Alexa

Louvre masterpieces open at High Museum in new partnership

Louvre masterpieces open at High Museum in new partnership

As they toured the opening "Louvre Atlanta" exhibits, going from a severe Roman bust to an unforgettable Raphael portrait, the directors of the Musee du Louvre and the High Museum had different reasons to be thrilled by the unprecedented collaboration that these masterpieces herald.
For an emerging museum like Atlanta's, the three-year partnership with one of the world's finest art museums represents the chance to host masterpieces of the caliber rarely seen outside the major institutions, including some works that had never left Paris.
And for the Louvre, a giant that is trying to break its too-intellectual-to-be-fun spell, it is a chance to study how Americans do it _ how to engage new publics and find new sponsors beside the state.
"This time we don't only send art, but work together on a scientific project," said Louvre director Henri Loyrette as he saw the exhibit Thursday. "What can these works of art say to the young people of today? How can they enter into works that are erudite? How can we reach a public that doesn't know history, mythology, and yet give them this emotion?"
That should not be too difficult for the first two exhibits in the project, "Kings as Collectors" and "The King's Drawings," both opening Oct. 14. In addition to dozens of rare drawings, sculptures spanning about 20 centuries and a 10-foot, 6-inch (3.2-meter) lead statue of Napoleon, the Louvre has sent some show stoppers _ especially the Raphael painting known as "the male Mona Lisa."
In that 1515 portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, who is best known as the author of the manners manual in the Italian Renaissance, the man fixes upon the viewer his brilliant blue eyes and a melancholy smile strongly reminiscent of Leonardo's lady.
Around the painting, in elaborate frames on walls of rich red, hang a brooding St. Matthew by Rembrandt and two portraits of Baroque-era children who were as far apart in their own time as they are close in the richness of the brushstroke and the softness of the light that plays on their feathery hair.
Velazquez' 1654 "The Infanta Margarita" depicts the same subject as the pensive, sumptuously dressed, cherubic blond princess whom he would portray again two years later at the center of his most famous work, "Las Meninas."
Impressionist masters Degas and Manet met as both were copying this girl, who recurs in their work as well as Renoir's.
But while this 3-year-old has no qualms about staring the viewer in the eye, Murillo's 1650 "Young Beggar" next to her glances down at his torn garments and the crusts of shrimp at his feet. He's not sitting for a royal portrait _ he's dejectedly cleaning himself of lice.
That both portraits should have been cherished parts of French royal collections is perhaps symbolic of the inclusiveness and diversity that "Louvre Atlanta" organizers seek. They seem to prove that all can come together in the museum _ princes and paupers, complex mythological scenes and everyday activities, and especially intellectuals on the banks of the Seine and young, diverse audiences.
"The dialogue of civilization _ the only place to really show it is in a museum," Loyrette said.
The partnership also scores political points, as France's Ambassador to the U.S., Jean-David Levitte, pointed out as he also toured the exhibits.
"We need to develop all the threads of dialogue so that the fabric of our old friendship does not unravel now," Levitte said of Franco-American relations.
Loyrette and High director Michael Shapiro started working on the "Louvre Atlanta" partnership after collaborating on organizing two impressionism exhibits in 1999 and 2002.
The project began in January with an exchange of high school students between Atlanta and Paris and will continue with yearly exhibits at the High Museum through September 2009.
The drawing exhibit will be on view through Jan. 21, 2007. The paintings and sculptures exhibits will remain until Sept. 2, 2007, though some works, like Raphael's portrait, will return to Paris early and be substituted with others.
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On the Net:
http://www.louvreatlanta.org/en/home
http://www.louvre.fr
http://www.high.org


Updated : 2021-04-17 06:40 GMT+08:00