Friday, March 12, 2010

Unique Series of Craeyvanger Family Portraits On Display at the Mauritshuis Museum


German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, second left, look at the painting "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermeer during a visit at Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday March 11, 2010. Merkel is in the Netherlands for a one-day visit. AP Photo/Robert Vos.

THE HAGUE.- The Mauritshuis is displaying ten exceptional portraits of Arnhem’s Craeyvanger family until 16 January 2011. The paintings are the only known series of portraits of the members of a single family - father, mother and eight children - to have survived from the seventeenth century. The series’ existence was relatively unknown until the paintings came up for auction in 2009. A private collection has lent the works to the Mauritshuis, where the unique ensemble are on display to the public for the first time in the Netherlands.

Craeyvanger Family
Willem Craeyvanger and Christine van der Wart were married on 20 November 1639. He was 22 years of age, and she was likely to have been somewhat younger. As well as being a cloth merchant, Willem was also the Rentmeester, or land agent, for the city of Arnhem and Governor of the city’s guild of merchants, the Guild of St. Nicholas. The couple prospered and had a big family: six boys and two girls survived infancy. Even by seventeenth-century standards, this was a large number of children. In 1666, fate intervened. The couple went bankrupt in March of that year and their possessions were seized, with the exception of the portraits, presumably because these were of little interest to the creditors. The Craeyvanger family portraits were handed down from generation to generation for several centuries. As a result, very few people – and even fewer art historians – knew of their existence. In 2009, a private collection acquired the entire series after they were put up for auction, ensuring that after 350 years the family would remain together.

Unique Series
In the seventeenth century, it was not uncommon for the portraits of an entire family to be painted. Usually this took the form of a group portrait. The Craeyvangers, however, decided to commission ten individual portraits, a highly unusual thing to do at that time. Even more remarkable is the fact that the result is the only surviving series of seventeenth-century portraits to depict the members of a single family.

The portraits were painted at different times. During a visit to The Hague in 1651, Willem Craeyvanger had his portrait painted by the local painter Paulus Lesire (1612-c.1654), who originally came from Dordrecht. Christine’s portrait followed in 1655. Lesire had died in 1654, so the commission fell to the young Caspar Netscher (c.1635/36-1684). Together with his master, Gerard ter Borch (1617-1681), Netscher painted all eight of the couple’s children in 1658. Ter Borch painted the four older children, Netscher the younger four. And just as their parents had been, the children were painted in pairs, neatly organised by their ages and the attribute they were holding.

The Craeyvanger family portraits are displayed together in one room of the museum, together with several other portraits by Gerard ter Borch from the Mauritshuis’ own collection.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Christie's to Offer Monumental Masterpiece by Yves Klein in New York in May


A Christie's employee stands next to French artist Yves Klein's masterpiece 'ANT 93, Le Buffle' (The Buffalo), 1960-61, as another walks past it at Christie's auction house in London, Britain, 04 March 2010. The painting by the French artist is offered for the first time at auction in New York, USA, on 11 May and is expected to fetch 10 million USD. Klein used females bodies as the paintbrush along with his distinctive 'International Klein Blue' colour, the artist's patented pigment. EPA/FELIPE TRUEBA.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s will offer a large-scale masterpiece by Yves Klein at the auction of Post-War and Contemporary Art in New York on the evening of 11 May 2010. ANT 93, Le Buffle (“The Buffalo”), 1960-61, is a monumental work from the artist’s celebrated Anthropométrie series that stands over 9 feet wide (70 x 110 3/8 in. / 177.8 x 280.4 cm.). Offered at auction for the first time, the work is expected to realise in the region of $10 million. The sale coincides with the first major American retrospective of the artist’s work for 30 years, Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers which will be held at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., from 20 May to 12 September 2010 and The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, from 23 October 2010 to 13 February 2011.

The strength of Klein’s market was demonstrated at the London sales held this February, where the works of Yves Klein achieved a combined total of £16,355,500/$25,576,169, with £10,234,500/$15,988,406 sold at Christie's alone. The particularly buoyant results that have been realised by Klein reflect the current wave of vested interest in the Art Zero Movement, of which ANT 93, Le Buffle (“The Buffalo”) is a perfect example.

ANT 93, Le Buffle (“The Buffalo”) was executed in 1960-61 and is a monumental work from the last great series created by the artist before his untimely death by way of heart attack at the age of 34. Photographs of the artist in his flat in Paris in the early 1960s reveal ANT 93, Le Buffle (“The Buffalo”) hanging prominently on his sitting room wall; the artist with Martial Raysse). Additional examples from this small and rare group can be found at The Centre Pompidou, Paris and Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao.

Painted in the distinctive ‘International Klein Blue’ – the artist’s patented pigment for which he is most recognised– it is a work that captures and presents the artist’s fascination with movement, form and human existence. Over a giant support, Klein orchestrated the movement of curvaceous women coated in his signature pigment to create this glorious rhapsody in Klein Blue which has literally used the beautiful female form as the paintbrush to create a giant animalistic image, hence the subtitle, Le Buffle (“The Buffalo”). “I personally would never attempt to smear paint over my own body and become a living brush; on the contrary, I would rather put on my tuxedo and wear white gloves. I would not even think of dirtying my hands with paint. Detached and distant, the work of art must complete itself before my eyes and under my command. Thus, as soon as the work is realised, I stand there, present at the ceremony, spotless, calm, relaxed, worthy of it, and ready to receive it as it is born into the tangible world” said Yves Klein as quoted by N. Rosenthal in ‘Assisted Levitation: The Art of Yves Klein (pp.89-135, Yves Klein 1928-1962: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Houston, 1982, p. 124).

Yves Klein (1928-1962) is recognised as one of the most influential artists of the Post-War period. Having lived in Japan studying as a judo teacher in the early 1950s, he returned to Paris in 1954 where he first found fame for his exhibitions of monochrome paintings and then for Le vide, an avant-garde exhibition held in 1958 which consisted of an empty gallery with white painted walls and a large cabinet. Klein experimented with a number of methods for applying paint including sponges and rollers. In 1960 he first exhibited works from a new series he called Anthropométrie for which he applied paint using the flawless female bodies of naked models. Also referred to as ‘living brushes’, Klein often dressed in evening wear and pristine white gloves to conduct the production of his painting, done to the accompaniment of an orchestra playing his Symphonie Monotone – a single note played for ten minutes and alternated with ten minutes’ silence. These works drew a great reception in Europe and Anthropométrie become one of the artist’s most celebrated series.