The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, October 22, 2014


The jewels of the Museo de Arte de Ponce collection presented like never before
Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833–1898), The Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon, 1881–98. Oil on canvas.
PONCE, PR.- The history of art can be seen as a series of magnificent obsessions. What would the most famous painting in the world have been had Leonardo da Vinci not been entranced by the enigmatic smile of that Florentine lady we know today as the Mona Lisa? How would we see the modern world without the compulsion that led Andy Warhol to make repeated identical images of Campbell’s soup cans? A spectacular chapter in the history of artistic obsessions awaits visitors in the Museo de Arte de Ponce, where the medieval legend of King Arthur comes alive in the new exhibit The Art of the Empire: Three Centuries of British Art.

Edward Burne-Jones’ painting The Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon is a monumental work—the size, in fact, is of a movie screen. It has a large cast of characters: more than a dozen damsels of ethereal beauty watch over King Arthur’s sleep on the magical isle where time seems to have stopped. At the center of it all lays Arthur, and though some of the figures express sadness, we know that he will arise again. This is, truly, an ambitious painting, but the painting the public has seen for over a hundred years is only part of the story. Behind the shimmering colors are an epic saga of unbridled creativity and the singular obsession of an artist who could not turn loose of his masterpiece.

According to Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, King Arthur was mortally wounded in his last battle against the evil Mordred. Three queens carried him to the magical isle of Avalon, where the king entered a sleep resembling death. The Amazonian warriors who surround the pavilion look out in all directions, awaiting signs that Arthur is needed once more in the world. When they see these signs, they will blow their trumpets to awaken him. For Burne-Jones, this painting came to represent both his contempt for the commercial values of the art market and his belief in beauty as an antidote to materialism and social decay.

“It took him over twenty years at the end of the nineteenth century to paint it,” says the museum’s associate curator, Pablo Pérez d’Ors, who has organized the exhibit and overseen the special gallery where The Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon is displayed. “It began as a small decorative painting that was intended to hang over the bookcase of the man who originally commissioned it, but it kept growing and growing. It was unfinished even at Burne-Jones’ death.”

Every step of that daunting process was documented in drawings, studies, sketches, and photographs. Over a dozen complementary pieces give visitors unique access to the creative process. The materials are so rich that as visitors tour the gallery where the pieces are hung, they feel they are looking over Burne-Jones’ shoulder as he paints. These pieces were part of museum founder Luis A. Ferré’s vision as he gradually acquired them to accompany one of the museum’s emblematic paintings.

“There are many curious facts that emerged as we prepared for this exhibit,” Pérez d’Ors adds. “For example, one of the demands that Luis Ferré made of Edward Durell Stone, the architect of the museum we are standing in now, was that he had to design a gallery large enough to hold this painting.”

It is that gallery that serves as the emphatic final stop in the tour through the past and present of British art that is The Art of the Empire: Three Centuries of British Art. Here viewers can linger before the painting and lose themselves in its many characters. And while they do this, they can compare the final result with the sketches in which the painter tried out his approach to one of England’s most lasting, and treasured legend. In the journey, surprising discoveries emerge. Burne-Jones, for example, first painted each of his Amazon women hovering around the king’s inert body without clothing, and then he clothed them with perfectly tailored brushstrokes.

The artist’s identification with the painting reached such a pitch that he portrayed his own features as King Arthur’s. It was that total melding with the subject that defined the last twenty years of Burne-Jones’ life, and that, perhaps, prevented him from completing the work. He worked on the painting every day, devoting entire months to perfecting the tiniest details. As time passed, it became clear that finishing the work would mean entering the deep sleep that so attracted him.

“Sometimes he would write his wife and say getting closer and closer to Avalon, but I have yet to arrive,’” Pérez d’Ors says at last. “And shortly after that, he died. He saw that Avalon was his final destination and his death.”

The story of this obsession can be discovered in its entirety in The Art of the Empire: Three Centuries of British Art in the Museo de Arte de Ponce. Come discover it for yourself.





Today's News

May 3, 2013

Exhibition of nude photography around 1900 on view at Berlin's Photography Museum

Researchers say first permanent English settlers in America resorted to cannibalism

Unreleased Bob Dylan anti-nuclear bomb song to be sold at Christie's London in June

Exhibition of paintings by the preeminent realist painter Claudio Bravo opens at Marlborough

The jewels of the Museo de Arte de Ponce collection presented like never before

Exhibition of recent paintings and sculpture by Anselm Kiefer opens at Gagosian Gallery in New York

Fathom: Spencer Finch's debut solo exhibition at James Cohan Gallery opens in New York

Kansas City's Kemper Museum founders step down from Board, new Chairman appointed

David Platzker appointed Curator in the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books

New photographs and sculptures by Sara VanDerBeek on view at Metro Pictures

RR Auctions announces 2013 massive Space & Aviation Autograph & Artifact Auction

Wolfgang Tillmans' eleventh solo show at Andrea Rosen Gallery opens in New York

Top of the bill: Giant rubber duck by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman sails into Hong Kong

The hawk has landed: Mysterious Japanese sculpture to make 120K at Bonhams

Tour-de-force of large-scale works on canvas by Kim Dorland opens at Mike Weiss Gallery

¡Adelante! The Mexican Museum moves forward in 2013

Three world record set for glass at Bonhams

David Jarrett joins Antiquorum Auctioneers as horological consultant

Exhibition of new work by Tim Hawkinson opens at The Pace Gallery in New York

Los Angeles County Museum of Art highlights Henri Matisse's final commissioned artwork

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Image of a Christ without a beard, short hair and wearing a toga unearthed in Spain

2.- Giant mosaic unearthed in mysterious tomb in Amphipolis in northern Macedonia

3.- Bonhams sale of 18th century French decorative arts to benefit Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

4.- Paris flustered by erection of 'sex-toy' sculpture; Paul McCarthy slapped by a passer-by

5.- High art or vile pornography? Marquis de Sade explored in Orsay museum exhibition

6.- 'Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection' opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

7.- Greek culture minister says Elgin Marbles return a matter of 'global heritage'

8.- Vandals deflate Paris 'sex-toy' sculpture by American artist Paul McCarthy after outrage

9.- Exhibition at National Gallery in London explores Rembrandt's final years of painting

10.- 'Hans Memling: A Flemish Renaissance' opens at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site