Johannesburg Art Gallery masterpieces, from Monet to Warhol, on display in Bergamo province

From May 19 to Sept. 3, 2023, the Gianni Bellini Art Gallery in Sarnico (Bergamo) is hosting the exhibition "From Monet to Warhol. Masterpieces from the Johannesburg Art Gallery." On display are sixty works by great artists from the mid-nineteenth century to the second half of the twentieth century.

The Gianni Bellini Art Gallery in Sarnico (Bergamo) hosts from May 19 to September 3, 2023 the exhibition From Monet to Warhol. Masterpieces from the Johannesburg Art Gallery, curated by Simona Bartolena and Massimo Rossi. Produced and organized by ViDi Cultural, in collaboration with Associazione Il Ponte di Sarnico, under the patronage of the Municipality of Sarnico, the exhibition aims to remember Nelson Mandela, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his death.

Sixty works, including oils, watercolors, and graphics, from the prestigious South African art gallery, which opened to the public in 1910 and boasts a heritage of great artistic value, will be on display. Its collection includes artists such as Courbet, Corot, Monet, Degas, Rossetti, Millais, Picasso, Bacon, Lichtenstein, Warhol, and many others, spanning more than a century of international art history, from the mid-nineteenth century to the latter twentieth century.

The narrative ideally begins with the English nineteenth century and two works by William Turner and continues with Alma-Tadema’s painting, The Death of the Firstborn, a refined and melancholy scene set in a dark and imaginative Egypt, and with the works of two of the major exponents of the Pre-Raphaelites, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti whose masterpiece, Regina cordium, or Elizabeth Siddal, with whom the painter lived an ’intense yet ill-fated love affair, which ended with the woman’s probable suicide.

The exhibition continues with a large section devoted to the achievements of late 19th-century painting and opens with those painters who chose a new approach to the real in painting, such as Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, here with a small Landscape, Gustave Courbet with a foreshortening of the Norman cliffs of Étretat, and Jean-François Millet. The Impressionist generation, introduced by authors such as Eugéne Boudin and Johan Barthold Jongkind, is represented by Edgar Degas(Two Ballerinas), Claude Monet(Spring) and Alfred Sisley. The exhibition tour continues with some protagonists of the post-Impressionist scene: Paul Cézanne(The Bathers), Vincent Van Gogh(Portrait of an Old Man), Pierre Bonnard, and Edouard Vuillard.

Crossing the threshold of the twentieth century, one encounters the works of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, which open to the new instances of contemporary art, with Ossip Zadkine and others. There is no shortage of exponents of the second half of the century: the British Francis Bacon and Henry Moore, and the two protagonists of American pop art Robert Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, whose triptych dedicated to Joseph Beuys is presented.

Ideally closing the exhibition is the section that investigates art developed in South Africa in the 20th century. In particular, it is possible here to admire the works of Maggie Laubser, one of the exponents of South African expressionism, and the works of Maude Sumner, Selby Mvusi and George Pemba, painters with strong interests in the social sphere who recount the country’s traditions, but also urban life and the reality of Apartheid.

The exhibition gives the public an opportunity to discover the fascinating history of the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Principal player in the birth and formation of the museum collection was Lady Florence Phillips, wife of mining magnate Sir Lionel Phillips. A woman of great charm (as evidenced by her portrait, exhibited here, by Antonio Mancini), herself a collector, convinced that her city should have an art museum, she persuaded her husband and a number of industrial magnates to invest in the project. Determined to pursue her idea, Lady Phillips sold a blue diamond given to her by her husband to purchase the early work. Hugh Lane, another great personality of the Anglo-Saxon cultural scene, helped her in the venture, suggesting possible acquisitions. Since its opening, the museum has presented a selection of works of extraordinary quality and modernity, a nucleus that has been enriched over the years by new acquisitions and donations.

For info:

Hours: Thursday and Friday from 4 to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Tickets: Full 12 euros, reduced 10 euros for over 65s and students, reduced 5 euros for under 14s and schools. Free for children under 6, journalists with ID, disabled.

Image: Claude Monet, Spring (1875; oil on canvas). Courtesy of the Johannesburg Art Gallery.

Johannesburg Art Gallery masterpieces, from Monet to Warhol, on display in Bergamo province
Johannesburg Art Gallery masterpieces, from Monet to Warhol, on display in Bergamo province

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