171114 : Kunsthistorisches Museum - Velázquez

Kunsthistorisches Museum Velázquez 28.10.2014 – 15.02.2014 On the far side of time / Beyond time By Matthias Kampmann There are moments in which time does not seem to move forward. A suffused present that engulfs all sounds, allows no distractions. Moments in which one self disappears because the counterpart is so strongly present. Juan de Calabazas was one of the court jesters in Baroque, absolutist Madrid. His likeness generated exactly this feeling. Diego Velázquez perpetuated it in magnificent uniqueness. It's a central painting in this exceptional exhibition in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, whose combinatorics will provide a clever example of what curators can achieve for a long time to come. In addition, besides the Madrid Prado, there's hardly a house worldwide in a position to lay this on with such a magnificent stock of this kind. In all, King Philipp IV had sent 14 works of this master to Vienna. Twelve of these are still there today. There had already in advance been a discussion of an exhibition of the century. Even if the Prado had not sent the main work, «Las Meninas», of Philipp IV's court painter (born 1599) to Vienna, works such as the Court Jester from 1638, but also early paintings such as the «Adoration of the Kings» (1619), the greatest work of the then 20-year-old, mirror the inordinate quality of the show. And also, naturally, «Prince Balthasar Carlos on Horseback» (1635), to plant a milestone in the reception of the Spanish painter. The Prado sent seven works quasi in return for the Viennese loan to the Madrid exhibition about the painter and Philipp IV's family last year. Above and beyond this, the Florence Uffizi as well as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the State Art Collection Dresden, the Berlin Art Gallery or Apsley House London, which sent, amongst others, the «Waterseller of Seville» (1622), have all enriched the display of works with a total of 46 paintings. Sabine Haag, General Director of the house, spoke of a high point in the exhibition history of the museum. Diego Velázquez was born into an intellectual family in Spain's (then) richest and most important commercial city, Seville. That he was able to become a pupil of the rather conservative painter, Francisco Pacheco (1564-1644) is therefore not a matter of course, as painting in Spain at that time was still counted amongst the handicraft occupations, as opposed to the rest of Europe where artists had been on a par with poets for quite some time. But his master was well connected and must have recognized who he had in front of him as a pupil. In 1618, he even entrusted his daughter as a wife to Velazquez. The show describes the range of Caravaggio's first influence to the fascination of Titian's late works and the absolutely unique incorporation and processing of these influences by Velázquez. Masterpieces without end. For example, the «Rokeby Venus» from London, the only known female nude portrait by Velázquez. No wonder, because due to the Inquisition, nakedness only took place behind closed curtains. Here, the play between visibility and painting itself is manifested. The mirror shows the face of an unusually slim Venus who has her back to us rather indistinctly, but somehow seemingly happy. And she looks at us quite unusually whilst we try to recognize her, but her visage is too indistinct. And is it even a Venus? Typical, this ambiguity. By mostly keeping his themes in abeyance, the painter towers above all those who went before him and many who came after him. Some interpretations talk about the anticipation of impressionism. That may be so, but above all, it's the indeterminacy which makes the viewer speechless and makes these paintings of the artist, who died 1660, seem just so impalpable and innovative. And if there's something about the many assertions and results of the art historians that we will never conclude our interpretations as the hermeneuticists said, then Velázquez is their figurehead. But now we have uttered enough praise. It's up to the individual to go to Vienna – those who undertake the journey will certainly not regret it. Kunsthistorisches Museum 1010 Vienna, Burgring 5 Tel: +43 1 525 24 0 http://www.khm.at Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9.00-18.00

Kunsthistorisches Museum
1010 Wien, Burgring 5
Tel: +43 1 525 24 0
Email: info@khm.at
Öffnungszeiten: Di-So 9.00-18.00

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