Debrecen’s MODEM Modern and Contemporary Arts Centre will present masterpieces from the Johannesburg Art Gallery between 19 June and 23 September 2018. The South African gallery was opened to the public in 1910, and boasts an unparalleled wealth of treasured artworks. The exhibition, the material of which has not been seen anywhere in Europe up to now, and which will first be presented in MODEM, Hungary to this extent, holds an array of works from Impressionist efforts to both the foregoing and subsequent trends. Over fifty works will be presented at the exhibition including oil paintings, watercolours and drawings, which will guide viewers through more than a century of international history of art, from the 19th to the late 20th century, with the most significant artists from Courbet to Corot to Monet to Degas to Rossetti to Millais to Picasso to Bacon to Lichtenstein to Warhol.
The first section starts with 19th-century efforts in England, with works by illustrious members of the Pre-Raphaelites including John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. With respect to the latter it is worth mentioning the masterpiece entitled Regina Cordium depicting “the queen of hearts”, Elizabeth Siddal, with whom the painter had an intensive but tragic love affair, which ended with the probable suicide of the lady. Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s painting Death of the Pharaoh’s Firstborn Son is a refined and melancholy scene set in a dark Egyptian environment rife with symbolic meanings.
Moving away from the Pre-Raphaelites, without respect to the logic of chronology, visitors may see drawings and graphic pieces from the period encompassing the entire timeframe of the 8 exhibition including Vincent van Gogh’s Old Man portrait in coal, Amedeo Modigliani’s exceptionally sensual female figure as well as Matisse’s and Picasso’s works, among other pieces.
William Turner’s two sensory landscapes are followed by painters of the Barbizon School, who chose a novel way, plein air painting, to seek truth. A small landscape by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet’s depiction of the cliffs of Étretat in Normandy and Jean-François Millet’s characteristic peasants all appear at the exhibition.
An introduction to the Impressionists is provided by pieces including Johan Barthold Jongkind’s and Eugéne Boudin’s breezy beach scenes. The group of Impressionists, comprising one of the main units of the show, is represented by high-standard works such as Edgar Degas’s pastel of dancers, Claude Monet’s Spring and Alfred Sisley’s colourful riverbank. The Post-Impressionist movement also appears with eminent artists: the exhibition space will feature Paul Cézanne’s, Paul Signac’s, Pierre Bonnard’s, Édouard Vuillard’s and André Derain’s works.
This selection from the JAG collection also highlights 20th-century South African art: this section will primarily feature Maggie Laubser, a noted local representative of Expressionism, as well as Maud Sumner’s, Selby Mvusi’s, and George Pemba’s works, whose art evidences an interest in South African traditions as well as social problems, not excluding the realities of urban life and the apartheid either. The final section of Impressions features distinguished representatives of the late 20th century, Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon, as well as two protagonists of American pop art, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, including Warhol’s triptych dedicated to Joseph Beuys.
Curators: Simona Bartolena, Süli-Zakar Szabolcs