The Yomiuri ShimbunEvery year, The Yomiuri Shimbun organizes art exhibitions featuring extensive collections from Japan and abroad. Among them in 2018 will be three shows featuring masterpieces all the way from Europe.
Velazquez and the Celebration of Painting: The Golden Age in the Museo del Prado
Opened in 1819 in Madrid, the Prado Museum is the home of art centering on the collections built by Spanish kings. Diego Velazquez is one of its signature artists — visitors are greeted by a statue of him with a brush in front of the museum.
Prado owns more than 7,000 paintings, including nearly half of Velazquez’s about 120 surviving works and masterpieces by Francisco de Goya, El Greco, Raffaello Sanzio, Hieronymus Bosch and other masters as well.
The exhibition will be held to mark the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Spain. It will feature seven of Velazquez’s greatest works, the most ever for a show in this country. About 70 items will be on display overall — including paintings by Tiziano Vecellio, Peter Paul Rubens and Bartolome Murillo — to highlight the international art scene that existed around the time of Spain’s Golden Age in the 17th century.
Velazquez was a court painter who presented an unbiased look at people, regardless of their social status. His works can surprise us: When observed up close, the color combinations in his paintings appear to have been created by just letting brushes run across the surface randomly, but from a distance they make up a vibrant, realistic image.
The highlight of the exhibition is Velazquez’s “Prince Baltasar Carlos on Horseback,” a portrait of the then 5- or 6-year-old Spanish prince who ultimately died at 16. The more than 2-meter-tall work of the prince is a masterpiece of portraiture, as is the artist’s “Philip IV in Hunting Dress,” with both conveying even the temperament of their subjects.
“Velazquez and the Celebration of Painting: The Golden Age in the Museo del Prado” will be held from Feb. 24 to May 27 at The National Museum of Western Art in Ueno Park, Tokyo, and from June 13 to Oct. 14 at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in Kobe. Visit prado2018.yomiuri.co.jp for details.
The Art of Portraiture in the Louvre Collections
Paris’ Louvre Museum, a symbol of the city of art, has numerous masterpieces in its collection, from the ancient Greek statue “Venus de Milo” to 19th-century paintings such as Eugene Delacroix’s “July 28: Liberty Leading the People.”
The exhibition will present about 110 masterworks from the museum’s vast collection, selected under the theme of portraits. Among them will be “Portrait of a Woman,” known as “La Bella Nani,” by Veronese (Paolo Caliari), which is usually displayed in the same room as Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” at the Paris museum.
In the West, portraiture is considered a genre as important as historical paintings. Portraits have been created for various purposes, such as displaying power and commemorating the dead.
The exhibition will cast a spotlight on the social role played by portrait art, through such works as an Egyptian mask used for burial more than 3,000 years ago and Baron Antoine-Jean Gros’ “Bonaparte on the Bridge at Arcole, 17 November 1796.”
“The Art of Portraiture in the Louvre Collections” will be held from May 30 to Sept. 3 at The National Art Center, Tokyo, in Roppongi, Tokyo, and from Sept. 22 to Jan. 14, 2019, at the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts in Tennoji Ward, Osaka. Visit ntv.co.jp/louvre2018 for details.
Nude: Art from the Tate Collection
Britain’s Tate holds one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary Western masterpieces in the world. The upcoming exhibition will focus on the history of nude pieces over the course of about 200 years, covering mythical and historical paintings from the Victorian age in the latter part of the 19th century to contemporary works. It will come to Japan after visiting Australia and two other countries, doubtless attracting many visitors because of the rarity of such a large show on this theme.
Even though nudes have been one of the major themes in the history of Western art, their bold depictions have sometimes caused controversy because they broke taboos in their day.
“The Kiss” by Auguste Rodin will be displayed to the public in Japan for the first time. Based on a forbidden love described in Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy,” the erotic nature of the marble sculpture caused a sensation when it was first shown in the early 20th century.
Other highlights include a drawing of a girl and her companion by Joseph Mallord William Turner, an artist known for his landscape paintings. A work by Lord Frederic Leighton depicts an ideal beauty in Greek mythology, while a nude by Sir John Everett Millais looks natural and sultry at the same time.
The show will also present various approaches toward the theme by featuring works that address racial and same-sex issues.