BARCELONA, SPAIN.-CaixaForum presents L'Art Nouveau. The Legacy of Siegfried Bing, on view through January 29, 2006. Bing started as a collector of Chinese and Japanese art. He played a key role as a promoter of Asian art, which was to have an enormous influence on many nineteenth-century artists, including Vincent van Gogh. In fact it was from Bing that Van Gogh bought the many Japanese prints he owned. The presentation reveals how significant the influence of Japanese art was on the development of Art Nouveau, featuring beautiful examples of kimonos, fans and masks as well as ceramics and prints.
One of the highlights of the show is a reconstruction of the Art Nouveau pavilion Bing presented at the Paris World Exposition of 1900. In an attempt to create a Gesamtkunstwerk Bing brought together three promising although relatively unknown designers: Georges de Feure, Edward Colonna and Eugène Gaillard. Striking examples of their remarkably elegant designs are presented in the Van Gogh Museum in period rooms. Screens, sofas, showcases and a complete bedroom interior, together with porcelain, glass and textile provide an authentic idea of what the pavilion must have looked like.
With his progressive notion of making decorative furniture in a recognisably French style, Bing managed to bridge the gap between the ostensibly elitist visual arts and the somewhat denigrated decorative arts, thereby enabling ordinary people to have beautiful, aesthetic furniture in their homes. When he died, in 1905, his company, which had set the benchmark for design in the twentieth century, came to an abrupt halt.
L'Art Nouveau: The Bing empire is organised in collaboration with the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris. The show is compiled by Prof. Gabriel P. Weisberg (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis), an expert on Art Nouveau and European art at the end of the nineteenth century, Edwin Becker of the Van Gogh Museum and Evelyne Possémé of the Musée des Arts décoratifs. The exhibition can be seen in the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich from 17 March to 31 July 2005, in the Caixa Forum in Barcelona from 6 September 2005 to 29 January 2006 and in Paris from March to July 2006.
Van Gogh buys at Bing's
Vincent van Gogh developed a fascination for Japanese prints while in Paris (1886-88) and bought hundreds of woodcuts from art dealer Siegfried Bing. A selection from Vincent and his brother Theo's collection of around 500 prints, now in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum, is presented in the print room of the exhibition wing parallel to the major Bing exhibition. The presentation also includes works by Van Gogh that were influenced by Japanese examples.