The World of Lucas Cranach presents more than 50 paintings and some 100 drawings and prints by Lucas Cranach the Elder related to contemporaries' works. It is the first exhibition ever in a Benelux country devoted to this master of Northern Renaissance. Wim Delvoye's exhibition at the Centre for Fine Arts includes drawings, scale models, sculpture, and towers in Corten steel inspired by his distinctive vision of the Gothic style, to be seen at various locations in the building.
The World of Lucas Cranach
An Artist in the Age of Dürer, Titian, and Metsys
curated by Guido Messling
The exhibition presents more than 50 paintings and some 100 drawings and prints by Lucas Cranach the Elder related to contemporaries’ works. It is the first exhibition ever in a Benelux country devoted to this master of Northern Renaissance.
Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 – 1553) was one of the most popular artists of the Renaissance in northern Europe; his portraits of the Reformer Martin Luther and his sensual paintings of nudes have become part of the collective memory. Outside of his own homeland, however, awareness of his exceptionally varied creative output has been somewhat hazy. The Brussels exhibition is in fact the first ever to be devoted to this German painter in one of the Benelux countries. Taking as its starting point Cranach's journey to Flanders in 1508, which brought him into contact with the latest in Low Countries art, it repeatedly explores the influences that Cranach was subject to.
Thanks to his work as court painter to the Saxon Electors in Wittenberg over almost 50 years, moreover, the artist got to know some of the key figures of his eventful times, including Charles V, Margaret of Austria, and Martin Luther. In his portraits of them and in selected contrasts between Cranach's work and that of his Dutch, Low Countries, and Italian colleagues, we can see how extensively the artist was caught up in political and cultural events in Central Europe. A number of exhibits throw light on the operations of Cranach's workshop in Wittenberg, whose extraordinary productivity contributed greatly to his success.
The exhibition is presented on a broadly chronological basis and opens with Cranach's earliest known works, which were created around 1500 in Vienna. In this section of the exhibition his expressive early works are compared with Albrecht Dürer's seminal woodcuts, while works by Albrecht Altdorfer and Jörg Breu make clear the artist's key role in the development of the art of the "Danube school". The next section is devoted to the period following Cranach's appointment as court painter to the Saxon Electors in 1505. Among the most outstanding of his early Wittenberg works are a series of both technically and thematically striking woodcuts that were produced in competition with Hans Burgkmair and Dürer. In addition, Cranach's encounter with the art of Italy and the Low Countries at this time is highlighted by, for example, the presence of works by Quinten Massys, Bernard van Orley, and Francesco Francia. Depictions of the virtuous heroine Lucretia, which make these connections very clear, are followed by a thematic section that looks at Cranach's pictures of nudes, a group of paintings that more than any other has shaped our ideas about his work.
A frame of reference for Cranach's own highly individual approach (both in terms of content and of style) is provided by works by Jacopo de'Barbari, Lucas van Leyden, and Albrecht Dürer, among others. This section both illustrates the thematic breadth of Cranach's nude paintings and focuses on the extraordinary success of these innovative works, which owed much to their mixture of erotic and moral-didactic characteristics. The last section looks at the age of the Reformation, our picture of which has been to a great extent formed by Cranach's works. With his portraits of Luther and of both his followers and opponents, the painter served both religious camps; comparable parallels can be drawn between the new instructive imagery of Protestantism, shaped by Cranach, and thematically conventional commissions from Catholic customers. Works on the theme of "the power of women" (Weibermacht), of which Cranach painted a number of early examples on panel, also became popular at this time.
The exhibition brings together some 50 selected paintings by Cranach, a number of his most important drawings, and some 40 prints, of which in some cases the example on display is the only one in existence today. It includes renowned major works like the Vienna Schottenkreuzigung, a Crucifixion painted around 1500, which is the oldest known panel painting by Cranach, and the Budapest Martyrdom of Saint Catherine. In addition, visitors to the exhibition can see a whole range of paintings that have not been exhibited before or only on rare occasions in special exhibitions, including the 1534 Duke George the Bearded triptych, which has been in the cathedral in Meissen since the 16th century. The Cranach works on display are illuminatingly complemented by some 50 works by other artists.
Some 50 public and private collections were persuaded to lend works for this exhibition, including renowned institutions such as the Royal Museums and the Royal Library in Brussels, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts, the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden, the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the National Gallery in Washington, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Mauritshuis in The Hague, the National Gallery in Prague, the National Museum in Warsaw, and the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen.
In collaboration with: Vlaamse Kunstcollectie, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Museum of Fine Arts Budapest, Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België | Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, het Erasmushuis | La Maison d’Érasme, Goethe-Institut Brüssel
Support: Vlaamse Gemeenschap, Embassy of Germany, Embassy of Belgium Berlin
Sponsor: Leon Eeckman Art Insurance
In the context of the Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union Under the Patronage of Their Majesties the King and the Queen
Location: Centre for Fine Arts, Rue Royale exhibition circuit
Prices: € 10,00
Knockin' on heaven's door
Curated by Claude Lorent
There is a strong emphasis on the Gothic this autumn, with Lucas Cranach and, more unexpectedly, Wim Delvoye. In the wake of Cloaca, his famous faeces-producing machine, and his embellished everyday objects and tattooed pigs, the Belgian artist presents monumental cathedrals in metal, along with crooked Christs, obscene stained-glass windows, and steel towers. The intrusion of the religious into his world comes across as the return of the repressed, metamorphosed by a craftsman’s skill. His audacity disrupts the space-time continuum, questioning genres, cultures, and practices, blending the intellectual and the popular, and confronting the artistic heritage with the latest technology. His laser-outlined Gothic tower on the Centre’s roof will echo its counterpart on the Brussels Town Hall.
Delvoye's exhibition at the Centre for Fine Arts includes drawings, scale models, sculpture, and towers in Corten steel inspired by his distinctive vision of the Gothic style, to be seen at various locations in the building. The most imposing of these works of art is to be found on the roof: a 16-metre-high Gothic steel tower. This is an expanded version of the tower that Delvoye exhibited at the Venice Biennale (2009) and at the Musée Rodin in Paris (2010).
This monumental work enters into a dialogue with the spire of the Brussels town hall, one of the city's Gothic gems. In the antechambers Delvoye presents another aspect of his work, one that connects with the Gothic context by its religious character and its use of arches and spiral motifs. Twisted Christ (images in bronze of the crucified Christ, distorted and twisted around the cross) expresses physical suffering and humanity, without denigrating the sacred. Suspended in the Horta Hall, visitors can see an impressive piece of sculpture that was specially conceived for this space: Suppo, a twisted horizontal tower, hanging in the air.
Delvoye has also created an intervention in the exhibition on The World of Lucas Cranach: a large scale model of a chapel in the last room of the exhibition. Lucas Cranach may have been a painter of the Renaissance, but many art historians see in his paintings a continuation of the Gothic. In this context it is interesting to make a connection between Cranach's paintings and Delvoye's contemporary work.
In the lead-up to the exhibition, the BOZAR SHOP has already set up a special "Wim Shop" with art books and collector's items.
Location: Centre for Fine Arts, several locations in the building
Tickets: Free access
Press contact: Leen Daems
+32 (0)2 507 83 89 firstname.lastname@example.org
Image: Lucas Cranach the Elder, A Female Personification of Justice, 1537, Private collection
Press Conference Tuesday 19 October at 11 a.m.
Opening Wednesday 20 October 2010
Bozar - Centre for Fine Arts
Rue Ravenstein 23, Brussels