A Unique Exhibit, 'R.I.P.: On Art and Mourning,' Sheds Light On Dark Times

Published : Thursday, September 7, 2017 | 6:37 PM

Maurice Denis (French, 1870–1943), The Entombment, 1893, Tempera on paper, mounted on canvas, Norton Simon Art Foundation, © Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum is opening a presentation of seldom-seen works of art from a collection that expounds on the theme of mourning across different cultures through the centuries.

Opening on Friday, September 8, the exhibition, “RIP: On Art and Mourning,” spans millennia, from a 3,000-year-old Egyptian coffin to a 1960s silkscreen by Andy Warhol.

The Museum says the works on view demonstrate how artists create objects to honor a life, find meaning in tragedy and comfort the living. They portray funereal customs and methods of mourning that vary from one region to another and reflect on different beliefs in the afterlife.

“What does not vary, however, is the raw emotion that accompanies loss, and the need to find solace through friends, natural beauty and art,” the Norton Simon Museum news release says.

“RIP: On Art and Mourning” includes a range of objects that explore how artists respond to death.

Among the works is a highly decorated Egyptian coffin from c. 1100–500 BCE. A rare example of Egyptian art in the Simon collection, the coffin is decorated with hieroglyphic writing that identifies the deceased as a chantress named Tarutu, who sang in the Temple of Amun, in Tekhneh, modern-day Akoris in Upper Egypt, on the east bank of the Nile.

Two other examples from the Classical world are an ancient Attic grave stele commemorating a young mother named Philokydis (c. 360–350 BCE), and an encaustic portrait of a young unnamed man, painted in Egypt in the Greco-Roman style (second century CE).

Later works include Horace Vernet’s poignant oil on canvas “Soldier in the Field of Battle (1818)” and Goya’s haunting “Beds of Death (1863)” from the print series “Disasters of War.”

These powerful works of art take viewers beyond personal suffering to world-weary scenes of war, plague and political confrontation. Eugène Atget’s photograph “Funeral” (1910, printed in 1956 by Bernice Abbott from Atget’s negative) captures a decorated funeral coach with horses sitting patiently in full sun in front of the Church of Saint-Sulpice.

Andy Warhol’s “Jacqueline Kennedy II (Jackie II) (1966)” evokes the grief of the nation in 1963, depicting the First Lady at the funeral of her assassinated husband. A serene death mask of the Jewish-Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani, who died of tubercular meningitis at age 35, was lovingly cast by his heartbroken friend Jacques Lipchitz (1920).

“RIP: On Art and Mourning” brings this disparate group of artworks together to remind visitors about the essential role of art in times of grief. It is organized by Carol Togneri, chief curator at the Norton Simon Museum.

The exhibit runs until November 27 in the small exhibition gallery on the Museum’s main level.

On Saturday, September 16, an educator talks about the exhibit in a tour from 1 to 2 p.m. This will be limited to 25 participants. Make sure you sign up at the Information Desk no later than 15 minutes before the tour. The tour is free with admission.

For more information, call (626) 449-6840 or visit www.nortonsimon.org/events/2017/summer-2017/rip-on-art-and-mourning.

The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 W. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena.

 

 

 

 

 

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