl.uk/events/hebrew-manuscripts

Arctic: Culture and Climate

Ivory model sled with dogs, northeast Siberia, 19th century. Image: © The Trustees of the British Museum

With the largest and most diverse display of artefacts from the Arctic yet shown in the UK, this major exhibition (featured previously in Minerva) shines a light on the people who have inhabited this challenging and changing environment for nearly 30,000 years, and their culture. Drawn from across the circumpolar north, tools and clothing, artwork, and contemporary photography illustrate the relationship between people and the natural world – from hunting to herding. Highlights include an winter costume from Igloolik made of caribou fur, and an ivory model sled with dogs from north-east Siberia (pictured above).

British Museum, London
Until 21 February 2021
www.britishmuseum.org

Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace

One highlight of the summer opening of the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace is the Picture Gallery, where spectacular works from the Royal Collection, amassed by monarchs over the centuries, are hung. This year, the Picture Gallery has been emptied for the first time since it was redecorated in 1976, in preparation for a major programme of works. The removal of these masterpieces, including Old Master paintings that have been displayed in the room since it was created for George IV by architect John Nash in the 1820s, is an opportunity to see them up close in a gallery setting.

The 65 paintings that make up this exhibition (34 of which were acquired by George IV) are considered highlights of the Royal Collection, and include work by Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Rubens, Van Dyck, and Canaletto. It is the first time these works have been brought together for a gallery exhibition, and their new presentation invites consideration of topics such as why the works were so highly prized. Other themes include the artists’ technical mastery of paint – in, for example, the thin applications of pigment that conjure the translucence of skin in Rubens’ Self-Portrait (1623).

Parmigianino, Pallas Athene. Oil on canvas, c.1531-1538. Image: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020
Parmigianino, Pallas Athene. Oil on canvas, c.1531-1538. Image: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020

Some of the paintings make use of illusionistic design – for instance, adding false windows – to create an effective sense of realism. In Lorenzo Lotto’s portrait of Andrea Odoni (1527), he positions the sitter so that he appears to offer a statue of the Greek goddess Artemis to the viewer. Others instead opt for an idealism indebted to classical art, as exemplified by Parmigianino’s Pallas Athene (c.1531-1538) and Guido Reni’s Cleopatra with the Asp (c.1628).

The exhibition also explores the history of Picture Gallery from the 1762 acquisition of Buckingham House by George III and Queen Charlotte, whose arrangements of a mix of Dutch, Flemish, and Italian paintings still influence the displays in the room.

The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London
Until January 2022
www.rct.uk

Turner’s Modern World

J M W Turner, The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons. Oil on canvas, 1835. Image: Tate - accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
J M W Turner, The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons. Oil on canvas, 1835. Image: Tate – accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

One of Britain’s greatest landscape painters, J M W Turner (1775-1851) recorded the changing modern world around him and the pivotal events of his day. With an interest in industrial advances, he put steam boats and railways at the heart of major works – a pioneering aesthetic approach to steam technology that was not widely shared by his fellow artists. This exhibition, organised in collaboration with Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, also considers Turner’s responses to decades of conflict and revolutions, his attitudes towards social reform, and his engagement with political events, seen, for example, in The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons (1835; pictured above).

Tate Britain, London
Until 7 March 2021
www.tate.org.uk

Bill Brandt | Henry Moore

Bill Brandt, Stonehenge. Gelatin silver print, 1947. Image: Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York © Bill Brandt / Bill Brandt Archive Ltd
Bill Brandt, Stonehenge. Gelatin silver print, 1947. Image: Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York © Bill Brandt / Bill Brandt Archive Ltd

Exploring the careers of, and many connections between, the photographer Bill Brandt (1904-1983) and sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986) this show brings together a range of works by both artists that reflect their interests in similar subjects, among them rock formations and geology, and megalithic sites such as Stonehenge, which is featured both in Brandt’s photographs (for example, the 1947 gelatin silver print Stonehenge, pictured right) and Moore’s lithographs. The artworks reveal how Brandt and Moore both focused on ordinary people, labour, and the home, up to and during the Second World War, but then later turned to the open landscape and nature. The exhibition is organised by the Yale Center for British Art, USA, where it is due to run from 15 April to 18 July 2021, and in partnership with the Hepworth Wakefield (where it was on view earlier this year).

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, Norwich
Until 7 March 2021https://sainsburycentre.ac.uk


UNITED STATES

Queen Nefertari’s Egypt

Djed-pillar amulet, reign of Ramesses II (c.1279-1213 BC). Image: Museo Egizio, Turin, Italy

The lives of royal women – the wives, sisters, daughters, and mothers of pharaohs, and even sometimes pharaohs themselves – in New Kingdom Egypt (1550-1070 BC), their status and their legacy, are investigated in this exhibition through a wide selection of artefacts from the Museo Egizio in Turin, including statues, stelae, papyri, amulets, and tools from the artisan village of Deir el-Medina. Among these women is Queen Nefertari, wife of Ramesses II, who appears in statues and inscriptions on the buildings of the pharaoh. She was honoured with a temple next to her husband’s in Abu Simbel, and the largest and most richly decorated tomb in the Valley of the Queens, which was discovered in the early 20th century by a team led by the director of the Museo Egizio, Ernesto Schiaparelli. Finds from her tomb (QV66) are on view, among them the gilt wood and vitreous paste djed-pillar amulet (pictured right) dating from the reign of Ramesses II (c.1279-1213 BC).

Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
Until 14 March 2021
www.kimbellart.org

Love, Life, Death, and Desire: An Installation of the Center’s Collections

Henry Fuseli, Dido. Oil on canvas, 1781. Image: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Henry Fuseli, Dido. Oil on canvas, 1781. Image: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Damien Hirst first exhibited his installation In and Out of Love (Butterfly Paintings and Ashtrays) 30 years ago, a time when London was on the rise as a centre for contemporary art. The installation helped Hirst gain prominence as a Young British Artist. For an exhibition marking this milestone, Hirst’s installation is shown in its entirety, along with other historic and contemporary works from the Yale Center for British Art’s collection that address themes seen in Hirst’s art, like love and death, beauty and suffering, permanence and fragility. The selection of works on view includes pieces that draw from ancient tales of love and death, such as the tragic heroine of Virgil’s Aeneid, Dido, Queen of Carthage, as figured in Henry Fuseli’s 1781 painting (left).

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut
Until 28 February 2021
https://britishart.yale.edu/

We Do Not Dream Alone

The inaugural Asia Society Triennial, the first festival in the United States wholly devoted to Asian contemporary art, brings together the works of more than 40 artists from 21 countries, with nearly half presenting new commissions. The second part of the festival, entitled We Do Not Dream Alone, will include Iranian-born, London-based artist Reza Aramesh’s new work Study of the vase as fragmented bodies – a group of hand-thrown vessels that adopt the shapes of ancient Greek vases and bear images of violence drawn from contemporary news reports. Battle scenes appeared in ancient vase-paintings, so with the updated contemporary imagery, the works draw attention to topics such as the continuation of conflict and the glorification of violence through history.

Asia Society Museum, New York
26 March to 27 June 2021
https://asiasociety.org/triennial

Arte del Mar: Artistic Exchange in the Caribbean

Gold Tairona figure pendant, 10th–16th century. Image: courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Indigenous communities both in the Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea and, across the waters, in the mainland countries of Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras, participated in a rich artistic exchange with one another. Drawing on recent research into ritual knowledge, ceremony, and political power, this exhibition showcases the stunning works of the Taíno civilisations, who endeavoured to express the power of their deities and ancestors through their creations. Highlights include wooden sculptures from ancient Puerto Rico, and pendants and other objects, crafted from luxury imported materials, that would be used by leaders in ceremonies; one spectacular example, an elaborate gold pendant made by the Tairona civilisation of Colombia, is shown above. Such materials, including greenstone, shell, gold, and marble, illustrate the trade connections that linked Caribbean peoples before the 16th century.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Until 27 June 2021
www.metmuseum.org

Invisible Beauty: The Art of Archaeological Science

As seen under a microscope, a basalt inclusion in a ceramic tile from the first half of 6th century BC, from Gordion, in present-day Turkey. Photo: Janelle Sadarananda and Brigitte Keslinke. SAM 1954-1-128.
As seen under a microscope, a basalt inclusion in a ceramic tile from the first half of 6th century BC, from Gordion, in present-day Turkey. Image: Janelle Sadarananda and Brigitte Keslinke. SAM 1954-1-128.

A great range of archaeological finds – be they shaped hand-axes, beads, or textiles – can be considered beautiful, but, as this exhibition shows, their beauty may also be appreciated on a hidden level, invisible to the naked eye. Close study of artefacts, using microscopes and X-rays, can reveal exquisite details, such as unseen decorations on sculptures, textures of metal objects, and colourful crystals. These details can tell us more about how they were made and used, as well as subjects like trade, diet, health, and the environment. Invisible Beauty presents different types of archaeological imagery (one example is the basalt inclusion in a 6th-century BC ceramic tile from Gordion, seen under a microscope, above) and highlights the work of archaeologists beyond excavation.

Penn Museum, Philadelphia
Until 6 June 2021
www.penn.musum

Seeking Immortality: Ancient Artefacts

Pair of Painted Equestrian Funerary Figure. Painted clay, Han dynasty, 206 BC-220 AD. Image: Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Drs Thomas and Martha Carter
Pair of Painted Equestrian Funerary Figure. Painted clay, Han dynasty, 206 BC-220 AD. Image: Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Drs Thomas and Martha Carter

Ceramic figures and other objects from China, Japan, and Korea, buried with the dead to accompany them into the afterlife, are on show in this display that looks at the insights material culture can offer into life and technologies in the past. Artefacts on view include models of servants and animals – such as the pair of painted-clay equestrian funerary figures from the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) pictured right – that were intended to attend to the needs of the deceased and keep them fed, as well as objects to protect against malevolent spirits.

Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona
Until 4 April 2021
https://phxart.org

Golden Mummies of Egypt

Terracotta figurine of Bes in Macedonian-style armour, 100 BC. Image: © 2020 Manchester Museum, University of Manchester / Julia Thorne, Tetisheri
Terracotta figurine of Bes in Macedonian-style armour, 100 BC. Image: © 2020 Manchester Museum, University of Manchester / Julia Thorne, Tetisheri

A touring exhibition of eight gilded mummies and other finds from the Egyptian collections of the Manchester Museum in the UK is now on view at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Excavated from Hawara, the mummies shed light on life in a multicultural society at the site, at a time when it was part of the Greek and Roman worlds (c.300 BC to AD 200). The art of identity is one of the key themes in the exhibition, and this is explored through intimate mummy portraits, which show images of the deceased, and other artefacts. The figurine of Bes (c.100 BC) on the left is an eloquent example of the mingling of different cultural traditions: this Egyptian god appears in the guise of a soldier, equipped with Macedonian-style armour.

North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, North Carolina
Until 11 July 2021
https://ncartmuseum.org

The Salem Witch Trials, 1692

Tompkins Harrison Matteson, Trial of George Jacobs, Sr. for Witchcraft. 1855. Image: courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA/photography by Mark Sexton and Jeffrey R Dykes
Tompkins Harrison Matteson, Trial of George Jacobs, Sr. for Witchcraft. Oil on canvas, 1855. Image: courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA/photography by Mark Sexton and Jeffrey R Dykes

Of all the witch trials that took place in the early modern period, those in Salem, Massachusetts, are perhaps the most notorious. Between June 1692 and March 1693, 25 innocent men, women, and children were killed by a society that was in crisis, with a war nearby, a flawed judicial system, and intolerance at large. Dramatic scenes appear in artworks, such as the courtroom in uproar as a granddaughter points the finger at her own grandfather in Tompkins Harrison Matteson’s 1855 painting Trial of George Jacobs, Sr. for Witchcraft (pictured above), but what do we know about the reality of these events? This exhibition uses rarely displayed documents – including death warrants and petitions – and personal possessions to paint a poignant picture of the events at Salem, from the perspectives of both the accused and the accusers.

Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
Until 4 April 2021
www.pem.org


ESTONIA & FINLAND

Egypt of Glory

A two-part exhibition, drawing on the collections of Turin’s Museo Egizio, is taking place in two European capitals: Tallinn in Estonia and Helsinki in Finland. Billed as Estonia’s first major exhibition of ancient Egyptian art, the Kumu show will display artefacts including sculptures, mummies, coffins, amulets, and other items from burials (for example, a shabti of Hunero). They tell stories about pharaohs, life in ancient Egypt, beliefs in the afterlife, and more, but, as the exhibition sets out to show, should be considered as works of art in their own right. Visitors will learn about how Egyptians pictured their surroundings; the magical purpose served by art, able to bring a depicted subject to life; the rules and conventions that governed the creation of images; and the significance of certain colours, like blue.

Shabti of Hunero, New Kingdom, 1539-1076 BC. Image: © Museo Egizio
Shabti of Hunero, New Kingdom, 1539-1076 BC. Image: © Museo Egizio

In Helsinki’s Amos Rex, objects ranging from pieces for the board game senet to substantial sculptures build a picture of ancient Egyptian life and death under pharaohs like Amenhotep II, Amenhotep III, and Akhenaten, drawing attention to some of the ways its culture has had lasting influence. Among the highlights are a talatat (limestone block), thought to be carved with the image of Nefertiti and one of her daughters, that speaks of the artistic changes brought about by Akhenaten, when he built a new capital at Amarna. After the Amarna Period, use of these blocks in construction was discontinued. Figures of gods are on display, introducing visitors to Egyptian religion, a subject that is further explored through, for example, a fine greywacke sarcophagus lid that depicts a high-ranking religious official named Ibi. This dates to the reign of the pharaoh Psamtik I, the first ruler of the 26th Dynasty (also called the Saite Period, after its capital at Sais).

Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn & Amos Rex, Helsinki
Until 21 March 2021
https://kumu.ekm.eehttps://amosrex.fi


FRANCE

Pharaoh, Osiris and the mummy

Head of a pharaoh, attributed to Apries. Diorite, probably 589-570 BC. © 2019 Musée Granet / Hervé Lewandowski
Head of a pharaoh, attributed to Apries. Diorite, probably 589-570 BC. © 2019 Musée Granet / Hervé Lewandowski

Organised in partnership with theMusée du Louvre and several other European museums, this exhibition puts the ancient Egyptian art of the Musée Granet’s collection in the spotlight. Highlights from the museum include reliefs created at the same time as the Great Pyramid of Cheops, sculpture (like the 26th Dynasty diorite head of a pharaoh, attributed to Apries, pictured right), a sarcophagus and its mummy, and a rare mummified Nile monitor lizard. Joining these artefacts is a colossal 2m-high statue of a member of the royal Ramesside line (1292-1070 BC), on loan from the Louvre.

Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence
Until 14 February 2021
www.museegranet-aixenprovence.fr

Tables of Power: A History of Prestigious Meals

For many of us, dinner parties and dining out at restaurants are off the menu. While such convivial consumption is normally a chance to sample fine cooking and socialise, formal occasions – such as state banquets – can also have a political or religious function. This exhibition looks at the long history of meals and the art of protocol, and their role in displaying power. Stretching back 5,000 years, fine objects made for the table trace the culinary traditions of various cultures from ancient Mesopotamia to the present day. Nearly 400 works – archaeological finds, paintings, sculpture, objets d’art, and more – richly illustrate the subject. Visitors can encounter religious Sumerian banquets of the 3rd millennium BC, honouring the gods at the founding of temples or after military victories. Such scenes are depicted in reliefs, but there are also exquisite silverware and luxurious vessels, for example an Egyptian faience rhyton shaped like a lion, that give a glimpse of what wealthy people used to eat and drink in antiquity.

A glass goblet decorated with coloured spots, c.AD 300-500. Image: © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d’Archéologie nationale)/Franck Raux
A glass goblet decorated with coloured spots, c.AD 300-500. Image: © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d’Archéologie nationale) / Franck Raux

The symposium of ancient Greece and its influence on Roman dining culture (following the example of the Greeks, Romans dined at their banquets in a reclining position) are explored too, through vase-paintings showing symposium scenes and delicate glasses used to sup wine. More modern material sheds light on the tables of medieval kings and the prominence of seating plans with a lord as head of the table, on the evolution of centrepieces from the late 17th century, and on the formalising of service à la française (‘French-style service’), where multiple dishes of a meal are laid out on the table at the same time. Large sets of tableware (and dressers to hold them) were required for lavish meals with many dishes, and the exhibition showcases examples of refined 18th-century porcelain from the Sèvres manufactory, owned by the French Crown.

Louvre-Lens
31 March to 26 July 2021
www.louvrelens.fr


GERMANY

The Germanic Tribes: Archaeological Perspectives

‘Germani’ was the Roman name for various communities who lived in the lands east of the river Rhine and north of the Danube between the 1st and 4th centuries AD. It is from Roman accounts that we know about the conflicts between these Germanic tribes and the Romans, but what does archaeology reveal about them?

A pressed sheet-metal panel with a central animal frieze, possibly used as the rim of a bucket or vessel, from Thorsberger Bog, 3rd century AD. © Museum für Archäologie Schloss Gottorf, Landesmuseen Schleswig-Holstein
A pressed sheet-metal panel with a central animal frieze, possibly used as the rim of a bucket or vessel, from Thorsberger Bog, 3rd century AD. © Museum für Archäologie Schloss Gottorf, Landesmuseen Schleswig-Holstein

A new exhibition taking place at two locations on Berlin’s Museum Island offers ‘archaeological perspectives’ on this ancient subject. At the James-Simon-Galerie, artefacts from across Germany, Denmark, Poland, and Romania open a window on to communities that had an agrarian society with an upper class, and that were connected across regions and sometimes in conflict with each other. Some of the finds come from their graves, which, for the elite, were richly furnished with Roman imports and locally produced, finely worked metal objects, such as an intricate shield boss from a princely burial in Gommern, Germany. This shield boss was adapted from a solid-silver Roman vessel, with gilding and glass inlays added locally. Other skilfully crafted Germanic metalwork has been found in bogs in northern Germany and Scandinavia, where, having been looted on the battlefield, they were seemingly offered to the gods in gratitude for a victory. One spectacular example comes from the Thorsberger Bog near Schleswig: an ornamental panel of gilded silver and bronze, with a stunning frieze of animals bordered by a row of human heads.

At the Neues Museum, the focus is on how these Germanic tribes have been received over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. As well as scholarly research, which had changed by the end of the 19th century as archaeological finds were made, this section explores myth and ideology.  

James-Simon-Galerie & Neues Museum, Berlin
Until 21 March 2021www.smb.museum

Gladiators – Heroes of the Colosseum

Roman figurine of a murmillo, 1st century AD. Image: Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Roman figurine of a murmillo, 1st century AD. Image: Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

Gladiatorial combat was a popular spectator sport in ancient Rome, and the vast amphitheatres scattered across the empire stand as testament to the large crowds who once watched the bloody fights. Different types of fighter specialised in using different weapons and armour, some of which have survived in the archaeological record, along with objects like oil lamps and figurines (for example, the 1st-century AD clay murmillo, shown right) that depict gladiators. Such artefacts are on show, along with various reconstructions, in this exhibition that investigates the people who were gladiators, what went on behind the scenes, and the place of women in the games.

Archaeological Museum Hamburg
Until 28 February 2021https://amh.de

Made In China! Porcelain

Plate with cobalt blue floral scroll decoration, Yongle era (1403-1424). Image: © MK&G, donated by Harold and Ingeborg Hartog, photograph: Jörg Arend
Plate with cobalt blue floral scroll decoration, Yongle era (1403-1424). Image: © MK&G, donated by Harold and Ingeborg Hartog, photograph: Jörg Arend

One of China’s most admired exports is porcelain, which has a long history stretching back more than 3,000 years. Fine pieces of porcelain were produced for the imperial court and the domestic market, but porcelain objects were also made for export, particularly to the Courts of Europe, where a method for making porcelain was only developed in the early 18th century. Ming dynasty (1368-1644) blue-and-white porcelain, and 17th-century Qing dynasty famille rose and famille verte pieces, with their pink and green palettes, were popular. With exquisite examples of Chinese porcelain on view – the Yongle era (1403-1424) plate with floral scroll decoration painted in cobalt blue under the glaze (pictured left) is one highlight – this exhibition explores the technical and artistic developments of porcelain production.

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Until 20 March 2022
www.mkg-hamburg.de


GREECE

Antiquarianism and Philhellenism: The Thanassis and Marina Martinos Collection

Peter von Hess, Greeks Fighting Among Ancient Ruins. Oil on canvas, 1829. Image: Thanassis and Marina Martinos Collection
Peter von Hess, Greeks Fighting Among Ancient Ruins. Oil on canvas, 1829. Image: Thanassis and Marina Martinos Collection

The year 2021 marks the bicentenary of the start of the Greek Revolution in 1821. This period also saw the rise of the Philhellenic movement in art, which drew from ancient Greek heritage. As this exhibition explores, after the founding of the independent Greek state, Greek Neoclassical artists were keen to highlight their unbroken link to the arts of ancient Greece. Ancient works are paired with related Neoclassical oil paintings and sculptures by 19th-century artists from Greece and elsewhere in Europe. Highlights include Peter von Hess’s 1829 painting Greeks Fighting among Ancient Ruins (shown left).

Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens
Until 5 April 2021
www.cycladic.gr


ITALY

Empresses, Matrons, Freedwomen

Roman women of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD are the subject of this exhibition that brings together statues of empresses such as Agrippina the Younger, mother of Nero; coins that shed light on how women were used in imperial propaganda; and Renaissance drawings that show how these female figures were viewed later. The imperial women are prominent in the exhibition, which highlights their high social status, involvement in politics, and their sometimes negative reputations, but it also looks at the daily life of matrons and freedwomen, with an eye on the topics of civil, political, and economic emancipation.

Uffizi Galleries, Florence
Until 9 May 2021
www.uffizi.it


MEXICO

Passersby 04: Anni Albers

For the fourth instalment in their series devoted to ‘Passersby’ (artists from different disciplines who have stayed in and been influenced by Mexico), the Museo Jumex presents an exhibition focused on the great textile artist Anni Albers (1899-1994). In the 1930s, Anni Albers left Germany with her husband Josef and moved to the USA. While living there, both artists travelled often to Mexico. Anni carefully studied the textile traditions of many different cultures and purchased work in Mexico for the collection of the Black Mountain College, where she taught. But it was more than just different textiles that inspired her, as this exhibition shows. Together, Anni and Josef explored archaeological sites like Monte Albán and these spectacular ancient ruins influenced her designs. The connections between ancient and contemporary Mexico and Anni Albers’ work are highlighted through documents, objects, photography, and works by the artist.

Museo Jumex, Mexico City
Until 28 February 2021
www.fundacionjumex.org


NETHERLANDS

Slavery

Anonymous, Enslaved Men Digging Trenches, c. 1850. Image: Rijksmuseum, purchased with the support of the Johan Huizinga Fonds/Rijksmuseum Fonds
Anonymous, Enslaved Men Digging Trenches, c.1850. Image: Rijksmuseum, purchased with the support of the Johan Huizinga Fonds/Rijksmuseum Fonds

This landmark exhibition at the Rijksmuseum confronts slavery and Dutch involvement in the slave trade across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans between the 17th and the 19th century, when the Dutch West India Company and the Dutch East India Company operated. Objects, paintings (including Enslaved Men Digging Trenches by an anonymous artist, c.1850, shown right), and archival documents delve into the history of slavery and help explore ten stories about people who were enslaved and brought to the Netherlands, people who took advantage of slavery, and about resistance and freedom. Beyond the exhibition, the Rijksmuseum is adding labels (that will be in place for about a year) to around 70 objects to explain their relationship with slavery.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
12 February to 30 May 2021
www.rijskmuseum.nl

Return trip to the past: ProRail and Archaeology

Knight's glove, 14th century, probably lost during the siege of Delf. Image: © Municipality of Delft
Knight’s glove, 14th century, probably lost during the siege of Delft. Image: © Municipality of Delft

Large-scale infrastructure projects often go hand-in-hand with archaeological discoveries, and the construction of the Netherlands’ first railway in the second half of the 19th century was no exception. At first, finds were unearthed during the construction of the railways, but the Valletta Treaty in 1992 introduced a legal requirement for archaeological study of a site before construction. This small exhibition investigates the relationship between archaeology and railway works – particularly the work of ProRail, which manages the railways and was one of the first large organisations in the Netherlands to set up an archaeology department some 25 years ago – and presents some archaeological highlights found along the tracks over the last 180 years. These include a Carolingian sword dredged from the moat of Bastion Deuteren in 1896, a 17th-century telescope (the oldest in the Netherlands) excavated in Delft in 2014, and a 14th-century knight’s glove also found in Delft (shown above), which was probably lost during the siege of the city.

Rijksmuseum Van Oudheden, Leiden
Until 22 August 2021
www.rmo.nl

POLAND

The Treasures of the Archaeological Collection

Bone panpipe found in a grave at Przeczyce, Late Bronze Age (c.800-550 BC). Image: courtesy of the Upper Silesian Museum
Bone panpipe found in a grave at Przeczyce, Late Bronze Age (c.800-550 BC). Image: courtesy of the Upper Silesian Museum

To mark the 110th anniversary of the founding of the Upper Silesian Museum, this exhibition is presenting highlights from their archaeological collections, spanning from prehistory to the modern day. Finds from excavations in the Upper Silesia region including weapons and jewellery are on view, as well as objects that have been donated by collectors and institutions, such as stone blades and arrowheads from North America. Among the artefacts exhibited is the oldest wind instrument discovered in Poland, a panpipe consisting of nine bone tubes, found in a grave at Przeczyce and dating back to the Hallstatt period at the end of the Bronze Age (c.800-550 BC).

Upper Silesian Museum, Bytom
Until 30 July 2021
https://muzeum.bytom.pl


SPAIN

Art and Myth: The Gods of the Prado

Roman marble sarcophagus fragment showing Prometheus and Athena creating the first man, c.180 AD. Image: © Museo Nacional del Prado
Roman marble sarcophagus fragment showing Prometheus and Athena creating the first man, c.180 AD. Image: © Museo Nacional del Prado

The rich array of stories from Greco-Roman mythology have been used as a sourcebook for many artists in classical antiquity and beyond. Gods, heroes, nymphs, satyrs, and maenads fill tales which delve into human vices and virtues. Works ranging from the 1st century BC to the 19th century give an overview of these myths across art history, as represented in the collections of Madrid’s Prado Museum, with examples included that use myth to explore ideas about love, beauty, fate, and masculinity and femininity. Paintings by Rubens, Zurbarán, and Ribera are presented alongside ancient masterpieces, such as a Roman marble carving (shown above) of Prometheus and Athena creating the first man.

Caixaforum Barcelona
Until 14 March 2021
https://caixaforum.es/es/barcelona

Mythological Passions: Titian, Veronese, Allori, Rubens, Ribera, Poussin, Van Dyck, Velázquez

The six paintings on mythological subjects Titian produced for King Philip II of Spain, known as the ‘poesie’, went on display in London’s National Gallery just days before the UK’s first lockdown shut the gallery’s doors. The exhibition did reopen, and although the group unfortunately had to skip their planned showing in Edinburgh, they are now heading to Madrid: the first time all six paintings commissioned by the Spanish king can be seen together in Spain since the 16th century. The Prado’s exhibition is not just showcasing the poesie, but other works that depict scenes of desire, love, and beauty from Greek and Roman mythology, as related by ancient writers such as Homer, Euripides, Plato, and Ovid.

Museo del Prado, Madrid
2 March to 4 July 2021
www.museodelprado.es/en

Pharaoh: King of Egypt

The pharaohs of ancient Egypt had many roles to fill, among them strategic military commanders, fearless fighters, divine representatives of the many gods in the Egyptian pantheon, dutiful high priests, and protectors of the maat, the divine order of the world. They carefully constructed their identities to reflect these roles and projected their power through statues and monuments, which make use of a set of royal symbols and certain poses.

Head of the pharaoh Thutmose III, from Karnak, Thebes. Green siltstone, c. 1479-1457 BC. Image: © The Trustees of the British Museum
Head of the pharaoh Thutmose III, from Karnak, Thebes. Green siltstone, c. 1479-1457 BC. Image: © The Trustees of the British Museum

This exhibition of more than 100 ancient Egyptian artefacts from the collections of the British Museum explores the images of the all-powerful pharaoh. One important signifier of royal status was the uraeus, an upright cobra figure worn as part of the pharaoh’s crown. In coronation scenes, pharaohs appear surrounded by gods, highlighting the divine nature of their role, and in some stelae they are depicted with their arms folded, a pose that imitates the god Osiris. Of course, the reality was not always as neat as the statues and other works try to suggest. There were internal tensions between Upper and Lower Egypt, as well as civil wars, and Egypt suffered defeats by both the Roman and the Nubian armies.

A variety of figures ruled Egypt, too, and over a huge expanse of time from approximately 3000 BC to 30 BC and the Roman conquest. Some were women, and some – like the Macedonian king Alexander the Great – were not Egyptian. Yet the royal symbols used were the same, continuing a powerful and ancient visual lineage.

Among the works are exceptional examples of Egyptian statuary – such as a green siltstone head of Thutmose III, a venerated pharaoh who expanded the empire – as well as reliefs from temples, tiles from palaces, jewellery, and ritual objects.

Caixaforum Tarragona
Until 14 March 2021
https://caixaforum.es/es/tarragona/exposiciones


SWITZERLAND

Artemis Amarysia: In Search of the Lost Temple

Figurine of Artemis sitting on a rock, 3rd-1st century BC. Image: © MCAH, photo N Jacquet

The Greek island of Euboea has seen ten years of archaeological research by a Greek-Swiss team searching for the great sanctuary of Artemis at Amarynthos, in use from the Bronze Age to the Roman imperial period. In 2017, archaeologists found a roof tile with the name Artemis on it, confirming that the site they had been investigating was the location of the lost temple. Although finds from the site are unable to travel to Switzerland, this exhibition presents the work of the archaeological team and uses some rarely seen artefacts from the Musée cantonal d’archéologie et d’histoire’s collections to explore the cult of Artemis, and rituals and festivals in her honour. Vases, jewellery, figurines, and coins comparable to the Euboean finds are on view, among them this 3rd-1st century BC seated figurine of the goddess (right).

Musée cantonal d’archéologie et d’histoire, Lausanne
Until 4 April 2021
www.mcah.ch