Petzel is pleased to present Time Travel: Italian Masters through a Contemporary Lens, on view from November 15th, 2023 through February 10th, 2024, at Petzel’s Upper East Side location, 35 East 67th Street. In partnership with the London-based DYS 44 Lampronti Gallery, Time Travel surveys exemplary works from the 16th to the 19th century, exhibited on the gallery’s parlor floor from November 15th to February 10th. In addition, a selection of works in response from contemporary artists will be on view on the gallery’s third floor from November 15th to December 22nd.
Artworks featured from DYS 44 Lampronti Gallery include those by Master of the Acquavella Still-Life, Cavalier d’Arpino, Carlo Bonavia, Ippolito Caffi, Guido Cagnacci, Canaletto, Annibale Carracci, Bernardo Cavallino, Bartolomeo Cavarozzi, Michelangelo Cerquozzi, Jacopo Fabris, Luca Forte, Fede Galizia, Artemisia Gentileschi, Antiveduto Gramatica, Guercino, Master of Hartford, Gerrit van Honthorst, Antonio Joli, Johann Liss, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Pietro Paolini, Domenico Remps, Jusepe de Ribera, Antonio Maria Vassallo, and Gaspar van Wittel.
Contemporary artworks featured include those by Ross Bleckner, John Currin, Roe Ethridge, Josephine Halvorson, Jutta Koether, Jeff Koons, Lucy McKenzie, Pieter Schoolwerth, Cindy Sherman, Emily Mae Smith, Bob Thompson, and Emma Webster.
In approaching these Italian Master works, the viewer encounters a distinct symbolic vocabulary, setting myth in motion, like a portal to another world. The boundary between real and imaginary space becomes blurred. The open wooden doors of Domenico Remps’ Cabinet of Curiosities tease the onlooker in hallmark trompe l’œil fashion. Grounding real monuments in fantastical landscapes, the ruins of Giovanni Paolo Panini’s capriccio gesture toward an apostolic past, with fragments of Classical sculpture scattered among magisterial columns. Ancient topographies emerge from painted bodies, as in Cavalier d’Arpino’s Fortuna with Two Tritons, in which the curved canyons of the goddess’ back are defined in sloped, tonal gradations. Viewer turns voyeur stumbling upon van Honthorst’s seduction scene, the subjects clothed in rich, chromatic contrast, a game of light and dark against a table set with vanitas.
Beyond virtuosity, beyond moralism, lies a sensual dynamism, a cinematographic drama, which continues to draw audiences to these paintings centuries from their conception. Hollywood-esque in its emotional exuberance, the Baroque brings forth a sense of movement and tension, an oscillation between the sacred and profane, bursting from the canvas’ delicate surface. Through the act of looking, figures, objects and landscapes become so vivid as if to extend into a third dimension, speaking from periods past.
In their response, a group of contemporary artists offer works in dialogue with these predecessors, considering the legacies of their genres and lexicons. Across a variety of means, these artists channel the energetic, grandiose ethos of the Baroque into their painterly compositions, situating these narrative sensibilities in modern contexts. These works both investigate and develop the formal language of the “masters,” providing a forum to map these stylized, highly constructed narratives onto our present moment. Time Travel stages a conversation with the past, one that revitalizes our comprehension of how intellectual conflicts have motivated artists through the ages.