In what is arguably one of the most ambitious exhibitions to be held at Moderna Museet
, three of the greatest painters of the last 200 years are brought together, not in competition, but as a means to explore the ways in which artists across the centuries share interests, values and preoccupations. It is an exhibiton that focuses on the radical nature of painting.
J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851), Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Cy Twombly (1928-2011) were each in their own time revered and reviled. For their supporters they were pioneers who pushed the boundaries of painting beyond existing limits. According to their detractors they painted with reckless abandon. Turner, Monet, Twombly: Later Paintings celebrates three artists who employed paint to express their engagement with social and political issues, and human concerns that traditionally preoccupy men and women in later life, for this is an exhibition of works from the second half of their careers, from a period when the outward battles have been won but when the inward battles commence.
This is the first museum exhibition devoted to any of these three artists to take place in Sweden in living memory and to bring them together is no mean feat. In making this unique exhibition Moderna Museet has called upon loans from museums, private collectors and foundations around the world to assemble an extraordinary selection of paintings never before seen in Sweden for what will surely be a once in a lifetime experience.
The challenge was to find works that speak to each other, where one could imagine the three artists conversing across centuries, questioning, cajoling, applauding, critiquing and challenging each other as though each were present in the same room at the same time, says curator Jeremy Lewison
The choice of works is very deliberate with the exhibition broken down into seven themes: Beauty, Power and Space, which looks at each artists engagement with the sublime, a theme central to English Romantic art but which survived through the modernist movement and is a key feature of Twomblys paintings; Atmosphere, which considers the ways in which the three artists paint land and sea through a filter of atmospheric conditions; Naught so Sweet as Melancholy, named after a phrase in Robert Burtons Anatomy of Melancholy, where the theme of loss and memorialisation are central concerns; The Seasons which reflects upon the passage of time; Fire and Water where all three artists evince the power of the elements; The Vital Force which brings together works of a sensual or erotic nature; and finally A Floating World where each artist contemplates mortality and external events that impact on their lives.
A fully illustrated catalogue, with an in-depth essay by Jeremy Lewison, will accompany the exhibition. Designed by Patric Leo, it is published by Hatje Cantz Verlag in three language editions.