Thinking back on recent blockbuster exhibitions at what we’re now calling Mia, “The Habsburgs” was over-the-top opulent; “Matisse” was warm, sensuous and swimming in color; “Rembrandt in America” was 30 Rembrandts in one place, which is all you really need to say about that.
Opening Sunday, “Delacroix’s Influence: The Rise of Modern Art from Cézanne to Van Gogh,” is dazzling and personal. It’s personal to Mia because this is its 100th birthday year, and James J. Hill, Mia’s principal founder, was the most important collector of Delacroix in North America at the end of the 19th century.
“We have three Delacroixes from the Hill collection in the show, and we also have eleven other paintings by other artists that were related to Delacroix because Hill collected them for that reason,” Patrick Noon said at Thursday’s preview. “We’ve also brought together several paintings that got away from us when the Hill collection was dispersed after his death.”
One of those is the very last painting Delacroix painted before his own death in 1863, “Arabs Skirmishing in the Mountains.”
“Delacroix’s Influence” is personal to Noon, Mia’s chair of paintings and the exhibition’s organizing curator. “This is something I’ve been working on … what did Whistler say about a painting? ‘My entire life’? Not really. [But] it’s been a long project. It’s been gnawing at me for many years, and I’m glad we’re finally able to pull it all together.”
The show is a tremendous labor of love, scholarship and intellect; Noon’s sensibility and deep knowledge of Delacroix are everywhere. So are his words, providing context, background and interesting stories. He wrote all the wall panels (the show is organized into four thematic sections), all the labels (the individual descriptions accompanying the paintings) and much of the exhibition catalog.
Hearing Noon speak about Delacroix’s impact on modern art is a distinct pleasure. Sadly, his opening day lecture at Mia is sold out. Happily, his writing is just as engaging.
The 75 paintings on display in the Target Galleries include 30 by Delacroix and 45 by 20 other artists: Degas, Gauguin, Cézanne, van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Renoir and more. Many are on loan from 45 prestigious public and private collections around the world: the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Uffizi, the Van Gogh Museum, the Met, the National Gallery, the Getty and the Art Institute of Chicago are a few.
Some of the most famous are Delacroix’s “Convulsionists of Tangier” and “Lion Hunt,” Manet’s “Music in the Tuileries Gardens,” Cezanne’s “Standing Nude,” Gauguin’s “Christ in the Garden of Olives” and van Gogh’s “Olive Trees” (the same “Olive Trees” now growing in a field in Eagan).
Noon brought in treasures from all over, but one thing he couldn’t pry loose were the large murals Delacroix painted in places like the Library of the Palais Bourbon, the Gallery of Apollo in the Louvre and the church of Saint Sulpice in Paris. So he and a team went to France and made a 13-minute film that shows constantly in a side gallery.
The exhibition, in a nutshell, explores how the revolutionary painter Delacroix and his wild, ahead-of-his-time ideas about light, form, color and subject matter helped transform French painting and kickstarted modern art.
A simple graphic at the beginning of the exhibition surrounds a self-portrait of Delacroix with the names of artists who were influenced by him, joined by lines.
The first comprehensive presentation of the artist’s legacy in half a century, “Delacroix” is here through Jan. 10, 2016, after which it travels to London. Mia is the only place in the U.S. where you can see it. FMI and tickets ($20). Members enjoy discounts and special access days. Membership is free.
Tonight (Friday, Oct. 16) at the O’Shaughnessy: “Yes, Sir”: An Evening of Solos Danced by Nic Lincoln. A former member of James Sewell Ballet, Lincoln dances solos created for him by Patrick Corbin, Carl Flink, Larry Keigwin, Sewell and Chris Yon, and one he created for himself, to live music by Venus de Mars and Jocelyn Hagen. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($18-$28).
Saturday at the State Fairgrounds: Twin Cities Book Festival. The 20 presenting authors include Christian Bök, Matt Burgess, Susan Cheever, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Faith Sullivan and Joy Williams. Dozens more authors will appear in the Author Hub, the Children’s Pavilion, the Middle Grade Headquarters and the Teen Tent. You can’t possibly see everyone and do everything, so check the schedule and make a plan. Or not. Either way, leave plenty of time for the book fair. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. FMI. Free.
Saturday at Casket Arts: Open Casket. Open studios, guest artists, live music and food trucks. More than 140 artists and art-based businesses inhabit the Casket Arts Community, three former factory buildings in NE Minneapolis. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free.
Sunday at the Ordway Music Theater: Pedrito Martinez Group. A Havana-born master of Afro-Cuban jazz, Martinez has worked with Paquito D’Rivera, Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Sting. He and his group of Cuban, Peruvian and Venezuelan musicians have performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Newport Jazz Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, to name a few. Here’s the video for their song “Conciencia” from their Grammy-nominated debut album. We can’t imagine people will sit still for this. There will be dancing. FMI and tickets ($23-$45).
Monday at Union Depot: Dance Night. Free dance instruction followed by two hours of swing dancing to music by Beasley’s Big Band. In the Waiting Room. 6:15 – 9 p.m. Free. Refreshments available for purchase.
Monday at the James J. Hill House: Hill House Chamber Players. The resident ensemble launches its season with music by Mozart, Guastavino, Granados and Fritz Kreisler. This year’s theme is “Behind the Lines: Music and Composers of World War I.” Kreisler served in the Austrian army before being wounded and honorably discharged. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($22/$12).
Tuesday at the U’s College of Science and Engineering: Robert Cabana: “NASA’s Path Forward and the Transformation of the Kennedy Space Center.” The director of NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center, Hall of Fame astronaut (four shuttle missions) and Minneapolis native, Cabana discusses NASA’s path to Mars and the role the Kennedy Space Center plays in NASA’s future. Mayo Auditorium, 420 Delaware St. SE. 6:30 doors, 7 p.m. lecture. FMI and link to waiting list (this event is at capacity).
Tuesday in Mairs Concert Hall at Macalester: Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) and Yayoi Ikawa: “Redemption Songs & Sonatas.” A classically trained composer, violinist and composer, DBR has collaborated with Philip Glass, Cassandra Wilson, Savion Glover and Lady Gaga. He often brings hip-hop, funk, and rock to his music. A new work rooted in a worldview of civil rights for all, “Redemption Songs & Sonatas” celebrates what would have been Bob Marley’s 70th birthday. Ikawa is a classically trained pianist who has broadened her scope to include many kinds of music and composing for film. In the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, 1600 Grand Ave. Doors at 7 p.m., music at 7:30. Free and open to the public. Part of Macalester’s New Music Series.