Thursday, 11 November 2010

Sensuality & Voluptuousness in Cassel

Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Jupiter and Antiope
Museum voor Schoonen Kunsten, Ghent
Sensualité et Volupté
The female body in 16th and 17th century Flemish painting
Museum of Flanders, Cassel, France
23rd October 2010 to 23rd January 2011

On 23rd October 2010 the Museum of Flanders in Cassel, Northern France re-opened after a 13 year closure. Revealing the glories of Flemish art - and the anomalies of the Flemish character - it's full of little-known treasures.

The first exhibition, Sensuality and Voluptuousness, takes as its inspiration the female body in 16th and 17th century Flemish painting. Major European and international  museums plus private collectors have lent works of art. A wonderful opening for this most fascinating of museums.

Hendrick van Balen (1575-1632), The Judgement of Paris
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
The exhibition is organised around three thematic areas: Exaltation of the Flesh, Temptations and Carnal Pleasures. Exaltation of the flesh shows the diversity of representations of the female body. Between the mysterious Head of a Woman by Frans Floris from  Berlin and Lasciviousness by Abraham Janssens from  Brussels, aesthetic values diverge and sensuality is expressed differently.

The space devoted to Temptations reveals how the representation of the female nude in Flemish painting is a pretext to attract men's desire to the body of the woman, whose nudity represents consummate beauty, subject of all temptation. This is particularly the case with The Temptation of St. Anthony by Jan Wellens de Cock from the Thyssen Museum in Madrid or Jupiter and Antiope by Anthony van Dyck from the Fine Arts Museum in Ghent.

With paintings by Hendrick van Balen and Hendrick de Clerck, the last part, Carnal pleasures, suggests the enchantment generated by the pleasures of love in mythological and banquet scenes. The bathing scenes, seldom found in Flemish painting, allow for greater freedom of expression, while the more intimate subjects are an insidious way of insisting on the erotic dimension embodied by woman, master of man's desires.

For this inaugural exhibition, major European and international museums but also private collectors have consented to loan works, making an outstanding contribution to the quality of this exhibition. Some unexhibited works are here displayed for the first time.

Sensualité et Volupté, official museum exhibition page
Thirty masterpieces from the Museum of Flanders permanent collection

Preview of the re-opening of the Museum of Flanders:

From Van Eyck to Duerer
Exhibition at the Groeninge Museum, Bruges
to 30th January 2011

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