Wednesday 28 October 2015

Helly Nahmad Gallery and Phoenix Ancient Art Join Forces

According to the press release ("Helly Nahmad Gallery  and Phoenix Ancient Art Join Forces to Create an Art Exhibition that Spans Millennia" PR Newswire Oct. 27, 2015)  New Yorkers can soon see 'Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity'  at the Helly Nahmad Gallery, 975 Madison Avenue:
"an exhibition juxtaposing twentieth century paintings by Giorgio de Chirico and genuine Greek and Roman antiquities, all sourced from preeminent private collections, and never before seen together in the public eye. Modern painting and antiquity come together in an elegant pairing that will challenge viewers' predispositions on Modern Art. Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity will reveal the aesthetic impact Classicism had on twentieth century Modernism, exemplified in a body of work done by the Greek-born, Italian master Giorgio de Chirico. Known mostly for his association with the Surrealists, the exhibition focuses on his often-misunderstood series of Neo-classical paintings done after a stylistic shift in the 1920s. The paintings exhibited incorporate the major themes of this period: deserted valleys dotted with classical ruins, figurative works of philosophers and Greek gods, scenes with gladiators clad in armor and heroic horses in windswept landscapes. Illustrating his inspiration, these historic paintings are exhibited alongside a carefully curated selection of precious objects from antiquity, including outstanding Greek and Roman marble statues of gods and muses, mosaics, bronze armor and Greek vases"
.It seems to me Mr Nahmad has landed himself a dead-man's collection of canvases of this artist who turned out rather unattractive paintings and is trying to think of a way of marketing them. Mr Aboutaam is glad of the opportunity to show prospective new buyers wanting to enter the art market how much more aesthetically appealing his stuff is than the modern art shown alongside it. This displaying modern and ancient art together idea is a fad which owes as much to the rather eclectic (or unfocussed) tastes of today's high end collectors investing cash "in art" as the notions of the "universal museum". Bur, if one takes into account the rather restricted range of the oevre of the artist in question, I really do not think it needs any kind of an exhibition to show the "impact" Classicism (sic) had on the artist's choice of subject matter. It seems pretty obvious really. In any case, do not the architecture and broken sculpture in de Chirico's canvases stand for something else? 

I am sure we are all interested in the collecting histories of the  Greek and Roman antiquities,"all sourced from preeminent private collections, and never before seen together in the public eye". Where did they "surface" (from underground) and are the full details given in the glossy catalogue which no doubt accompanies the show? If the antiquities are all genuine period pieces, what about the paintings, are there any of the infamous back-dated copies of the Italian artist's more saleable works in his earlier metaphysical style?

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