SAN MARINO, CA.- The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
will be the first U.S. venue for the important international exhibition Beauty and Power: Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes from the Peter Marino Collection, which will be on view in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery Oct. 9, 2010 through Jan. 24, 2011. The exhibition is a rare look at 24 exceptional bronze statuettes from the private collection of New York architect Peter Marinomost of which have never before been on public view that were made from the mid 16th to the mid 18th century in Italy, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Beauty and Power debuts at the Wallace Collection, London, this spring before it comes to The Huntington and then travels to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in early 2011. (Tour details below.) It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog by Jeremy Warren, reflecting new research on the works. Warren is curator of the exhibition and collections and academic director of the Wallace Collection.
Bronze statuettes, of a scale ideal for display on a table or mantle in a domestic setting, developed as a serious art form in Renaissance Italy with a revival of the ancient Roman bronze casting tradition. Interest in making and collecting them spread north, as they became a popular medium to highlight sculptors technical mastery and aesthetic sophistication. Since antiquity, they have delighted and engaged viewers who contemplated their beauty, inventive and complex compositions, and erudite subject matter, often inspired by Greek and Roman mythology; and they have been fervently collected by cultured and discerning individuals since the Renaissance. The works highlighted in Beauty and Power reflect the collecting passion and acumen of Marino, an art collector and architect who may be best known for his buildings designed for the fashion industry though Marino has recently assembled one of the strongest collections of Renaissance and Baroque bronzes in the nation.
From the first time I had the privilege of viewing Mr. Marinos collection, consisting of many of the most beautiful bronzes that have appeared on the market in recent years, I knew we must do what we could to bring them to Los Angeles audiences, said John Murdoch, Hannah and Russel Kully Director of the Huntington Art Collections.We are delighted to be working with the Wallace Collection and Mr. Marino to present works of such extraordinary artistic quality to our visitors.
The presentation of Beauty and Power at The Huntington will be supplemented with several related examples from the Huntingtons small but artistically important group of Renaissance bronzes, most of which were purchased by Henry Huntington from the great collection of bronzes formed by J. Pierpont Morgan.
The sculptures on display will show a gamut of action and emotion, from the theatrical violence of Samson and the Philistine, attributed to Baccio Bandinelli (1488-1560), to the seductive glamour of Antonio Montauti's (1685-ca.1740) Diana. Other highlights of the exhibition include the French sculptor Corneille van Cleves (1646-1732) masterpiece Bacchus and Ariadne showing the lusty but elegant encounter between the abandoned goddess and her rescuer; two magnificent figurative groups by the Florentine sculptor Giovanni Battista Foggini (1652-1725) depicting the gruesome Flaying of Marsyas and heroic David and Goliath; Ferdinando Taccas (1619-1686) poignant Hercules and Iole; Robert Le Lorrains (1666-1743) graceful Andromeda; and a pair of superb High Baroque vases, decorated with scenes from Roman history. These monumental vases, measuring 33 inches high, are vigorously ornamented with classically inspired acanthus leaves and relief scenes that bring to mind the carving on ancient sarcophagi.
Beauty and Power continues an effort by museums to shed light on distinguished private collections of Renaissance bronzes. The Quentin Collection was displayed at the Frick Collection, New York, in 2005 and the Robert H. Smith Collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C, in 2008.
Rather than simply duplicating a show from one venue to the next, these exhibitions are building on one another to bring light to an important field of study, said Catherine Hess, chief curator of European art and organizer of the exhibition at The Huntington. Much remains to be understood regarding the technical process of making the sculpture as well as understanding matters of connoisseurship. It is thrilling for us to be able to contribute to this international examination and to welcome novices to the appreciation of bronzes. Our presentation, we hope, will engage visitors of all ages and backgrounds with explorations of why collectors become so passionate about collecting these sensuous and evocative sculptures, and to bring to life some of the timeless mythological tales that inspired them.
One of the classic materials of sculpture, bronze has long been sought after as a medium by both artists and collectors because of its power to create, out of molten metal, the most complex and satisfying sculptural forms. Dark and lustrous, with a spectrum of possible surface qualities, bronze sculpture can be used to express the most vivid emotions and experiences.
Peter Marino is one of the worlds leading architects. Andy Warhol and Yves St Laurent were among his first clients when he founded his architectural practice in 1978, with initial commissions including the design of Warhols seminal Factory space and renovation of his New York townhouse. Friendship with Warhol furthered Marinos interest in art collecting, a passion he has been able to develop both while sourcing artworks for clients and through his work for international museums. Marinos museum commissions have included designing the installation for the Sèvres exhibition at the American Craft Museum in 1999 and, this year, the Lalanne sculpture exhibition at Paris Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Meissen Animal and Royal Porcelain Galleries at the Zwinger Palace in Dresden. His recent architectural projects include Chanel boutiques in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Shanghai; a Louis Vuitton boutique in Las Vegas; a Dior Fine Jewelry boutique in Geneva; and Ermenegildo Zegna global flagships in Tokyo and Hong Kong.
A self-confessed obsessive, Marino has built a collection that now ranges from important French porcelain to contemporary painting and, over the last 20 years, he has acquired the 24 bronze sculptures that will go on view in Beauty and Power.