Kumu Art Museum press release

Kumu’s blockbuster show this autumn is an exhibition about the famous English landscape painter, John Constable, from the renowned Victoria and Albert Museum in London

This year, the 3rd floor temporary exhibition floor at Kumu introduces the dynamic development of European landscape painting in the second half of the 19th century and early years of the 20th century. The Normandy landscape painters in spring and the Neo-Impressionist display of Mägi and Finch in the summer, will be followed by the autumn exhibition ‘John Constable: From the Collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum’, an exhibition on John Constable, the star of English landscape painting, from the unique collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Press photographs are available at the museum digital collection.

‘This is certainly the main exhibition this autumn, as opportunities to enjoy such high level of English painting in Estonia are very rare,’ emphasised the director of Kumu, Anu Liivak. ‘Constable’s work has been displayed on a larger scale outside Great Britain only in 2002, at the Grand Palais in Paris, in a hugely successful exhibition compiled by the acclaimed contemporary British painter Lucien Freud, the grandson of Sigmund Freud. The current exhibition will travel from Kumu to Germany and the USA,’ she added.

The emphasis of the exhibition is on John Constable’s oil sketches, which art historians value even more than his carefully finished large-format oil paintings. Constable painted village and landscape views of his familiar England straight from nature, trying to capture each unique moment. His dashing and expressive oil sketches superbly convey impressions of nature. With his manner of painting, Constable aspired to the natural and the true, in contrast to the era’s dominant romantic treatment of art, which focused on dramatisation and fantasy. Constable was among the artists whose work introduced landscape painting in the context of the previously dominant portraiture and historical painting. The closeness to nature of his work and his free manner of painting inspired first the French artists of the Barbizon school, and later the Impressionists, who were also keen on direct impressions of nature. John Constable’s work considerably influenced the development of landscape painting and his historical authority is still intact.

In 1802, Constable wrote to his good friend John Dunthorne:
‘For the last two years I have been running after picutres, and seeking the truth at second hand. I have not endeavoured to represent nature with the same elevation of mind with which I set out, but have rather tried to make my performances look like the work of other men. I am come to a determination to make no idle visits this summer, not to give up my time to commonplace people./.../ The great vice of the present day is bravura, an attempt to do something beyond the truth’ (C. R. Leslie. Memoirs of the Life of John Constable, p. 12).

The exhibition John Constable. From the Collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in the B-wing on the third floor of Kumu is open from 24 September until 23 January 2011. A newspaper section will be published to mark the occasion, a supplement in the 9 October daily Eesti Päevaleht.

Various interesting and educational public programmes will take place between November and January. More information at: www.ekm.ee/kumu

NB! Exhibition visitors will have the opportunity to win an exclusive weekend in London, including a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, in our raffle!



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