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The subject of unfinished works of art and why they are interesting enough to be displayed in a public gallery is the topic of a newly curated exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery. 'Unfinished' takes center stage at the annual Summer Showcase which highlights some of the Courtauld’s outstanding permanent collection This special display focuses on the theme of the ‘unfinished’ artwork, bringing together unfinished paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century.

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All known drawings from Francisco Goya’s private “Witches and Old Women” album are being presented in their original sequence, thanks to extensive technical research undertaken by conservators, curators and art historians. An exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery in London (until May 25) marks the first time that all 22 ink drawings, which include depictions of elderly women fighting, witches carrying babies on their backs and pensioners dancing, have been shown together since their sale and dispersal in Paris in 1877.  

In what the noted Goya scholar Juliet Wilson-Bareau calls a “feat in forensics”, conservators and curators spent months examining the sheets to determine the pictures’ correct order. Although Goya (1746-1828) meticulously numbered each sketch, eight lost their numbers over the years.

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An old woman, back bent and teeth buckled, kneels on the floor; beside her lie two vessels and a shallow bowl and spoon. Her gaze is misted and sad, but her eyes meet the viewer’s; in her arms, about to be devoured, is a newborn baby. In a picture nearby an elderly couple fly up into the air together, her arms clutch his legs, his outstretched hands clack castanets, associated with music, sensuality and sex. Their faces are angled towards each other, crimped with glee. The walls of the Courtauld Gallery in London are currently crowded with similar images: unsettling and superstitious, erotic and grotesque.

“Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album”, an ambitious new exhibition, opened this week. It marks the first time an institution or individual has tried to reconstitute one of Francisco Goya’s sketchbooks, which were broken up in 1826 after his death.

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The Courtauld Gallery in London is due to open its first space dedicated to drawings on 15 January. The gallery, named after Gilbert and Ildiko Butler, the American philanthropists who donated $750,000 towards its creation, will launch with an selection of drawings that have not been shown at the Courtauld for 20 years. “Unseen” (until March 29) includes a range of examples from the institution’s 7,000-strong collection of works on paper, from 15th-century Renaissance sketches to a 1962 piece by the Pop artist Larry Rivers.

“Unseen” is the first of around four exhibitions to be held at the gallery every year.

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The Courtauld Gallery is presenting the first major museum exhibition in over 20 years of one of the 20th Century’s most exceptional artists, Egon Schiele (18901918). A central figure of Viennese art in the turbulent years around the First World War, Schiele rose to prominence alongside his avant-garde contemporaries, such as Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka. He produced some of the most radical depictions of the human figure created in modern times, reinventing the subject for the 20th Century. The exhibition charts Schiele’s short but transformative career through one of his most important subjects – his extraordinary drawings and watercolors of male and female nudes.

"Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude" concentrates on the artist’s drawings and watercolors. It brings together an outstanding selection of works that highlight Schiele’s technical virtuosity, highly original vision and uncompromising depiction of the naked figure.

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Thursday, 26 December 2013 18:14

Courtauld Gallery to Put Paintings Online

London’s Courtauld Gallery will put its entire collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings online as part of the Your Paintings project. The goal of the ten-year endeavor is to put the UK’s public collection of oil, acrylic and tempera paintings online. The UK is the first country in the world to give such access to its national collection of paintings. So far, 3,217 venues in the UK including the Tate and the National Gallery have participated in the project and 212,000 paintings can be accessed through the Your Paintings website.

The Your Paintings project is the result of a collaboration between the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) and the BBC. The PCF started making a photographic record of the nation’s oil paintings in 2003 while the Your Paintings website, built by the BBC, was launched with 63,000 paintings in June 2011. Typically, 80% of these paintings are not on view and a vast majority has never been photographed before.

The images and accompanying information about the works may be reproduced for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.

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Tuesday, 22 October 2013 18:30

Albrecht Dürer Exhibition Opens in London

The Courtauld Gallery in London presents the exhibition The Young Dürer: Drawing the Figure, which highlights the early figure drawings of the German Renaissance master, Albrecht Dürer. The show specifically focuses on the artist’s “journeyman” years from 1490-1496, when he traveled widely and was exposed to a plethora of new influences. The exhibition also explores how Dürer created a new artistic approach to the figure, rooted in the study of his own body.

Widely considered the greatest German artist ever to live, Dürer was not only a master draftsman but also a skilled watercolorist and engraver. The craftsmanship of Dürer’s woodcuts was so exceptional that he singlehandedly changed the public’s perception of the medium from commonplace to fine art.

The Young Dürer: Drawing the Figure will be on view at the Courtauld Gallery through January 12, 2014.

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London’s Courtauld Gallery, which was founded by the English industrialist and renowned art collector, Samuel Courtauld, in 1931, boasts the most comprehensive collection of Paul Gauguin’s (1848-1903) works in the UK. The Courtauld’s Gauguin holdings include five major paintings, ten prints and one of only two marble sculptures ever created by the Post-Impressionist master.

Collecting Gaugin: Samuel Courtauld in the ‘20s presents the museum’s complete collection complemented by two works that were once in Courtauld’s private collection. Martinique Landscape and Bathers at Tahiti are on loan from the Scottish National Gallery and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts respectively.

Courtauld began collecting works by Gauguin in 1923 when he purchased Bathers at Tahiti, which he later sold, and The Haystacks, which the artist painted in France. Courtauld continued to collect Gauguin’s works until 1929 when he acquired Te Rerioa (The Dream), which resided in his London home for three years before being presented, along with most of his other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, as a portion of his founding gift to the Courtauld Institute.

Collecting Gaugin: Samuel Courtauld in the ‘20s will be on view at the Courtauld Gallery through September 8, 2013.

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Friday, 12 April 2013 11:24

UK Lets Go of Important Picasso Painting

After 89 years in British collections, Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) Child with a Dove will leave the UK. The painting, which marks Picasso’s transition from a predominantly Impressionist style to his somber blue period, was sold last year to a collector in Qatar for nearly $77 million. The UK’s government quickly placed an export ban on the work in hopes that a British buyer would step up and claim the painting. The ban expired in December and no British collector or institution was able to raise the funds necessary to keep Child with a Dove in the country.

Qatar has emerged as a major force in the modern and contemporary art markets in recent years. In 2011, the emirate purchased one of Paul Cézanne’s (1839-1906) versions of The Card Players for $250 million. Other major acquisitions by the country include Mark Rothko’s (1903-1970) White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) for $72 million as well as works by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) and Richard Serra (b. 1939).  

Child with a Dove first came to the UK in 1924 after being purchased by a British collector, Mrs. R.A. Workman. The painting eventually made its way to the art collector Samuel Courtauld and following his death in 1947 was bequeathed to the Welsh Aberconway family. Christie’s sold the painting in 1947 on behalf of the Aberconways. Just last year the painting went on display at the Courtauld Gallery, which Samuel Courtauld founded, as part of the exhibition Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901. The exhibition ends on May 27, 2013 at which point the painting will be returned to Christie’s and then shipped out of the UK.  

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Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity, which will open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on February 26, 2013, will present Impressionist masterpieces alongside garments and accessories from the time. The innovative survey will explore how artists responded to and interpreted fashion from the 1860s through the mid-1880s.

The exhibition, which features 79 paintings and 14 dresses, draws stylistic connections between the canvases and the garments. Highlights include Claude Monet’s (1840-1926) Luncheon on the Grass (1865-66), Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s (1941-1919) Lise-The Woman with the Umbrella (1867), Édouard Manet’s (1832-1883) La Parisienne (circa 1875), Edgar Degas’ (1834-1917) The Millinery Shop (circa 1882-86), and Mary Cassatt’s (1844-1926) In the Loge (1878). Many of the works are on loan from museums such as the Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, the Art Institute of Chicago, London’s Courtauld Gallery, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The exhibition also includes period photographs and illustrations to reinforce the connection between fashion and art.

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity will be on view at the Met through May 27, 2013. The exhibition will travel to the Art Institute of Chicago in June 2013.

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