The exhibition is guest-curated by Jessica Morgan (Tate Modern) and runs through to October 10. (Stamatina, we still have time;-)
All the participants and details here:
SophiaThe Last Grand Tour
GREECE as a focus of artistic creativity is the theme of The Last Grand Tour, the Museum of Cycladic Art’s latest offering that examines how the cultural history and geographical characteristics of this country have continued to provide a source of modern artistic inspiration.
Guest-curated by Tate Modern’s Jessica Morgan, the group show features works by international artists who have lived and worked in Greece over the last seven decades.
Prior to giving reporters a guided tour of the exhibition on April 13 she said that as part of her curatorial assignment she was “keen to come up with a proposal that would be of certain significance in the context of both the museum and Athens”. Morgan, a frequent traveller to Greece over the last eight years, was fascinated by Cycladic figurines, also a source of inspiration for many a visiting artist.
In the process of tracing the key figures among those artists who not only visited the country on many occasions but also produced work here, she selected the ones who were “the most embedded”. During her visits to the island of Hydra she came to realise that artists were not just visiting Greece in the passing. “They had started to keep homes and produce a body of work here,” she said. “They were not simply working in isolation but were meeting with other artists, contributing to the establishment of an artistic community.”
Among artists, Canadian singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen is represented by the famed “Like a Bird on the Wire”, which he started writing while living on Hydra; the song can be heard in the background.
Unlike the original Grand Tour of the 17th and 18th centuries which served as an educational rite of passage for the privileged classes and focused on the viewing of the ruins of the Classical period, The Last Grand Tour is not confined to Greece’s glorious past that inspired Lord Byron and the Romantic artists.
For the first time ever, the Cycladic Museum show brings under the same roof artists “who were not just drawn to antiquity”, Morgan said, “but to ordinary life too, including the country’s food or traditions that were starting to disappear.”
Museum visitors will have the opportunity to see paintings by British artists John Craxton and Ben Nicholson. Craxton’s “Black Greek Landscape with Figures” (1950) indicates the artist’s love for everyday culture. A landmark work, his “Self-Portrait” (1946) was made during an early trip to Greece in the company of Lucian Freud.
Nicholson’s abstractly rendered still life “Aegean” (1955) alludes to Greece’s architecture and ancient sites along with pointing to an influence from Dutch painter Piet Mondrian and other emigre artists who, according to Morgan, had a huge impact on the British art scene.
A few examples from Cy Twombly’s “Delian Odes” series - part of which was accidentally destroyed by a group of children at the artist’s hotel room in Mykonos - are suggestive of Twombly’s love for Greece’s culture and mythology.
The pleated texture of Lynda Benglis’ stainless steel and copper sculptures recalls the drapery of the Caryatids’ attire and points to the artist’s studies in fabric.
Food and culture are humorously integrated in Romanian artist’s Daniel Spoerri’s diary “Mythology and Meatballs”, while his inventive “Magie a la Noix” installation comprises objets trouves - stones, animal bones and food leftovers - treated by the artist as archaeological objects.
Just like Manfred Pernice and Juergen Teller, two of the exhibition’s younger artists who adopt an ironic perspective in their work, Martin Kippenberger combines academic-looking works like the models for a transportable underground station and a ventilation shaft with humorous pieces like drawings, posters and models from his so-called MoMAS (Museum of Modern Art Syros) series conceived during his regular visits to the island.
The Greek-born Lucas Samaras, Iannis Xenakis and Jannis Kounellis, who left Greece in their youth but continued to make works linked to its history and culture, are also represented.