The curators at the Toledo Museum of Art have a right to feel snubbed by the London Press in the reviews of the Manet exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts, but they shouldn’t feel alone.
British journalists and art critics rarely mention the collaborators of the Royal Academy exhibits when they write their reviews.
● About a 2011 exhibit of Edgar Degas paintings, called Degas and the Ballet, Picturing Movement, reviewer Brian Sewell of the Evening Standard cranked out 1,250 words. He didn’t have space to mention the Royal Academy’s collaborator, the Clark Art Institute of Williamstown, Mass.
A review of the same exhibit by Laura Cumming of the Guardian and the Observer also omits reference to the Massachusetts curator, Richard Kendall of the Clark Institute. Nor does she mention by name the independent curator on that exhibit, Jill DeVonyar, or even the Royal Academy’s curator, Ann Dumas.
The Daily Telegraph’s Alastair Sooke wrote of the Degas exhibit, “As this impressive exhibition shows, the Impressionist never put a foot wrong in his ballet pictures.”
Nor did Mr. Sooke put the name of the American art institute that co-curated the exhibition of ballet works in his review.
Siobhan Murphy of the Metro, a United Kingdom newspaper, allows that some of the 85 paintings came from North America. That’s as close as she comes to telling of the Clark Institute’s contribution to the Royal Academy’s exhibition.
An exhibition going on right now at the Royal Academy, David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture, was co-curated with the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, Spain, and the Museum Ludwig of Cologne, Germany.
The Guardian’s Adrian Searle opines about the paintings in 1,328 words, identifying the two museums at the end of the article as the next locations for the exhibition, but not as collaborators.
An intellectually deep piece in the Sunday Telegraph tells us, “There is a suppressed charge of melancholy behind the bright surfaces of many of these pictures, hints even of a conscious morbidity and loneliness.”
No hint, however, as to the Royal Academy’s collaborators on this “blockbusting new show.”
● Even the Musee du Louvre in Paris, perhaps the most famous museum in the world, gets glossed over in the Guardian of London’s report on the Royal Academy’s 2007 exhibition, Citizens and Kings, Portraits in the Age of Revolution, 1760-1830.
Tristram Hunt’s review mentions that Jacques Louis-David’s giant painting, The Death of Marat, which shows a radical politician of the French Revolution just after being stabbed to death in his bath, was hung in the Louvre.
The article also says the exhibit of paintings will show in Paris, London, and New York. But any credit in this erudite review for the humble curators of the Louvre and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation of New York who helped assemble the show of 145 works? None.
Mr. Sewell of the London Evening Standard also wrote about the Citizens and Kings exhibition, omitting reference to the Louvre and the Guggenheim.
It’s just as well. Mr. Sewell was not bowled over by the selections for the exhibit, describing them as “a poor lot,” “ugly,” “quirky,” “second-rate,” and “inferior.”
Contact Tom Troy at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.
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