CLEVELAND, OH.- The Cleveland Museum of Art
today announced the acquisitions approved by the Collections Committee of the museums Board of Trustees at its September meeting. Of the works added to the collection by gift or purchase, the following are among the most noteworthy:
Julius Caesar, one of only 12 autographed imperial figure reliefs known to have been created by Mino da Fiesole
Mino da Fiesole (Italian, c. 14291484), one of the few great Italian sculptors of monumental objects working in the years between Donatello and Michelangelo, made tomb sculptures, portrait busts and refined reliefs for many of the eras key patrons in Rome and Florence.
Julius Caesar (c. 145560, marble with traces of bole and gilding, mounted with mortar into limestone with traces of polychromy) belongs to the tradition of imperial subjects and portrait reliefs characteristic of Renaissance art and reveals the humanist preoccupation with Classical antiquity. Mino depicts Caesar as a political rather than a military leader, worn by the burdens of office, with signs of aging clearly described. Only 12 autograph reliefs of imperial figures by Mino have been identified. They vary considerably in scale, depth of carving, relationship of figure and ground, and psychological tone, indicating that the reliefs were not a series but a field of experimentation to which the artist returned across his career. This marble work is in unusually good condition and the quality of the carving is remarkable. Most of the artists imperial reliefs are damaged and have been cut down or rebuilt from fragments.
The relief rests inside a large, worn limestone block with rough hatchmarks, suggesting it was originally set into a wall. The limestone garland of fruit, grain, nuts, leaves and flowers surrounding the relief requires further study. While not by Mino s hand (he often worked with decorative carvers on larger commissions), it will be kept with the relief while further research helps determine the identity of the artist or studio.
Julius Caesar addresses a significant gap in the museums collection of 15th-century Florentine sculpture, which is almost exclusively composed of religious subjects and small-scale objects. The work also makes key connections to the museums Italian Renaissance medals and plaquettes as well as to one of the CMA s great sculptures, Madonna and Child by Mino da Fiesole.
Codex Artaud XXI from the signature body of work of Nancy Spero, a leading feminist artist
The Codex Artaud by Nancy Spero (American, b. 1926) is a series of drawings uniting texts by Antoine Artaud, the French actor, playwright, and poet of highly allusive writings, with Speros decidedly personal imagery. The codex, 34 scrolls made of sheets of paper pasted end to end, centers on Speros creation of a specifically female pictorial language; the series is now considered the artists signature work.
Codex Artaud XXI (1972, cut and pasted papers, printed text, watercolor, metallic paint, pen, and stamped ink) presents an extract from Atrauds writings using a pristine array of typed capital letters. Speros graphic additions include two converging cross-hatched triangles, a tiny woman riding a rat, and a heroic male nude holding a sword. The male figure, which occupies the bottom of the sheeta place to which woman has traditionally been consignedreferences Benvenuto Cellinis sculpture Perseus Beheading Medusa (154554), a quintessential Renaissance subject concerned with the silencing of a powerful woman.
Spero holds an important place in the feminist art movement of the 1960s and 1970s. She was a member of Women Artists in Revolution (WAR, a splinter group of the male-dominated Art Workers Coalition) and co-founded Artists in Residence ( AIR , the first womens cooperative gallery). Both organizations addressed the exclusion and alienation experienced by most women artists in the aftermath of Abstract Expressionism and the engagement of younger male artists in the iconography of popular culture and mass media imagery. The drawing is a significant work of art by an important first-generation feminist.
Raymond Jonsons Rock at Sea, a superb example of early American modernist painting
Rock at Sea (192022, oil on canvas) is a striking, stylistically rich example of early American modernism by the little known painter, Raymond Jonson (American, 18911982). Practicing his craft first in Chicago and then in Albuquerque, Jonson is best known for co-founding the Transcendental Painting Group, a consortium based in New Mexico and California that constituted a West Coast correlative to the Abstract American Artists organization in New York.
Rock at Sea exhibits a number of diverse influences that, combined, give Jonsons painting a unique character. The paintings visionary rendering of nature embodies the artists long-standing interest in communicating mystical concepts through art. Also apparent are a variety of visual cues adopted from Jonsons avant-garde stage designs, as well as those by the Russian scenic designer and painter Nicholas Roerich, whom Jonson regarded as a kindred spirit.
Dominating the center of the composition of Rock at Sea is a large stony mass rendered in cobalt blue and violet hues; smaller and darker outcroppings occupy in the foreground. Dramatic spumes of white and lavender surf erupt and cascade around these forms. The scene is illuminated by an unseen sun, which casts a chartreuse glow across a sky filled with dark blue and emerald green clouds at right. Dating to early in Jonsons career, this work is apparently his first painting to exhibit the radically reductive and decorative tendencies seen in avant-garde scenic design.