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On February 22, “Delacroix and the Matter of Finish,” the first exhibition in the U.S. to focus on the French Romantic artist in over a decade, opened at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama. The exhibition, which features works from 27 international institutions including the Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland, the Musée national Eugène Delacroix in Paris and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, was previously on view at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in California and was organized by the institution’s assistant director and chief curator, Eik Kahng.

The show presents 25 paintings and 20 works on paper, including a previously unpublished version of Delacroix’s “The Last Words of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius,” which Kahng authenticated after several years of scholarly and technical study. Jeannine O’Grody, Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Birmingham Museum of Art, said, “We are thrilled to be one of only two venues for this show, which represents works of collections from around the world including Paris, Zurich, Madrid, and Toronto.”

Delacroix is often referred to as the father of French Romanticism, the movement that dominated French painting in the first half of the 19th century. However, the exhibition explores the artist’s relationship to Neoclassicism, Romanticism’s alleged antithesis, due to the artist’s allegiance to classical subjects and his admiration for the art of the past. The exhibition also suggests that Delacroix, with his fiery palette and loose brushwork, was something of a forefather to Impressionism.

“Delacroix and the Matter of Finish” will remain on view at the Birmingham Museum of Art through May 18, 2014.

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The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. announced that they have acquired 100 photographs from The Irving Penn Foundation. Irving Penn, one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century, revolutionized fashion photography and was also well known for his still lifes and portraits that frequently appeared in Vogue.

The recently acquired photographs include rare, mostly unpublished works from the late 1930s and 1940s, images of post-war Europe and iconic portraits of celebrated figures such as Agnes de Mille, Langston Hughes and Truman Capote. The collection also includes commercial photography, self-portraits and some of Penn’s most recognizable fashion images. Penn had donated 61 photographs, spanning from 1944 to 1986, to the Smithsonian during his lifetime. He also gifted 60 works to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in 1990.

To celebrate the acquisition and the expansion of the Smithsonian’s Penn holdings, the museum will organize a touring exhibition of approximately 160 works that will open at the Smithsonian in the fall of 2015.

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Tuesday, 16 April 2013 20:38

Egon Schiele’s Lost Sketchbook Recovered

An unpublished sketchbook belonging to the Austrian painter Egon Schiele (1890-1918) has surfaced from a private collection. Dating back to 1906 when Schiele enrolled at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts where he was to meet his future mentor, Gustave Klimt (1862-1918), the sketchbook contains over 40 never-before-seen works by the artist. The images will be reproduced later this month in Egon Schiele: The Beginning, the first book to explore the expressionist’s early works.

Schiele was an important figurative painter of the 20th century and many of his works are erotically charged and noted for their raw emotional intensity. Schiele’s early sketchbook includes a self-portrait and various landscapes that illustrate his early predilection for the expressive brush strokes and dramatic lines that are now readily associated with his work.

Egon Schiele: The Beginning will also include sketches Schiele completed in 1905 on an old English dictionary. Only one of the dictionary sketches has been exhibited before.

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