At National Museum of Women in the Arts, Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea

Landmark exhibition explores images of Virgin Mary by renowned Renaissance and Baroque artists.

Appearing throughout the entire world, her image is immediately recognizable. In the history of Western art, she was one of the most popular subjects for centuries. On view Dec. 5, 2014–April 12, 2015, Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea, is a landmark exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), bringing together masterworks from major museums, churches and private collections in Europe and the United States. Iconic and devotional, but also laden with social and political meaning, the image of the Virgin Mary has influenced Western sensibility since the sixth century.

Picturing Mary examines how the image of Mary was portrayed by well-known Renaissance and Baroque artists, including Botticelli, Dürer, Michelangelo, Pontormo, Gentileschi and Sirani. More than 60 paintings, sculptures and textiles are on loan from the Vatican Museums, Musée du Louvre, Galleria degli Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti and other public and private collections—many exhibited for the first time in the United States.

“Among the most important subjects in Western art for more than a millennium was a young woman: Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her name was given to cathedrals, her face imagined by painters and her feelings explored by poets,” said exhibition curator and Marian scholar Monsignor Timothy Verdon, director, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence, Italy. “This exhibition will explore the concept of womanhood as represented by the Virgin Mary, and the power her image has exerted through time, serving both sacred and social functions during the Renaissance and Baroque periods.”

Picturing Mary is the newest project in an ongoing program of major historical loan exhibitions organized by NMWA, including An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Museum (2003) and Royalists to Romantics: Women Artists from the Louvre, Versailles, and other French National Collections (2012). In addition to illustrating the work of women artists, NMWA also presents exhibitions and programs about feminine identity and women’s broader contributions to culture. Picturing Mary extends, in particular, the humanist focus of Divine and Human: Women in Ancient Mexico and Peru, a large-scale exhibition organized by NMWA in 2006.



Art Basel Miami Beach 2014

Art Basel’s 13th edition in Miami Beach closed today, Sunday, December 7, 2014, amidst strong praise from gallerists, private collectors, museum groups and the media. Highlights of the show included the introduction of the new Survey sector, which brought 13 art-historical projects to the fair, including many rare works never before exhibited in an art fair context; and Art Basel’s staging with performa of Ryan McNamara’s ‘MEƎM 4 Miami: A Story Ballet About the Internet’ at the Miami Grand Theater. Solid sales were reported across all levels of the market and throughout the run of the show.

Featuring 267 leading international galleries from 31 countries, the show – whose Lead Partner is UBS – attracted an attendance of 73,000 over five days. Attendees included representatives of over 160 museum and institution groups from across the world – and a surging number of new private collectors from the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Following a 100 percent reapplication rate for the Galleries sector and with new galleries coming from across the world, the list of exhibitors was the strongest to date in Miami Beach, firmly solidifying the show’s position as the leading international art fair of the Americas.

Never to forget: The Monongah Mine Disaster, December 6, 2014

They came to Monongah, West Virginia, from some of the poorest regions of Italy– Abruzzo, Calabria, Campania–to work the coal mines. Like the millions of Italians who migrated to “L’america” in search of a brighter future, most had no idea of the challenges they would face. The promise of a financed voyage and a secure job was an incentive that few could resist. But none, one suspects, could

Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Monongah, WV

have imagined that they would end up working in conditions as inhumane as in those in the mines of Monongah. Yet, they left their homes in Frosolone, Roccamandolfi, Duronia, San Giovanni in Fiore, Castrovillari, Canistro, and dozens of other Italian towns and came in droves to Monongah.

 One hundred and two years ago, on December 6, 1907, an explosion ripped through the Monongah mines, shaking the earth as far as eight miles away, and killing, according to contemporaneous official records, 362 miners. It was, and remains, the worst mining disaster in American history. Officially, 171 Italians died that day. But those figures may underestimate the number of miners working that day; often young boys who assisted their fathers were not always “officially” counted. According to one newspaper story, it is possible that an estimated 956 lives were lost in the explosion.


(Note that this article was written on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Monongah mine disaster)