ikono invites directors, head of departments, or curators of internationally renowned artistic institutions to exhibit a curated selection of artworks from their permanent collections.

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ikono is very proud to present you one gem among the rich cultural treasures of the eternal city Rome: the Trajan’s Markets, which today are hosting the Museum of the Imperial Fora.

 

Trajan’s Markets, located near the Imperial Fora, are a complex of buildings and ruins going back to the early II century AD. The Imperial Fora were erected in the heart of the ancient city over a period of 150 years spanning Caesar’s rule to Trajan (the Forum of Caesar, 46 BC; the Forum of Augustus, 2 BC; the Temple of Peace, 75 AD; the Forum of Nerva, 98 AD; and the Forum of Trajan, 112 AD). The Trajan’s Market preserves many traces of its past lives as a medieval fortress, with the still standing Torre delle Milizie, a seventeenth-century convent and a barrack, which was discovered in the 1930s during the Mussolini era.

Trajan’s Markets were not a trade centre, as its modern name seems to indicate. In fact, the various rooms were used for activities supporting the administrative and judicial work that took place in the Imperial Fora, and were believed to have been used as offices and archives.

The site is a masterpiece of Roman engineering: Entirely built in bricks and divided by public roads, the structure is perfectly adapted to the natural environment. It rises six levels from the Forum, all levels are connected by steep stairs. The ceilings are diverse in form and culminate in the Great Hall, made up of six cross vaults. The windows in the facade of the Grand Hemicycle are framed with uniquely shaped architectural bricks.

Today, the upper part of the monument houses the Museum of the Imperial Forums, which exhibits the architecture and sculptural decoration of the site. The Imperial Fora were an extraordinary set of monumental squares, porticoes and temples. The Forum’s marble architecture is today partly reconstructed thanks to the discovery of original fragments, with casts and modular additions in stone.

Accessing the museum, the visitor enters the central space of the Great Hall, and is welcomed by a reconstruction of the attic of the porticoes of the Forum of Augustus. The space is decorated with caryatids (female sculpted figures functioning as an architectural support) and clipei (shields) carrying the image of bearded deities. The rooms looking into the central space on the ground floor of the museum accommodate the museum’s duty rooms (hosting ticket office, library and cloakroom) and the section introducing the Imperial Fora, which presents each of the Fora’s five main parts by a significant piece. These include the head of Constantine, the imperial statue in military armor from Trajan’s Forum, the frieze with Cupids originating from the Forum of Caesar, and the fragment of a gilt bronze foot from a statue depicting Victory from the Forum of Augustus. The last two rooms of the lower floor are devoted to the vestiges of the Forum of Nerva, hosting a bas-relief depicting a Province, as well as the Temple of Peace, which presents a huge porphyry basin and a small bronze portrait of Chrysippus.

The upper floor of the Great Hall hosts the section of the Forum of Caesar, where visitors can admire panels with Cupids and vine branches deriving from the rich decoration of the temple of Venus Genetrix, which has been reconstructed within the Trajan period.

On the opposite side, a section is dedicated to the Memory of Antiquity. Here, the plastic model of the Forum and vestiges of the Temple of Mars Ultor from the Forum of Augustus, including the stunning capital with Pegasi (winged horses), can be found. Copies of architectural and scholarly drawings from the Italian Renaissance accompany them.

Continuing on to the Central Block, fragments of the colossal statue of Augustus guide the visitor through the section of the Forum of Augustus. Here, one of the niches has been reconstructed with sculptures of Summi Viri (renowned men).

The museum is not yet complete with the section of the Forum of Trajan due to be re-opened, and set up upon completion of its restoration. Similarly, the North and the South Room at the ends of the Great Hemicycle will be directly connected to the ancient remains of the complex.

 

Text by Museum of the Imperial Fora inside the Trajan’s Markets. For more information please visit the museum’s rich website.

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This June, in occasion of the opening of the Venice Biennale, ikono focuses on four of the major and most charming Venetian Museums: the National Archaeological Museum, the Accademia Galleries, the Oriental Art Museum and the Ca’ d’Oro Gallery.

Together with the Palazzo Grimani Gallery, the four museums belong to the Polo Museale Veneziano, an organic complex of buildings and collections of enormous artistic and historical value, definitely one of the most important in Europe.

The National Archaeological Museum of Venice was founded in the 16th century and thanks to the vision of two patrician Venetian collectors, Domenico and Giovanni Grimani, offers to its visitors a particularly valuable collection of Greek and Roman antiquities. The director Michela Sediari curated a special selection of art pieces that best represent this amazing collection.

The Accademia Galleries are located in the prestigious building of the Scuola Grande of Santa Maria della Carità. The church of Santa Maria and the monastery of the Canonici Lateranensi, built by Andrea Palladio in 1561, are also part of the Accademia. The largest collection of Venetian art paintings from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century is on display at the museum. Masterpieces by Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Carpaccio, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Bellotto, Guardi, together with artworks donated by prestigious collectors like Molin and Cantarini, and an amazing set of drawings, which include studies from Leonardo da Vinci and his circle, complete the incredibly valuable collection. This month, ikono presents a selection of artworks curated by Matteo Cerian, the director of the complex.

The Oriental Art Museum faces the Grand Canal and is located in the ancient palace owned by the Pesaro family and designed by Baldassare Longhena. The Museum showcases one of the most important collections of Japanese art of the Edo period. Prince Henry II of Borbone bought the collection during his travel to Asia, between 1887 and 1889. More than 30.000 objects, among which swords and daggers, Japanese armours, delicate enamel objects and precious porcelains, can be found in the stupendous museum’s sections. The collection is known in Europe as being one of the most important for Japanese art from the Edo period (1600-1868), but it also includes masterpieces from other parts of Asia, especially China and Indonesia. Fiorella Spadavecchia, director of the museum, selected splendid artworks and manufactures, which best represent the variety of objects and can be admired at the Oriental Art Museum.

The Ca’ d’Oro Gallery is located in one of the most beautiful late-gothic buildings in Venice and hosts Baron Giorgio Franchetti’s impressive art collection. Around 1916, the Baron bestowed the grand palace to the City of Venice to use it as a public art museum. The palace, also the representative home of the rich merchant Marino Contarini, and built between 1421 and 1440, was subjected to many transformations throughout the years. In 1927, the Gallery was opened and received many art pieces from other museums like the Accademia Galleries and the Archeological Museum, but also from the Italian State Property. The most important art pieces are Flemish tapestries, sculptures, Venetian, Tuscan and Flemish paintings, wooden furniture, Renaissance sculptures and bronzes, coins, medals and the sorrowful image of the Saint Sebastian by Andrea Mantegna. The current installation was firstly made between the 70s and 80s and, since 1992, there is also a new space dedicated to Venetian ceramics situated in the neighbouring building of Palazzo Duodo. The courtyard is truly beautiful, with floor mosaics in opus sectile made by Giorgio Franchetti himself and inspired by Paleochristian churches. The artist’s ashes are buried under a red porfido column. Claudia Cremonini, the director of the gallery, presents a mix of sculptures and paintings, drawing attention to the diversity and richness of the Ca’ D’Oro collection.

For the next two months, ikono will shine a spotlight on the best artworks showcased in the museums of the Polo Museale Veneziano, inviting everyone to take a closer look at its stunning buildings and collections.

 

Please visit the museums’ websites for further information:

National Archaeological Museum

Accademia Galleries

Oriental Art Museum

Ca’ D’Oro Gallery

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Being accomodated within a gem of the European Baroque architecture, the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna owns a unique collection of Austrian and European art from medieval times until today. Masterpieces from the Late Gothic Michael Pacher (around 1435 – 1498) to romanticists such as Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), from Franz Xaver Messerschmidt’s (1736-1783) grotesque Character Heads (after 1770) to the light-flooded landscapes of Claude Monet (1840-1926) are presented within the impressive architecture of the Belvedere’s palaces, the Upper and Lower Belvedere. Built in the early 18th century by Johann Lucas Hildebrandt, one of the most significant Baroque architects, and surrounded by a representative garden, the palaces have been serving as the summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), in due course an important general and influential patron for the arts.

To pay tribute to the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere as one of the most important Museums of the World, ikono dedicates two productions to a milestone of the Belvedere’s collection: As main representative of the Viennese Modern Age, Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) had an inimitable influence on the art of the Austrian fin de siècle. The Belvedere owns the major part of Klimt’s Oeuvre, which doubtlessly finds its highlights in his most famous paintings, Kiss and Judith, to be presented by ikono during the upcoming weeks.

Please find below the Belvedere’s detailed introduction into Klimt’s masterpieces:

 

Gustav Klimt: Judith (1901)

The title Judith for this portrait of a young, seductive beauty – adorned with golden jewellery, her breast half exposed – has nothing in common with the traditional image of the heroine from the Old Testament. In the 19th century the image of Judith as the chaste woman, serving her people, was transformed into a man-eating, self-gratifying, and emancipated symbolic figure. Gustav Klimt is clearly adhering to this interpretation and showing that he is familiar with the current discussion about the new role of woman and the relationship between the sexes. It therefore comes as no surprise that even contemporary critics called this painting ‘Salome’ as well, and that the head of Holofernes is like the face of a saint. In this context, the gold background adds a touch of confusion, as in both Gothic painting and in Ancient Egyptian civilization this was regarded as the epitome of the divine. Here Klimt seems to be paying tribute to a new religion – to Eros. This can be read from the encoded decoration, which can be interpreted in different ways. The apples, for example, suspended from the background trees that look like five fingers, recall the traditional symbol of temptation, and the abstract scales call to mind the snake in paradise.

Yet ultimately it is the painting, dissolved into small brushstrokes, seen in combination with the beguiling gleam of the gold that conveys the seductive sensuality of the woman. This would still be the case even without all the decoration and its potential symbolism.

 

Gustav Klimt: Kiss (1908)

The Kiss, probably the most popular work by Gustav Klimt, was first exhibited in 1908 at the Kunstschau art exhibition on the site of today’s Konzerthaus in Vienna. The Ministry bought it from there for the sum of 25,000 Kronen, and thus secured for the state one of the icons of Viennese Jugendstil and indeed of European modern art.

It undoubtedly represents the culmination of the phase known as the ‘Golden Epoch’. In this decade, the artist created a puzzling, ornamental encoded programme that revolved around the mystery of existence, love and fulfilment through art. Klimt gained initial inspiration for this in 1903 on a journey to Ravenna to see the Byzantine mosaics. In addition, the painting contains a myriad of motifs from various cultural epochs, above all from Ancient Egyptian mythology. Most recent research has, however, revealed that it is not enough to read the ornaments in the picture just as symbols rooted in tradition aiming to convey a timelessly valid message. They reveal more, such as references to Klimt’s love for Emilie Flöge and the artist’s exploration of the sculptor Auguste Rodin’s art.

The couple is on a base formed by a narrow strip of a flowery meadow set against an abyss suffused with golden dust. The woman in a magnificent floral dress is being tenderly embraced by the man, whose body is entirely concealed by a golden robe. In blissful rapture she turns her head towards the viewer; their hands touch with sensual tenderness.

The gold of the background is primarily interpreted as an ancient symbol of the divine or the sun, that becomes united with the flowery meadow, symbol of the earth. The rectangles on the robe are synonymous with the male principle; the oval-shaped flowers with the female. On the other hand, comparison with the Stoclet Frieze (pron: Stoclettfries) of the same time, could suggest that the glittering gold background represents a metaphysically exalted idea of Lake Attersee and the narrow meadow the lake shore. Based on this location, the couple must be Gustav Klimt and Emilie Flöge.

One source of confusion is the kneeling pose of the woman and the fact that her face turns away from the kiss. Does this show a love that was never fulfilled and never expressly declared between the couple? Or does this show the ambivalence between submission and rejection between the sexes? Love as the cosmic law for the life-giving union between man and woman or the document of a love that perhaps experienced its most wondrous time at Lake Attersee?

Doha Museum of Islamic Art

This month’s featured Museum of the World is the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Quatar, a unique collection of manuscripts, metalwork, ceramics, jewellery, woodwork, textiles and glass preserved in the Emirate’s capital. The wide selection of rare objects is displayed in a fascinating building designed by the Chinese American architect I. M. Pei in 2008, whose inspiration derived from ancient Muslim construction principles.

ikono’s curatorial team is excited to present you three productions highlighting the best pieces of the museum’s permanent collection, and offering you a glimpse into one of the world’s most exhaustive patrimonies of Islamic art from Spain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, India, and Central Asia, dating from the 7th to the 19th century.

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ikono works with directors or department heads from internationally renowned art institutions to feature curated selections of works from their permanent collections or exhibitions.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC is a world-class art museum that displays one of the largest collections of masterpieces in the world including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 13th century to the present. The National Gallery of Art collection holds an extensive survey of works of American, British, Italian, Flemish, Spanish, Dutch, French and German art, with works of art by famous artists such as Titian, Raphael, da Vinci, Monet, Rubens, van Dyck, Rembrandt and Rodin.

The National Gallery of Art was created in 1937 for the people of the United States of America by a joint resolution of Congress, accepting the gift of financier and art collector Andrew W. Mellon.

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ikono works with directors or department heads from internationally renowned art institutions to feature curated selections of works from their permanent collections or exhibitions.

Neues Museum
 This key work in the history of art, the museum, and technology in the 19th century was designed by the architect Friedrich August Stüler. After being badly damaged in the Second World War, the building has been elaborately restored 
and recreated under the direction of the British star architect David Chipperfield. The building is now the new home of the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, and many artifacts from the Collection of Classical Antiquities.