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A landmark exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts celebrates 5,000 years of bronze
A bronze sculpture entitled 'Dancing Satyr' is pictured during a photocall at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, on September 11, 2012. The restored bronze was discovered by fishermen off the coast of Sicily in 1998 and will be displayed for the first time in the UK at the Royal Academy of Arts' 'Bronze' exhibition which runs from September 15 - December 9, 2012. AFP PHOTO/WILL OLIVER.

LONDON.- The Royal Academy of Arts will present Bronze, a landmark exhibition that celebrates the remarkable historical, geographical and stylistic range of this enduring medium. This exhibition will bring together outstanding works from the earliest times to the present in a thematic arrangement that is fresh and unique. With works spanning 5,000 years, no such cross-cultural exhibition on this scale has ever been attempted. The exhibition will feature over 150 of the finest bronzes from Asia, Africa and Europe and will include important discoveries as well as archaeological excavations. Many of the pieces have never been seen in the UK.

Arranged thematically, Bronze will bring together outstanding works from antiquity to the present. Different sections will focus on the Human Figure, Animals, Groups, Objects, Reliefs, Gods, Heads and Busts. The exhibition will feature stunning Ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan bronzes, through to rare survivals from the Medieval period. The Renaissance will be represented with the works of artists such as Ghiberti, Donatello, Cellini, and later Giambologna, De Vries and others. Bronzes by Rodin, Boccioni, Picasso, Jasper Johns, Moore and Bourgeois will be representative of the best from the 19th century to today.

Bronze has been employed as an artistic medium for over five millennia. It is an alloy consisting mainly of copper, with lesser amounts of tin, zinc and lead. Due to its inherent toughness and resistance, the material’s uses over the centuries have been remarkably varied. A section of the exhibition will be devoted to the complex processes involved in making bronze, enabling visitors to explore how models are made, cast and finished by a variety of different techniques. The exhibition offers a unique exploration of artistic practice, an understanding of the physical properties and distinctive qualities of bronze, and the rare opportunity to see the very best examples in one place.

Among the earliest works in the exhibition will be the 14th century BCE bronze and gold Chariot of the Sun (National Museum, Copenhagen), Denmark’s national treasure; ancient Chinese ritual vessels, including one impressively large example of the type ‘zun’ of zoomorphic form, Elephant-shaped vessel, Shang Dynasty, 1200–1050 BCE (Musée Guimet, Paris); and the masterpiece of Etruscan art, the Chimera of Arezzo, c. 400 BCE (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Florence). Recent archaeological finds will include the magnificent Portrait of King Seuthes III, early Hellenistic period (National Archeological Museum, Sofia), recently discovered during archaeological excavations in Bulgaria and the Crosby Garett Helmet, a Roman cavalry helmet found in Cumbria in 2010 and now in a private collection.

The exhibition will benefit from an extremely strong representation of Renaissance bronzes. These will include Lorenzo Ghiberti’s St Stephen, 1425–29, for one of the external niches on the church of Orsanmichele, Florence; Giovanfrancesco Rustici’s monumental ensemble of St John the Baptist Preaching to a Levite and a Pharisee (1506–11) that for nearly 500 years was set above the north door of the Florence Baptistry (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence); Benvenuto Cellini’s modello for Perseus, c. 1554 (Museo del Bargello, Florence); and Adriaen de Vries’ relief of Vulcan’s Forge, 1611 (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich).

Works from the 19th century to today will include Auguste Rodin’s The Age of Bronze, c. 1876 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London), Henri Matisse’s series of four Back Reliefs, 1901–31 (Tate Modern, London), Constantin Brancusi’s Danaïde, c. 1918 (Tate Modern, London), Pablo Picasso’s witty Baboon and Young, 1951 (Minneapolis Institute of Arts), Jasper Johns’ Ale Cans, 1960 (Ludwig Museum, Cologne) and Louise Bourgeois’ Spider IV, 1996 (The Easton Foundation, New York).

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September 12, 2012

A landmark exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts celebrates 5,000 years of bronze

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