It’s time to abandon the moldy, two-century-old French rallying cry “art for art. “Painting and sculpture must do more than bask in the rarefied air of museums. They must relate to the pressing problems of the day.
That’s what Offices museum director Eike Schmidt told the press. “It is absolutely our mission to tackle social issues where we can, otherwise what is our meaning? “
Picasso had an answer to by Schmidt question in a 1945 interview: “Painting is not made to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war for attack and defense against the enemy. What enemy?
For Picasso, it was Germany during the the spanish civil war. AT Schmidt, right now, it’s violence against women. The exhibits should challenge the lingering “toxic social structures” of the past, he said.
Schmidt shows the 17th century Uffizi sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a bust of Costanza bonarelli, who was her lover. When she left him for another, his face was lacerated, leaving his left cheek deeply scarred. He did the bust while they were still together.
“It’s a world famous bust”, Schmidt says, “but hardly anyone beyond the specialist world knows his story.” An exhibition of this sculpture should mention that of Bernini attack, he said, because the artist has not suffered any consequences.
Unless you count the consequence that Pope Urban VIII inflicted. He told Bernini to get married. End of story but not for Constancy, who was labeled a prostitute and sent to a convent for four months.
A similar lack of responsibility for an act of violence against a woman occurred when the painter Agostino Tassi raped his student, Artemesia Gentileschi.
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Despite a four-month trial that found him guilty, the sentence – banishment from Rome – was never carried out.
Schmidt, anxious to enlighten museum visitors on by Constance history, showed the bust of Bernini next to images by a contemporary photographer Ilaria Sagaria women disfigured by acid attacks.
“I really wanted to make this link”, Schmidt says, “between a work of art which is truly naively admired and which contributes to the fame of Bernini [and] the very problematic side of Bernini which was socially accepted at the time. “
While this museum director associates a social issue with work in Offices A collection of old masters, political activists also see the power of museum art.
I think of the “die-in” staged at Louver in 2019, when climate change activists protested the museum’s acceptance of fuel company Support.
To protest, they put under Gericault’s painting The Raft of the Medusa. The grim sight of the dead and dying sailors became their unspoken warning of death from floods, fires and drought due to climate change.
When it comes to global warming, there are a plethora of paintings activists might want to consider. that of Franz Marc The fate of animals to Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland, comes to mind. Its intersecting jagged fragments suggest the destruction of nature, if not the world.
Maybe the collections of art museums can even stir anti-vaccine to take their pictures.
I think about at Max Beckmann painting at the Kunstsammlung in Düsseldorf crammed with distorted and angular figures pushing into each other.
Campaigners might link Beckmann’s painting to the appearance of ICU if they continue to overflow Covid patients. The harsh lines and coarse texture intensify the ugliness of the scene.
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