I’M chuffed how, in its recent exhibits, the Hermitage Foundation has managed to include a favourite painting of mine – this time, it’s one I loved during my five-year stay as an expat in Hampstead, London.
Its recently concluded exhibition “British Painting from Turner to Whistler” gave me the chance to admire once again “The Bayswater Omnibus” by George William Joy, and I’m no less spoiled in its present exhibition “Shadows – From the Renaissance to Present Day” that runs until 27 October.
This exhibition explores yet another theme of western iconography – shadows – and features an entirely new selection of nearly 140 artworks that takes in 500 years of art history from the Renaissance to present day and includes paintings, installations, sculpture, prints, drawings, cut-outs, photography and video.
Artistic fascination with shadow
The featured artworks highlight the ongoing fascination that artists have had with shadow, from self-portraits by Rembrandt and Delacroix to explorations of perspective by Bandinelli and de Hooch, from studies of chiaroscuro (the contrast of light and shadow) by Cambiaso and Wright of Derby to dramatic landscapes of the Romantic painters Friedrich and Bendz.
Every genre is given its moment: Impressionists (Monet) and post-Impressionists (Cross, Sorolla), the Symbolists (Degouve de Nuncques, Spilliaert), Expressionists (Munch), Surrealists (Dalí, Magritte, Ernst) and the New Objectivity (Schad, Stoecklin).
From Renaissance to Contemporary art forms
And where would any self-respecting exhibition be without a contemporary work by Picasso, who shows up here, as does Warhol, while the video artists Acconci and Otth reinterpret the myths that link shadow to art and knowledge.
Finally, a large photographic section with pieces by Steichen, Ray, and Friedlander exemplifies how masters of photography use the contrast between light and shadow to create indelible images filled with mood and meaning.
And to my favourite piece, a happy reminder of Kenwood House in Hampstead where I spent many priveleged hours. As an animal lover (and cat owner) I suppose I should be upset by the scene depicted, but I’ve always found this playful image — a stunning example of the interplay of light and shadow — totally captivating and seeing it again at the Hermitage hasn’t changed my mind on that, nor will it anytime soon. ♣
Shadows-From the Renaissance to Today
28 June to 27 October 2019
2, rte du Signal,
CH-1000 Lausanne 8
T. +41 (0)21 320 50 01
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Main photo caption: Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, Shadow of the boat, 1903, oil on canvas, Museo Sorolla, Madrid. Photo: Museo Sorolla, Madrid.