As blockbuster exhibitions have become more prohibitively expensive to mount, museums have had to work to fill their exhibition schedules with more modest shows, usually based on a fairly specific theme.
Far from being disappointing, I’ve found this trend to be filled with unexpected delights and often enlightening twists on how the works and artists are viewed.
A case in point is Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century, on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York until July 4, 2011.
The theme here is a simple one, compositions in which the artist has used an open window as a major component, if not the overt focus of the work. This was a common theme in the 19th Century, and the exhibition is even more specific, focusing on the early two decades of the century and works by German, Danish, French, Italian and Russian artists, several of them artists’ studio interiors.
The museum’s feature on the exhibition includes a gallery of selected works, each linked to a slightly larger image. Presumably, you can look up the image and artist on the web site of the institution from which the original is on loan if you are interested in pursuing the works further.
I happen to particularly enjoy this subject, and would love to see an exhibition in which it was expanded across eras and genres to include works like Young Woman Drawing by Marie-Denise Villers, the open windows of Pieter de Hooch and the enigmatic window/canvas paintings of Rene Magritte; but that’s a thought for the future.
For the moment, the Met has opened a window on a specific, fascinating aspect of the early 19th Century.
(Images above: Martin Drolling [att.], Jacob Alt, Martinus Rorbye, Giovanni Battista de Gubernatis, Leon Cogniet, Georg Friedrich Kersting)