Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bouguereau for VFMA

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts board of trustees has approved the acquisition of "The Battle between the Centaurs and Lapiths," a heroic Academic painting by French artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau, a beaded buffalo mask from the Bamum kingdom of Cameroon, three versions of French artist Antoine-Louis Barye’s “Pheasant” sculpture, and 29 fine, decorative and ceremonial objects given in memory of the museum’s late curator of 20th-century art.

Also added to the VMFA collection were two works by Virginia sculptor Leslie Garland Bolling, a collection of 21 gold and semi-precious-stone earrings from ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures and a trade-bead necklace collected in Ghana.

Battle of Lapiths and CentaursThe Bouguereau painting, “The Battle between the Centaurs and Lapiths,” is an 1852 oil on canvas measuring 49 by 68-5/8 inches. The large-scale work depicts a central element of the story of a mythological battle as recounted by the Greek poet Homer in the Iliad. The Lapiths and the Centaurs were longstanding pre-Hellenic enemies. In a peacemaking effort, the Lapiths invited the Centaurs to a wedding feast at which the Centaurs got drunk and attempted to abduct the bride.

In antiquity, the tale was seen as an example of the conflict between civilization and barbarism.

“Academic art dominated French painting of the period and is the school of art most often contrasted with Impressionism. Impressionist painting, known for having been painted from life and for its spontaneous brushwork, modern subjects and intense color, was a rebellion against Academic painting and the Salons, with its controlled brushwork, references to ancient sculpture and subjects from the distant past,” said VMFA Director Alex Nyerges.

Book on deaccessioning controversies at U.S. museums

When done well, she said, “pruning a museum collection so that the collection as a whole can become better and stronger” can be a good thing. When done inappropriately or for the wrong reasons, she added, the results can be “tragic.”
Read about here.

Dumas at MoMA

Since I got this really cool catalog sent to me in the mail, I figured that I better plug this show: