Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Around AD 600, sculptors in Cambodia created a magnificent 2m-tall sandstone figure of the young Hindu god Krishna as he lifts Mount Govardhan to protect his people and their livestock from destruction by torrential storms sent by a god. The larger-than-life-size work, which once wore gold earrings in the holes in its earlobes, is one of eight monumental sculptures found at Phnom Da, a twin-peaked mountain next to the ancient city of Angkor Borei in southern Cambodia.
Revealing Krishna, planned in partnership with the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh and the Angkor Borei Museum, presents the Cleveland Museum of Art’s newly restored sculpture Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan, along with other large-scale sculptures from the sacred mountain of Phnom Da that are on loan both from the National Museum (including another Krishna) and from the Musée national des arts asiatiques–Guimet in Paris. With the inclusion of archival imagery, the exhibition looks at the discovery, context, history, and conservation of works from this major Hindu site, and also considers the importance of sharing resources in preserving cultural heritage.
An immersive tour featuring projections and a soundscape has been devised to transport visitors at the exhibition to the southern Cambodian landscape in which the Krishna once stood. Using HoloLens 2 headsets, they will be able to see holographic projections of the Phnom Da cave temple that was probably the home of the Krishna sculpture. Projections of 3D models of all eight of the gods from Phnom Da bring these impressive sculptures together – digitally – in a single space.
Cleveland Museum of Art
Poussin and the Dance
The French artist Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) first travelled to Rome – a destination he had been wanting to reach for some time – in about 1624, staying until he was called back to France as Louis XIII’s First Painter to the King in 1640. During this time, he measured and closely studied antiquities, and produced a number of joyous scenes of dancers drawing from ancient mythology, including the National Gallery’s Triumph of Silenus, which was recently reattributed to Poussin. This is joined in the exhibition Poussin and the Dance by other ‘triumphs’ (like those of Pan and Bacchus), and a number of other scenes of revelry.
One significant loan for the show is A Dance to the Music of Time (about 1634-1636; from the Wallace Collection), which lent its name to the 12-novel series by 20th-century author Anthony Powell. In Poussin’s painting, a group of dancers holding hands in a circle are accompanied on the lyre by Father Time, while Aurora and the sun-god Apollo cross the morning sky, and putti blow bubbles and hold an hourglass, evoking the fleetingness of life.
A selection of influential Roman objects are on view, such as the Borghese Dancers (a marble relief featuring dancers in a line holding hands) and spectacular carved vases that also depict dancers. The Borghese Dancers was a work Poussin considered to be of particular importance, and he recommended that a bronze cast of it be created for the royal collection in France; this is also in the exhibition.
With the ancient sculptures that inspired Poussin, many of his related drawings, and the completed canvases themselves, the exhibition offers a detailed look into the artist’s practice, including his use of wax models (which have been recreated for the show) as a way to play with movement.
The exhibition is organised with the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where it will be on view from 15 February to 8 May 2022.
Until 2 January 2022
Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens
In 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots, was beheaded on the orders of her cousin Elizabeth I, after she had been found guilty of plotting to assassinate this last Tudor monarch of England. Though they never met, the two royal cousins corresponded by letter. This exhibition explores the relationship between the cousins, England and Scotland, and Protestants and Catholics during the late 16th century. The story is told through important documents, including letters written by the queens themselves, speeches, warrants, and state papers. In addition to the letters, highlights of the exhibition include Henry VIII’s Great Bible, which Elizabeth I inherited; Elizabeth’s c.1575 locket ring, containing portraits of her and her mother Anne Boleyn (shown above); and a gold necklace with a gold enamelled locket, containing portraits thought to be of Mary Queen of Scots and her son James VI, that Mary is believed to have owned.
British Library, London
Until 20 February 2022
Agatha Christie: Destination Unknown
The famous crime-writer Agatha Christie headed to Iraq with a last-minute ticket on the Simplon-Orient-Express in 1928, when dealing with the aftermath of the death of her mother and a divorce. She visited the excavations at the Sumerian city-state of Ur, which inspired her 1936 novel Murder in Mesopotamia. It was at Ur that she met archaeologist Max Mallowan, whom she married in 1930 and joined on a number of digs. This exhibition uses photographs, letters, poetry, and Christie’s writings to explore her time in Iraq, her passion for archaeology, and her marriage to Mallowan.
Torre Abbey, TORQUAY, Devon
Until 28 November 2021
Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters
As part of the UK/Australia Season 2021-22, the National Museum of Australia’s Songlines exhibition is travelling out of Australia for the first time. Making its European premiere at The Box in Plymouth, Songlines presents more than 300 works that provide an insight into Australia’s ancient creation myth, the ‘Seven Sisters Dreaming’ stories. As well as paintings, sculptures, and ceramics by Aboriginal artists – including Kungarangkalpa walka board (2016) by Niningka Lewis, Mar-uku Arts (pictured below) – the exhibition features the ‘DomeLab’, a travelling dome that displays animated artworks and shows their relationship to the stars, and recreates important sites relating to the Songlines, like Cave Hill in southern Australia where Seven Sisters rock art is preserved.
The Box, Plymouth
21 October 2021 to 27 February 2022
American Weathervanes: The Art of the Winds
The history and development of weathervanes in the USA between the late 17th and early 20th century, their range, and the techniques used to make them are examined in this exhibition on the decorative instruments that show the direction of the wind. Notable examples of weathervanes, including a Dove of Peace commissioned by George Washington for his Mount Vernon home, are joined by wooden sculptures that were used as patterns for moulds, watercolours for the Index of American Art (a collection of watercolours, produced between 1936 and 1943, of decorative art objects dating from the colonial period to the 19th century), and other archival material.
American Folk Art Museum, New York city
Until 2 January 2022
Aquatint: From Its Origins to Goya
Aquatint replicates the tonal variations of ink, wash, and watercolour drawings in print, allowing evocative images of tombs, scientific phenomena, and distant sites to be distributed widely. The technique became popular in 18th-century Europe, contributing to the development of art publishing, an increasing interest in travel, and the spread of Neoclassicism. This exhibition – featuring many recent acquisitions by the National Gallery of Art – delves into the artform. The roles of amateurs, professional printmakers seeking to reproduce popular drawings, and painters who also used this intaglio print-making technique are explored. As well as Goya, whose prints highlighted the horrors of war, the exhibition features Paul Sandby, who worked in England and coined the term ‘aquatinta’; Maria Catharina Prestel, who ran a studio with her husband Johann Gottlieb Prestel in Germany, together producing reproductions of Old Master drawings in German collections; and Richard Cooper II, who produced a series of large-scale views of attractions in Rome (one of his Roman Ruins, etching and aquatint in brown on laid paper, c.1779, published with John Boydell, is shown below).
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
24 October 2021 to 21 February 2022
Experimental archaeology provides insights into aspects of life in the past and the technical possibilities of the ancient world, including how tools and structures were made and how they were used. This exhibition highlights the skills and knowledge of experimental archaeologists, and their work in understanding the practicalities of a wide range of activities, from crafting ceramics and making glass beads (below left) to bone-working and even preparing roast pork according to evidence from 8,000 years ago.
MAMUZ Schloss Asparn/Zaya
Until 21 November 2021
Traits of Egypt: Marcelle Baud (1890-1987)
The career and accomplishments of Marcelle Baud, who worked in the male-dominated field of early 20th-century Egyptology, are celebrated in this exhibition. She travelled to Egypt and carried out research at a number of sites in the Nile valley, leaving behind an impressive archive of drawings, watercolours, notebooks, and photographs. Her skills as an artist enabled her to create an impressive visual record of the decorations ancient Egyptians left at their temples and tombs, and fuelled her interest in studying their techniques and methods.
Musée Bargoin, Clermont-Ferrand
Until 9 January 2022
Along the Nile: Juliette Agnel follows in the footsteps of Du Camp and Flaubert
As part of the celebrations around the bicentenary of French novelist Gustave Flaubert’s birth in 1821, this exhibition follows the trail of the Madame Bovary author and writer and photographer Maxime Du Camp on their 1849-1851 travels to Egypt, Sudan, Palestine, and Syria. Du Camp’s mission was to photograph monuments in Egypt, which he published in the album Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie in 1852. The work has inspired artist Juliette Agnel and her photographic series Voyage dans le temps and Nocturnes – Soudan, selections of which are presented in the exhibition.
Abbaye de JumiÈges, JumiÈges
Until 30 November 2021
Paris-Athens: The Birth of Modern Greece 1675-1919
Commemorating the bicentenary of the beginning of the Greek War of Independence and the Louvre’s first display of the now famous Hellenistic sculpture the Venus de Milo in 1821 (discovered just the year before), this exhibition explores the relationship between France and Athens between the 17th and 20th centuries. It looks at politics and diplomacy, but also at the work of French archaeologists in Greece and the exhibiting of Greek art – both ancient and modern – in France. Archaeological drawings produced in Greece, archival photographs of both sites and people, ancient pots and sculpture, and paintings by both Greek and French artists (including Dominique Papety’s 1848 work The Duke of Montpensier Visiting the Ruins of the Temple of Jupiter in Athens, below) are on view, shedding light on the cultural links between the two countries.
Until 7 February 2022
The prehistoric: classifying, dating, and exhibiting in the 19th century
Another bicentenary marked this year is that of the birth of archaeologist Gabriel de Mortillet (1821-1898), who worked at what is now the Musée d’Archéologie nationale in France. The museum is now honouring him with an exhibition that focuses on his role in establishing a chronology for prehistory. With prehistoric artefacts (among them some fine examples of Magdalenian carvings of animals like horses and bison) and a selection of 19th-century images and publications on display, the exhibition highlights the role of close observation of objects – including flints, swords, axes, and brooches known as fibulae – in his research.
Musée d’Archéologie nationale et Domaine national de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Until 2 January 2022
Iran: Five Millennia of Art and Culture
Artworks spanning 5,000 years have been brought together for a wide-ranging survey of Iranian culture from the ancient world to the present. Pieces from the Sarikhani Collection and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin showcase the talents of Iranian artists from the early Elamite civilisation and the ancient Achaemenid and Sassanian empires, and explore Iran’s place in cultural and political exchanges between Asia, Africa, and Europe. Among the highlights are ceramics with elegant inscriptions, figurines in chlorite, and a 6th- to 7th-century AD silver- and gold-plated dish (shown above), from Armenia or Iran, depicting a king hunting a lion, bear, and boar.
Complementing this exhibition is The Garden as a Place of Refuge: Persian illuminated manuscripts meet Berlin-style allotment idyll (30 October to 20 February at the Pergamonmuseum), which has a special focus on the exquisite illuminated manuscripts produced in Iran and the importance of Persian gardens.
4 December 2021 to 20 March 2022
Kallos: The Ultimate Beauty
The latest of the Museum of Cycladic Art’s exhibitions exploring universal concepts as they were understood in ancient Greece focuses on the ideal of kallos or beauty. The displays highlight the importance of kallos in everyday life in the Greek world through a wide range of items relating to beautification, such as jewellery, perfume bottles, pigments, and mirrors. Mythological representations of kallos are included among the 300 or so artefacts on display, including depictions of gods and mortals famed for their beauty – like the Hellenistic bronze folding mirror from Makistos, on loan from the Archaeological Museum of Pyrgos, showing Zeus in the guise of an eagle abducting Ganymede (above right). Kallos does not refer only to external beauty, but also to qualities of character. These internal aspects are also reflected in the exhibition, for example with a vase painting of the loyal wife of Odysseus, Penelope, who dutifully labours away at the loom during his many years of absence.
Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens
Until 16 January 2022
Dante: A POP epic
As part of Ravenna’s programme marking the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri (c.1265-1321), this exhibition charts the influence of the medieval poet and his epic the Divine Comedy on popular culture, and the recurrence of themes from his work (including souls, dreams, travel, and the female figure) in contemporary art. Artists featured in the show include Richard Long and Edoardo Tresoldi, who has created a wire-mesh structure evoking the ‘noble castle’ in Dante’s Inferno, where virtuous souls that have not achieved salvation reside in Limbo. Dante’s role as a symbol of Italian identity is also considered, through, for example, marketing materials and branding for typewriters (as seen in Teodoro Wolf Ferrari’s 1912 advertising poster for the Olivetti M1 on the left), olive oil, and vermouth.
Mar, Museo d’Arte della Città di Ravenna
Until 9 January 2022
VENETIA 1600: Births and rebirths
Another important Italian anniversary is of the founding of Venice, which, according to the 11th-century Chronicon Altinate, happened at midday on 25 March, AD 421. On this day, it is said, the first stone of the church of San Giacometo in Rivoalto was also laid. The stories of Venice’s founding that have been passed down by its chroniclers and historiographers position the city as one that was chosen by God. With paintings, artefacts, and documents, this exhibition reflects on 1,600 years of Venetian history and how La Serenissima shaped its identity. Floods, plagues, military might and defeats, the role of merchants, architecture, the city’s place in contemporary art today, and issues facing its future all form part of the narrative. Works by notable Venetian artists including Bellini, Titian, and Canaletto are on view, as well those by international artists. Among the highlights are Vittore Carapaccio’s recently restored, monumental 3m-long painting of the Lion of St Mark (shown below).
Palazzo Ducale, Venice
Until 25 March 2022
Geneva and Greece: A friendship serving independence
Switzerland is another country marking the bicentenary of Greek independence with an exhibition, this one organised by the Musée d’art et d’histoire and the Hardt Foundation for the Study of Classical Antiquity. It examines three figures who were significant in bringing Geneva into the Helvetic confederation and in Greek liberation: Charles Pictet de Rochemont, from Geneva; the Genevan banker Jean-Gabriel Eynard, who co-founded the National Bank of Greece; and Greece’s first president Jean Kapodistrias (declared a citizen of Geneva in 1816). While the political events of the 19th century are an important part of the exhibition, it also looks at Greek–Swiss friendship in general, dating back to the teaching of ancient Greek in Geneva from 1535.
Running alongside the exhibition until 2 January is The Taste of the Antique: Anna and Jean-Gabriel Eynard, which takes a closer look at the Eynards’ passion for ancient Greece, as seen through the buildings they commissioned, their Neoclassical furniture, and their collection of ancient vases, as well as paintings and sculptures that make use of Graeco-Roman mythology.
MusÉe d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva
Until 30 January 2022