Published: June 20, 2017
NEW YORK CITY – The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will present “Mystical Symbolism: The Salon de la Rose+Croix in Paris, 1892-1897,” June 30-October 4, the first museum exhibition on this revelatory and significant yet frequently overlooked series of salons.
Mysterious, mythical and visionary themes, often drawn from literature, prevailed in the art of the six exhibitions, which were held annually in Paris from 1892 to 1897. Images of femmes fragiles and fatales, androgynous creatures, chimeras and incubi were the norm, as were sinuous lines, attenuated figures and anti-naturalistic forms. Featuring highlights from the salons, the Guggenheim exhibition will include approximately 40 works by a cross section of artists – some familiar, others less so – and invite a fresh look at and new scholarship on the legacies of late Nineteenth Century Symbolist art.
“Mystical Symbolism” is organized by Vivien Greene, senior curator, Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Art, with the assistance of Ylinka Barotto, assistant curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Following its New York presentation, the exhibition will travel to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, October 28-January 7.
In spring 1892, Joséphin Péladan (1859-1918), author, critic and Rosicrucian, organized the first Salon de la Rose+Croix at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris. Showcasing mystical Symbolist art, particularly a hermetic and spiritually devoted vein favored by the eccentric Péladan, the annual salons were cosmopolitan in reach and served as a crossroads, gathering the work of artists from Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.
Benefiting from extensive research to identify artworks shown in the original exhibitions, “Mystical Symbolism” will encompass painting, work on paper and sculpture by artists such as Antoine Bourdelle, Rogelio de Egusquiza, Jean Delville, Charles Filiger, Ferdinand Hodler, Fernand Khnopff, Alphonse Osbert, Armand Point, Georges Rouault, Carlos Schwabe, Alexandre Séon, Jan Toorop, Ville Vallgren and Félix Vallotton.
The exhibition provides an opportunity to explore the diverse and sometimes opposing concepts that informed Symbolism in the 1890s. Hinging on central artworks shown at each salon, the exhibition will tease out seminal tropes, such as the role of Orpheus, adulation of the Fifteenth Century early Renaissance Italian painters known as the Primitives and the cult of personality that developed around figures such as Richard Wagner and Péladan himself. Accompanied by historical documents and set in galleries adorned with lush furnishings, the exhibition conveys the spirit of the Salon de la Rose+Croix experience. A musical component with work by Erik Satie and others underscores the key role occupied by composers for the movement.
Previous exhibitions on the Symbolist movement have focused primarily on a nationality or a broad theme, rather than on a specific event like the cultish Péladan’s Salon de la Rose+Croix. The participants’ diverging ideologies, ranging from politically conservative and Catholic to radically anarchist and anti-clerical, reveal how the varied approaches are dialectically related to the sacred and spiritual philosophies that constituted Symbolist art. By tracing the means through which the salon proposed these impulses, the Guggenheim exhibition investigates the Symbolist precepts attendant in modernism.
The fully illustrated exhibition catalog will offer new scholarship on the Salon de la Rose+Croix and Symbolism. It will comprise essays on the salon and its main themes, the contemporary reception of the salon, and the connections between Symbolists tenets and those of early Twentieth Century avant-garde artists. The catalog will also contain a selected bibliography and artist entries authored by emerging scholars.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is at 1071 Fifth Avenue. For information, 212-423-3500 or www.guggenheim.org.
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