Published: January 1, 2002
CAMBRIDGE, MA. – “” examines that artist’s famous oil sketch, “Neptune Calming the Tempest,” in two alternative contexts – historical and visually associative – that bring out its resonance and complexity.
On view at the Fogg Art Museum through March 17, the exhibition is drawn principally from the Harvard University Art Museum’s collection, with 35 objects ranging chronologically from ancient Greek coins to a contemporary conceptual work by the late Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers.
Rubens’s oil sketch is one of the most significant Seventeenth Century paintings in the Fogg collection. It has long been celebrated as both a stirring image of Neptune calming storm-tossed seas, and a preparatory sketch for a giant temporary festival structure built to celebrate the processional entry of the new governor of the Spanish Netherlands into Antwerp in 1635.
Acting on the premise that history is as much a matter of the present as of the past, curator Ivan Gaskell presents the painting in two contexts. One concerns what an historically uninformed viewer might see in this puzzling and dramatic nautical scene today by using visual comparisons. The other offers material that illuminates the cultural tradition and social circumstances within which Rubens was working to produce this painting in Antwerp in the 1630s.
Among the highlights are four other Rubens paintings, including “Leda and the Swan,” circa 1598. Works that add to the conversation are Edgar Degas’s study for “Young Spartans Exercising,” circa 1860-61, and Hiroshi Sugimoto’s “North Pacific Ocean, Stinson Beach” (1994). Inclusion of Broodthaers’s “A Voyage on the North Sea” (1974) – in its book version – provides a link with associate curator of contemporary art Linda Norden’s simultaneous exhibition, “Extreme Connoisseurship,” which includes the slide sequence version of the same work.
The Fogg Art Museum, 32 Quincy Street, is open Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm