Etel Adnan, the trailblazing Lebanese abstract painter, has died at age 92. Adnan was born in 1925 in French-speaking Beirut to a Syrian father and a Greek mother. She lived and worked in Paris, studying philosophy at the Sorbonne, Paris, University of California, Berkeley and Harvard. From 1958–72. She also taught philosophy at Dominican University of California, San Rafael, working as a cultural editor for two daily newspapers in Beirut between 1972–76.
Images are not still. They are moving things – Etel Adnan
Her international roots and her studies in philosophy in Paris and the USA led her to a fascination with language. However, it was not until the artist was 36 that she turned to painting as a means of artistic expression, a move that was prompted, in part, by her decision to stop writing in French following the Algerian War in the early 1960s. Adnan’s work explores both the political and personal dimensions of her exile from familiar landscapes and languages.
Adnan works on a table, using a palette knife to apply oil paint onto the canvas – often directly from the tube – in firm swipes across the picture’s surface. These elemental colour field compositions exude intense energy, recalling the block-like slabs of colour in the late French landscapes of Russian painter Nicolas de Staël.
Adnan says, ‘Images are not still. They are moving things. They come, go, disappear, approach, recede, and are not even visual – ultimately, they are pure feeling.’ As a result, her work relates to places with deep resonance for Adnan: the mountains near her home in Sausalito, California, where the artist has lived for some 50 years, or the Mediterranean Sea of her childhood home in Beirut.
As a poet and novelist, Adnan is one of the leading voices in contemporary Arab American literature. Since the 1960s, she has painted, drawn and made accordion-like, fold-out illustrated books, known as Leporello. These practices, both verbal and visual, are underpinned by an intense engagement with the world. Her novel about the Lebanese Civil War, Sitt Marie-Rose, was first published in 1977, winning the France-Pays Arabes Award, and has since been published in more than ten languages.
Her work was recently presented in the Women in Abstraction exhibition currently on at the Guggenheim Bilbao. Her solo exhibition ‘Etel Adnan in All Her Dimensions’ at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar (2014) was well received. She was also included in the Whitney Biennial, New York (2014) and Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2013). In addition, Adnan received numerous awards for her contribution to culture, including, in 2014, France’s highest cultural honour, the Ordre de Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.
An outstanding painting by John Singer Sargent portrait of Arthur Ramsay, the 14th ç, is at risk of leaving the country unless a UK buyer can be found to cough up £7.5m to save the work for the nation.
The Earl of Dalhousie is hugely significant to the study of John Singer Sargent’s impressive legacy. Most widely known for his famous Portrait of Madame X, the international artist – who spent most of his life in Europe and whose resting place is in the UK – had an essential role in the period’s broader art, history, and culture. This piece set the stage for Sargent’s fame on both sides of the Atlantic.
Dating back to 1899, the portrait coincides with the founding of psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud. As a result, The Earl of Dalhousie is considered exceptional for portraying Arthur Ramsay’s character. He provides a fascinating look at aristocratic masculinity, uncertainty, and imperial doubt at the time.
Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: John Singer Sargent was, as the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition of 2015 rightly noted, ‘the greatest portrait painter of his generation. He continues to inspire artists, academics, and audiences to think more deeply about ourselves, our history, and the human condition – with Julian Barnes’s The Man in the Red Coat just one example of the creative impulses he continues to spark.
There is still so much we can learn from this outstanding portrait of the 14th Earl of Dalhousie, painted in the UK during the transition between the 19th and 20th centuries. It would be a massive loss if this piece were to leave the country. I sincerely hope that a UK buyer can be found to save the work for the nation.
The Minister’s decision follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA). The Committee agreed that it is a fascinating picture on many levels and that this was one of Sargent’s most nuanced male portraits.
Committee Member Christopher Baker said: Sargent’s The Earl of Dalhousie evokes a brilliant transitional moment in British portraiture, being late Victorian in date but strikingly modern in appearance. The artist injected a new dynamism into such paintings; he had a profound knowledge of both the grandest traditions of portraiture and recent innovations and combined here a nod to the achievement of Van Dyck (in terms of pose and setting) with energised, bravura brushwork and incisive characterisation. Such skills were to prove irresistible to a generation of British patrons.
Dalhousie was a Scottish aristocrat, and his portrait is one of the finest of all Sargent’s studies of male subjects; an image of hauteur perhaps tinged by uncertainty, it is a coming of age painting, created when the subject turned twenty-one, and, as recent research has shown, it was paid for by his tenants. Outstanding aesthetically and in terms of the study of the art and culture of the period, it would be a profound misfortune if this scintillating work were not secured for a British collection.
The Reviewing Committee recommended that the painting’s departure from the UK would be a misfortune because it was outstanding aesthetic importance. Furthermore, it was of exceptional significance for the study of Sargent’s work and the more comprehensive art, history and culture of the period.
The decision on the export licence application for the painting will be deferred until 3 March 2022. At the end of the first deferral period, owners will have a considerable period of 15 Business Days to consider any offer(s) to purchase the painting at the recommended price of £7,617,360 (plus VAT). The second deferral period will commence following an Option Agreement and will last for six months.
Anish Kapoor To Exhibit At Gallerie dell’Accademia In Venice
Anish Kapoor will be the first British artist to be honoured with a major exhibition at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice during the Venice Biennale next year, opening on 20 April 2022 and running until 9 October 2022.
The exhibition will have retrospective elements alongside newer bodies of work, presenting key moments in the artist’s career. In addition, ground-breaking new works created using carbon nanotechnology will be shown for the first time. Recent paintings and sculptures are a testament to the vitality and visionary nature of Kapoor’s current practice.
As announced today, 12 November 2021, during a press conference held at the museum in the presence of Director Giulio Manieri Elia, the curator of the exhibition, Taco Dibbits and Anish Kapoor, in addition to the main show at the Gallerie dell’ Accademia, a group of important works will also be presented at the historic Palazzo Manfrin, where some of the most famous works in the Gallerie dell’ Accademia’s collection originally hung.
Palazzo Manfrin was purchased in 1788 by Count Girolamo Manfrin, a wealthy tobacco merchant who transformed the first floor of the building into a picture gallery which quickly became one of Venice’s major tourist attractions visited by among others Antonio Canova, Lord Byron, John Ruskin and Edouard Manet.
When, around the middle of the nineteenth century, works in the collection were sold, after the death of Manfrin, the heritage of the Gallerie dell’Accademia was enriched with twenty-one paintings, including masterpieces such as Giorgione’s The Tempest and La Vecchia and works by Mantegna, Memling, Nicolò di Pietro, Girolamo Savoldo and Moretto.
Anish Kapoor said: “It’s a huge honour to be invited to engage with the collections at the Gallerie dell’ Accademia in Venice, perhaps one of the finest collections of classical painting anywhere in the world. All art must engage with what went before. The Accademia presents a beautiful and wondrous challenge. I feel a deep commitment to Venice, its architecture and its support for the contemporary arts.”