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Kazakhstan: Men, Animals And Gods Of The Steppe

The emblematic venue of «Asia in Paris», the Musée Guimet welcomes for the first time in France an introductory exhibition to the history and patrimony of Kazakhstan, a country of the Far-East, of the steppes and nomadic horsemen. This unique event, organized in close collaboration with the officials of Almaty Central Museum and French researchers, and thanks to the patronage of Total, Areva and Astrium, presents pieces that are exclusively from the Kazakh culture, assembled over a century by famous archaeologists, of whom many were Russian and some French, such as François-Joseph Castagné (1875-1958).

The heritage of Alexander the Great
Located between Russia and China, and inhabited for thousands of years, Kazakhstan finds itself today on a territory that hosted Antique civilizations. The Kazakh people, descendants of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, and in spite of the covetousness to dominate the riches and the bitterly disputed territories, were able to maintain their deep character. This people of horsemen is steeped in traditions based on a clan structure and reflects ancient nomadic traditions linked to ethnic, historic, economic and climatic conditions. The Kazakhs have been able to adapt their life style to their traditional practices that characterize a culture, a religion and an art of living.

Between archaeology and ethnography
The exhibition presented at Musée Guimet brings this country to our encounter through an approach that combines archaeology and ethnography. These two poles illustrate a «nomadic» truth, at the heart of a dialogue that invites the visitor to explore various itineraries, on the footsteps of these magnificent horsemen from the Asian steppes. As they form one single body with their inseparable companions, the horse, king of the steppes (ridden by certain shepherds), the camel, symbol of every displacement of the camp, and the eagle, the emblem of the country represented under a rising sun, the Kazakhs live in harmony with Nature. They are proud of their mountains and of their animals – from the snow leopard to the falcon, the hunter’s helper – and the Kazakhs’ attachment to the earth is magnified in an art form that draws its motives from the fauna of the steppes and the mountains, as well as in the attributes of the shaman, or even in the organiz ation of life under the family yurt.

Sharing with the spirit of the steppe

Built around the rites of nomad people, the exhibition offers a very colorful show as much as an initiatory itinerary. Objects that are witnesses of the wealth of the Kazakh funeral rites dialogue with silver and gold objects on the decorative level, and refer to the landscapes and men who seek to be in communion with the spirit of the steppe to better capture it. The exhibition presents side-by-side archaeological pieces, photographs and objects of every day life – in a very contemporary staging – and helps us understand and share the life of the nomadic horsemen. The itinerary we follow helps us picture a society that evolves in wide, open spaces and groups together in small ephemeral and mobile units. It also presents the continuity between the older Kazakhstan and the contemporary country, placing the Asian steppes at the heart of the «Asian question».

Friday, November 19, 2010 15:37 CDT post by support | Permalink | Comments (0)    

Lawrence, The Prince Of Portrait Artists

LONDON – His glory was definitely founded when the Regent asked him, after Waterloo, to set Napoleon’s winners for posterity. But Thomas Lawrence was already the darling of London circles where he had succeeded Joshua Reynolds as an exceptional portrait artist. The exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, the first in 30 years to present such a wide range of works, shows the artist’s talent in his youth in the field of pastels and then the ceremonial works and those of his maturity in oil painting. This group of works from museums and private collections allows fruitful juxtapositions such as the one about Isabella Wolff, his favourite sitter that we admire both in a drawing from the Ashmolean Museum and in a painting from the Art Institute in Chicago.
• Thomas Lawrence, Regency Power and Brilliance at the National Portrait Gallery, from 21 October 2010 to 23 January 2011. The exhibition will be presented at the Yale Center for British Art (United-States) from 24 February to 5 June 2011.

Thursday, November 4, 2010 11:53 CDT post by support | Permalink | Comments (0)    

Welcome To The Slaughter House

So much has changed in the design and concept of museums in just a few years! The palaces with marble staircases (the Prado or the Uffizi), the interiors of workshops (in Montparnasse or Chelsea) have seen converted industrial areas rise as a new category of venues. It is the fault of the changes in the productive system. What can be done with these factories, warehouses and silos which have become useless with the change of society towards the tertiary sector? In Rome, ten years ago, during their renovation, the museums of the Capitol had set up in an electric power statio n which visitors emotionally remember. The Tate Modern has definitely ennobled this type of transformation. For some time now the popularity of slaughter houses has been growing. We are all aware of the success of the conversion experienced in Toulouse (the Abattoirs), currently in Rome (il Mattatoio) or in New York (in the Meatpacking District). But the most impressive example has been the one of Madrid, where the Matadero has a huge space – 148 000 m2 of steel and brick. It is currently at the heart of an ambitious revitalization program of full districts, including the creation of artificial beaches along the Manzanares, a library with unheard of dimensions, an archive movie theater, artist dwellings, etc. This is a real laboratory of architecture and contemporary creation, which neighbors a utopia, the one of the artistic phalanstery …

Thursday, November 4, 2010 11:50 CDT post by support | Permalink | Comments (0)    

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