Around the Pillars of Hercules: ancient relations between Morocco and Spain
The narrow Strait of Gibraltar, flanked by promontories known since antiquity as the ‘Pillars of Hercules’, separates mainland Europe and Africa, and serves as a gateway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. For many of the ancient societies who lived and sailed around the Mediterranean, these ‘Pillars’ marked the end of the known world and held mythical significance.
With just 13km separating them at the narrowest point of the Strait, Morocco and Spain have a long history of interactions and cultural exchanges, a relationship that is explored by this new exhibition at Madrid’s Museo Arqueológico Nacional organised by Spain’s Ministry of Culture and Sports, the National Museum Foundation of the Kingdom of Morocco, and Acción Cultural Española.
More than 300 artefacts from Spanish and Moroccan museums chart the evolution of the relationship between these two neighbouring countries since antiquity, shedding light, for example, on the role of powerful kingdoms from beyond these territories. Phoenician and Punic settlements in both Morocco and Spain meant that at least some parts of these lands shared some aspects of their cultural and economic identities. With the ascendancy of the Roman Empire, both sides of the Pillars of Hercules were united under one political power, and artefacts from each country attest to life in their Roman cities. Later, parts of Spain were ruled by Islamic dynasties like the Almoravids, who founded Marrakesh in Morocco as their capital.
Objects on view include Roman sculptures from either side of the Strait depicting the same subject (for example, Juba II, King of Mauretania, who married Cleopatra Selene, the daughter of the famous Queen Cleopatra and Mark Antony), and textiles, ornate column capitals, and tilework from the southern Spanish province of Andalucía (al-Andalus) where the influence of Islamic art and culture is particularly apparent.
Museo Arqueológico Nacional Until 16 October 2022 www.man.es
The Worlds of Schliemann: His Life, His Discoveries, His Legacy
In 1870, the self-taught archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann travelled to Turkey to excavate the famous city of Troy that features in Homer’s Iliad. Though he was not the first to link this site with ill-fated Troy, he uncovered remains of the city and around 10,000 objects, including ceramic vessels, metal tools, and small finds like spindle whorls, as well as a glittering cache of jewellery he dubbed ‘Priam’s Treasure’ after the Trojan king.
To carry out this work, the impatient Schliemann, a businessman who turned to archaeology in his early 40s, dug a large area (now known as the ‘Schliemann Trench’) to a depth of 17 metres to reveal more swiftly what he thought would be the important layers of the city’s occupation, and destroyed a significant portion of the archaeological remains in the process. This is one part of the legacy explored in this two-venue exhibition, organised by the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte to mark the bicentenary of Schliemann’s birth in 1822. The James-Simon-Galerie looks at the first half of Schliemann’s life, while the Neues Museum assesses his archaeological work and its legacy.
Homeric heroes captured Schliemann’s imagination, and he also excavated royal tombs at Mycenae, where he believed he found the burial of Agamemnon. As well as rich archival documents, archaeological finds on view include ceramic vessels from Troy, Mycenaean goldwork on loan from the National Archaeological Museum, Athens, and fragments of paintings from the Mycenanean palace at Tiryns, also travelling from Athens. Some of the displays, such as a Bronze Age faience bead from the ‘Treasury of Minyas’ at Orchomenos bearing an object label written by Sophia Schliemann, draw attention to her role in her husband’s work.
James-Simon-Galerie and the Neues Museum
Until 6 November 2022
Henry Moore: Sharing form
Well known for his vast, upright forms, sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986) was drawn to the Neolithic site of Stonehenge from an early age, as this survey of his career shows. He first encountered the stones in 1921, and remained fascinated by the play between stone, land, and sky at the site and by the scale of the stones, ideas that were explored through his own monumental outdoor forms. Moore returned to Stonehenge from 1972 for a series of etchings and lithographs, which reflect his continued interest in the grand scale of the monument and its relationship to the viewer. Its powerful stature is conveyed both in wider views, where the trilithons tower over a barely visible visitor, and in close-ups like Stonehenge I (pictured below), a lithograph in three colours from 1973.
Hauser & Wirth Somerset
Until 4 September 2022
Hadrian’s Wall 1900 Festival
The year AD 122 is traditionally taken as the starting point for the construction of Hadrian’s Wall. To celebrate the 1,900th anniversary of this date, a programme of events has been planned all along the famous Roman monument. Among them is an exhibition at the Roman Army Museum in Greenhead that has been extended until 1 October especially for the festival. This focuses on Roman military artefacts that range from a legionary helmet discovered at a site in Wiesbaden-Erbenheim, Germany, to a military diploma that grants citizenship to a member of a unit of Syrian archers who were stationed at Magna, the fort next to the museum.
At Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort, a small exhibition (until 2 October) offers a look at the evidence for a ‘lost’ Hadrianic frontier fort that pre-dates the Antonine Arbeia, while at Corbridge (until 31 October), the focus is on modern excavators in an exhibition that tells the story of the local labourers who worked to uncover the well-preserved remains of this Roman town between 1906 and 1914.
There are, of course, many other exhibitions and events taking place; visit the website for the full programme.
Until 23 December 2022
Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity
The influence of Islamic art on Louis J Cartier (1875-1942), one of the famous Parisian jewellers, is examined through more than 400 objects in this exhibition. It brings luxurious pieces by Maison Cartier, including shimmering tiaras and vanity cases (such as the one shown below, made by Cartier Paris in 1924 using gold, platinum, mother-of-pearl and turquoise parquetry with emeralds, pearls, diamonds, and enamel), together with stunning examples of Islamic art, like rock crystal ewers and refined carpets. Design drawings and historical photographs shed light on the creative processes of the Cartier designers: from Islamic designs, they borrowed and adapted motifs, including geometric forms, that would become a key part of Cartier’s visual language.
Dallas Museum of Art, Texas
Until 18 September 2022
Lost Murals of Renaissance Rome
Painting was an important part of Renaissance Rome, but while grand altarpieces, portraits of powerful patrons, and interiors for the Vatican all survive, the murals that once adorned the façades of prominent buildings have now largely vanished. However, a number of artists who travelled to Rome recorded the frescoes in sketches, so we can still glean some information about them, as this exhibition shows. Among the works on view are remarkable drawings from the series Early Life of Taddeo Zuccaro, by Taddeo’s younger brother Federico Zuccaro. We see the young artist Taddeo diligently drawing various monuments of Rome, and, in one drawing, can observe him at work as a muralist (Taddeo Decorating the Façade of the Palazzo Mattei, about 1595; below). It is thought that these drawings were designed for frescoes at the Palazzo Zuccari, which Federico intended to open as a hostel for young artists.
Running alongside Lost Murals of Renaissance Rome is an exhibition looking at a more modern mural: Judy Baca’s Hitting the Wall in downtown Los Angeles. It was created for the 1984 Olympics (the first in which women could participate in the marathon). Whitewashed in 2019, it was fully restored in 2021.
Getty Center, Los Angeles, California
Until 4 September 2022
The Portable Universe: Thought and Splendor of Indigenous Colombia
This exhibition showcases the diversity and artistry of cultures of ancient Colombia, with an eye on the concept of humans’ place in the cosmos as caretakers of the world. To explore the life and meaning behind the items on view, the museum worked with contemporary Indigenous collaborators, the Arhuaco community of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. These are works, Diana Magaloni (co-curator with Julia Burtenshaw) says, that are ‘considered to have a spirit, and are subjects more than objects’. As she explains, they are ‘“messengers”, as the Arahuaco have said, and as such, they are also not just from the past, but continue to be relevant in the present.’
Among the most striking objects are the sophisticated examples of goldwork, including two intricate models of houses from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, a co-curating partner along with the Museo del Oro in Bogotá, which has also loaned works for the exhibition.
After its run at LACMA, Portable Universe will travel to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (6 November 2022 to 16 April 2023), and then to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (29 May to 8 October 2023).
LACMA, Los Angeles, California
Until 2 October 2022
OPEN HORIZONS: ANCIENT GREEK JOURNEYS AND CONNECTIONS
A group of 44 objects from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, home to a wonderfully rich collection of finds from ancient Greece, has travelled to Australia for this exhibition. It delves into exchanges of ideas and goods in the Greek world, and the influence of Greece and other ancient civilisations of the Mediterranean on one another. There are fine examples of Greek vase-painting and sculpture on display, among them a large Pentelic marble head of Zeus found in Aigeira, Achaia, in 1916, and an Archaic sphinx, also carved out of Pentelic marble, displayed outside Athens for the first time (shown below). This mythical creature was discovered in Spata in Attica, and still has the remains of its original colourful paint on the wings, hair, and polos (headdress).
Melbourne Museum, Victoria
Until 14 August 2022
TIN GLAZING AND IMAGE CULTURE: THE MAK’S MAJOLICA COLLECTION IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT
‘If one is interested in understanding and enjoying the entire spectrum of art and culture in Renaissance Italy, one must take a look at majolica, the most vibrant, most intimate, and in many ways the most revealing art form of the Renaissance,’ according to Timothy Wilson, guest-curator – together with the MAK’s Rainald Franz – of this exhibition of the vividly coloured ceramics. With a name derived from the Italian for the Spanish island of Mallorca (where Moorish-style pottery that served as an inspiration for the Italian designs probably originated), majolica-ware is easily identified by its eye-catching, colourful painted scenes on white tin glaze. A popular category was istoriato majolica, depicting narrative subjects from antiquity, such as The Judgement of Paris (c.1550-1580; shown below). From the early 16th century, Italian-produced majolica was a coveted luxury item, exported to other European courts. Historic plates, flasks, and jars, made between the 15th and 18th centuries, are joined by contemporary majolica by Marino Moretti.
MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
Until 7 August 2022
Stretching back some 4,000 years, this exhibition (the second in a two-part programme with Toulouse’s natural history museum) examines the long and continuing history of magical beliefs, practices, and objects in cultures around the world. Varying attitudes towards different aspects of magic – for instance, magic as a way to get to grips with invisible forces and natural phenomena, to attempt to see into the future, and to acquire amuletic protection – are presented through some 400 objects, including an ancient Greek red-figure amphora (450-425 BC), illustrating the oracular power of the head of the mythical musician Orpheus, and a piece of ivory engraved with images of gods and spiritual protectors from Middle Kingdom Egypt (2100-1760 BC; shown below).
MusÉe des Confluences, Lyon
Until 5 March 2023
The Theatre of Emotions
How do artists convey emotions? This visual survey charts depictions of sorrow, joy, excitement, fear, pleasure, and pain, and more through around 80 works, dating from the 14th century to the present day. The exhibition considers how such depictions have evolved, as ideas about the psyche developed through philosophy, literature, and scientific research over the centuries. Some paintings, such as Louis-Léopold Boilly’s work from c.1830, L’Effet du mélodrame, show feelings in full force: Boilly depicts a woman fainting, her face conveying anguish, while those around her look on in concern or seemingly scream in alarm. For some earlier artists, however, it is gesture, not facial expression, that more clearly indicates emotion: the grief of Mary Magdalene in an absorbing c.1525 painting by the Master of the Magdalen Legend (shown below) is proclaimed not through her comparatively unperturbed face, but by means of the handkerchief with which she dries her eye.
Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
Until 21 August 2022
Rome on the Rhine
Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, now the German city of Cologne, was a thriving frontier town and the capital of the Roman province of Lower Germania. Using finds from across the city, this exhibition tells the story of Roman Cologne as an important administrative, economic, and religious hub that attracted people from across the Empire. Among the artefacts on view are well-preserved leather shoes (shown below) that provide an intimate connection to one of Cologne’s ancient inhabitants; the remains of potters’ kilns and a flat-bottomed boat that reflect the economic life of the urban centre; and carved reliefs and recently discovered fragments of frescoes (similar to frescoes from Pompeii, but unlike others in the Danube and Rhine regions) that give a sense of the monumentality and refinement of some of the buildings in the city.
Kulturzentrum am Neumarkt, Cologne
Until 9 October 2022
Brice Marden and Greek Antiquity
Contemporary American painter Brice Marden, known for his explorations of colour and line, is the latest modern artist to feature in the Museum of Cycladic Art’s ‘Divine Dialogues’ series, which has previously considered the relationship between Greek antiquity and the likes of Pablo Picasso and Cy Twombly. Marden has a close connection to Greece, having spent time in the summer at his house on the island of Hydra for many years. The landscape and light of the island, and the rest of Greece, has inspired his work, as has his interest in antiquity, which is illustrated in the exhibition through the juxtaposition of Marden’s paintings, drawings, and notebooks with ancient artefacts from the museum’s collections. One ‘dialogue’ – between Marden’s Souvenir de Grèce 8 (graphite, beeswax, collage on paper, 1974/96) and a marble female figurine of the Early Cycladic II period (2700-2400/2300 BC) – is illustrated below.
Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens
Until 29 August 2022
Art and sensuality in the houses of Pompeii
Objects from the storerooms of the archaeological park of Pompeii are going on display to illustrate the place of images of erotic and sensual subjects throughout the Roman city. Such imagery was not just confined to brothels or bawdy taverns, but adorned private homes. A villa in the Carmiano area between Pompeii and Stabiae, for instance, has a cubiculum (bedroom) furnished with a cycle of explicit scenes, while in some houses the more public-facing atrium was the place to show off one’s taste in art, including depictions of the god Priapus or of beautiful figures of myth like Narcissus. Recent discoveries feature in the exhibition, including two bronze medallions decorated with erotic images of satyrs and maenads or nymphs from the elaborate ceremonial chariot found at Civita Giuliana. A special route around Pompeii is available that highlights buildings which bring the subject of the exhibition into the wider archaeological park.
Large Palaestra, Archaeological Park of Pompeii, Pompeii
Until 15 January 2023
Invitation to Pompeii
Houses of Pompeii are also the subject of this exhibition, being held in Turin. Presenting well-preserved finds from houses of the city, the displays offer a tour around some of Pompeii’s most luxurious dwellings, all destroyed by Vesuvius in AD 79. Furniture, bronze and glass objects from around the home, and mosaic, statues, and other items of decoration paint a detailed picture of the surroundings in which wealthy citizens lived, as well as the activities that took place in different parts of the house, such as honouring the household gods in the atrium and banquets in the triclinium. Frescoes from several houses in Pompeii and Stabiae are among the highlights and reflect the variety of designs home-owners could adopt – from immersive garden rooms with walls filled with plants and flittering birds to mythical scenes, such as Bellerophon taming Pegasus with help from Athena (below).
Palazzo Madama, Civic Museum of Ancient Art, Turin
Until 29 August 2022
The papyrus roll of Qenna: magical spells for the afterlife
In 1835, the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden acquired the 17m-long Book of the Dead that had been found placed, folded, over the mummified body of Qenna, an ancient Egyptian merchant who lived around 1300-1275 BC. This rather unwieldy papyrus (the longest in the museum’s collection) was then cut into 38 more manageable sections (Sheet 8 is shown below), some of which went on display. Now, after three years of conservation work that has removed harmful previous repairs, the whole manuscript can be seen for the first time. This exhibition tells the story of the conservation project and research into the papyrus, as well as exploring how the Book of the Dead (and the spells it contained) would aid and protect Qenna on his journey into the afterlife.
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden
22 June to 4 September 2022