Déjà Vu? Revealing Repetition in French Masterpieces
Press Preview: Monday, Oct. 1, 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Baltimore—The Walters Art Museum will present Déjà Vu? Revealing Repetition in French Masterpieces, an unprecedented international loan exhibition exploring the significance of artistic repetition through the art of 11 celebrated 19th- and 20th-century French painters. On view Oct. 7, 2007 through Jan. 1, 2008, this exhibition includes 76 paintings, pastels, drawings, prints, photographs and sculptures. It will also feature several multimedia interactive tools, including a unique video installation shot in high-resolution and projected to life-size. Many of the related versions of these well-known compositions have never been exhibited side-by-side before. The exhibition is presented by The PNC Foundation, the charitable giving arm of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE:PNC), which acquired Mercantile Bankshares Corporation in March. Déjà Vu? will travel to the Phoenix Art Museum from Jan. 20 to May 4, 2008.
Featuring influential artists of early modernism (1800–1940), the exhibition includes works by Jacques-Louis David, Eugène Delacroix, Jean-Dominique Ingres, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas and Henri Matisse. The works selected exemplify the many reasons for painterly repetition, whether as part of a creative process, in response to market demand or to the aesthetic shift that would eventually lead to the development of the now familiar Impressionist series. Also featured are new conservation findings using infrared photographs, X-radiographs and enhanced digital photography, which uncover physical evidence of the artistic process and/or resolve any lingering questions of authenticity.
Déjà Vu? will include some of the most recognizable imagery of the Western tradition, ranging from David’s brilliant Revolutionary martyr portrait The Death of Marat to Monet’s Grainstacks to Matisse’s colorful domestic interiors populated by women at leisure.
“Repetition is so prevalent a characteristic of everyday life, whether in the realm of advertising or in the fine arts, that we have become accustomed to it as a phenomenon of modernity,” said organizing Walters curator Eik Kahng. “This exhibition will capitalize on the natural predisposition to examine subtle differences between closely related images, thereby compelling the kind of sustained looking so infrequently practiced in this fast-paced technological age and so essential for the appreciation of the static medium of painting.”
“We are proud to be able to show such extraordinary works of art from great museums around the world, including the Louvre, the Hermitage, the Met and the National Gallery, London for this thought-provoking exhibition,” said Walters Director Gary Vikan. “This show not only includes paintings of the finest quality, but also asks and engages important questions of contemporary art and experience that will stimulate broad public interest.”
“PNC is proud to present Déjà Vu?,” said Jay Wilson, former Walters president and chairman, and vice chairman of Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Company. “PNC has a long history of supporting the arts and recognizes the contribution the arts make to the vitality of our neighborhoods. The international works of French masters that will be part of this unique exhibition are yet another example of the first-class projects the Walters is known for bringing to our community.”
Déjà Vu? Revealing Repetition in French Masterpieces has been organized by the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, in association with the Phoenix Art Museum. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Déjà Vu? Revealing Repetition in French Masterpieces is presented by The PNC Foundation with lead support from four anonymous donors. Contributing sponsors are Canusa Corporation, Stanley Mazaroff and Nancy Dorman, and Sotheby’s.
About the Exhibition
In this fascinating exhibition, the changing significance of copying and compositional repetition in both academic and avant-garde painting will be investigated. Déjà Vu? will explore the varied motivations for repetition, including learning through copying, cultivating market demand through reproductive technologies, such as print-making and photography, as well as showcasing the 19th-century tactic of painting in series—still an artistic staple of 21st-century modernism. Visitors will learn why artists repeated themselves, how they technically achieved self-repetition and what the possible meanings associated with repetition are in modern painting.
The installation will feature some spectacular reunions. For example, David’s The Death of Marat in the Royal Museums of Brussels, Belgium will be virtually present in the form of a life-size, high-resolution video produced for this exhibition, showing the painting both from the point of view of visitors in Brussels and from the point of view of the Marat itself. This literally moving record of the ‘original’ portrait by the great neoclassicist David will encourage close comparison between it and four painted copies produced under David’s direction by some of his most gifted pupils.
Yet another innovative activity created specifically for the exhibition will allow for a computer-generated reunion of Monet’s Grainstacks, whose initial display as a complete series in 1891 remains a practical impossibility to repeat today. The Walters has partnered with The John Hopkins University Media Center to create an interactive computer program that allows visitors to manipulate 12 Grainstack paintings in a virtual picture gallery where they can select sequence, architectural décor and framing style. They will exercise their taste as instant ‘connoisseurs,’ an effect that accounts in part for the irresistible appeal of Monet’s recipe of painting in series. Visitors will confront head-on the difference between virtual and ‘real’ objects, as they compare their own response to the three exhibited painted Grainstacks and their miniaturized digital counterparts.
Other exhibition highlights include side-by-side installation of three distinct versions of Ingres’ mesmerizing Oedipus and the Sphinx from throughout the artist’s career culminating in the compositional ‘solution’ Ingres achieved in the weeks before his death. For the first time, Corot’s poetic Evening Star will be exhibited in three different versions, including a canvas from a private collection that has never been exhibited alongside the better known versions now preserved in the Musée des Augustins, Toulouse and at the Walters.
The Walters will present two small in-house exhibitions as companion shows. Recurrence will include works from the Walters’ Asian, Egyptian and ancient Greek collections with each group of works focusing on a specific subject repeated countless times over hundreds of years. The Repeating Image in Renaissance and Baroque Art will look at the theme of artistic copying, popular between the 1300s and the mid-1700s, with the aim of showing that artists of these periods had a range of motivations for replicating earlier works and did not always think of copying in the derogatory sense of forgery.
Cell Phone/IPOD Tours
The Walters will offer its first-ever cell phone tour. Visitors will have the opportunity to take the free tour of Déjà Vu? and its accompanying focus shows Recurrence and The Repeating Image in Renaissance and Baroque Art. While linking these three shows together, this tour will provide insightful expert commentary and visitor observations. The cell phone tour number is 888-411-1231. Also featured in the special exhibition Déjà Vu? will be three video IPOD stops, featuring behind-the-scenes footage of conservators and curators discussing the works on view up close and personal.
The exhibition is accompanied by a 200-page illustrated catalogue edited by Kahng and featuring in-depth essays authored by renowned specialists, Stephen Bann at the University of Bristol; Simon Kelly at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City; Richard Shiff at the University of Texas, Austin; Charles F. Stuckey, a leading specialist in Impressionist and modern art; and Jeffrey Weiss of the Dia Art Foundation in New York. Distributed by Yale University Press, the hardcover edition will be available for $50 and the softcover for $24.95 in the Museum Store or at www.thewalters.org.
Déjà Vu? is a special ticketed exhibition. Advance tickets go on sale Sept. 10. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster through Ticketmaster.com or 800-551-SEAT (7328); at the Walters through 410-547-9000, ext. 265, or the Box Office during museum hours. General admission to the Walters’ permanent collection is free.
Special Exhibition Admission:
• Adults $12
• Seniors $8
• College students/Young adults (18–25) $6
• Age 17 & under/Walters Members FREE
Museum hours are Wednesday–Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Walters will be open on the following days: Columbus Day, the day after Thanksgiving, the day after Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The Walters Art Museum
The Walters Art Museum is located in Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District at North Charles and Centre streets and is one of only a few museums worldwide to present a comprehensive history of art from the third millennium B.C. to the early 20th century. Among its thousands of treasures, the Walters holds the finest collection of ivories, jewelry, enamels and bronzes in America and a spectacular reserve of illuminated manuscripts and rare books. The Walters’ Egyptian, Greek and Roman, Byzantine, Ethiopian and western medieval art collections are among the best in the nation, as are the museum’s holdings of Renaissance and Asian art. Every major trend in French painting during the 19th century is represented by one or more works in the Walters’ collection.
Peabody Court is the official hotel of the Walters Art Museum. This historic property is just around the corner from the museum and features George’s, a full-service restaurant. For hotel reservations, call 1-800-292-5500 and ask for the special Walters discounted rate.