October 22, 2018

“God, Ivory, and Gold: Vincent van Gogh, Henry van de Velde, and Gustav Klimt at the Cusp of Abstraction”

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Vincent van Gogh, Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle (La Berceuse), 1889. Oil on canvas, 92.7 x 72.7 cm. Photograph © 2018 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Now in its 31st year, the annual Hilla Rebay Lecture series brings distinguished scholars to the Guggenheim Museum to examine significant issues in the theory, criticism, and history of art. This year’s address, “God, Ivory, and Gold: Vincent van Gogh, Henry van de Velde, and Gustav Klimt at the Cusp of Abstraction,” will be delivered by Debora Silverman, Distinguished Professor and University of California Presidential Chair in Modern European History, Art and Culture at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Silverman will discuss experiments in early abstraction by these three masters and the religious and imperialist contexts that shaped them. Van Gogh defined painting as a form of “sacred realism,” embedding divinity in the stuffs of matter, rural and craft labor, and the faces of ordinary people. Van de Velde embraced abstraction during King Leopold II’s Congo Free State (1885–1908), inventing a “whiplash” style of Art Nouveau which employed Congolese raw materials and motifs. Klimt designed a frieze of gold and bejeweled mosaics for the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, a project whose stylistic forms, physical materials, and figural compositions were influenced by the patron’s connections to the Congo and Egypt.

A reception in the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed rotunda follows the program.

Free. Seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis as space allows.
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For Sackler Center for Arts Education supporters, please visit our website.

The annual Hilla Rebay Lecture is made possible by the Hilla von Rebay Foundation.

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