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VMFA acquires key work by German expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

In September 2020, a private collector in Germany made the fair and just decision to restitute Kirchner’s painting to the Fischer family descendants who have donated it to VMFA through a gift-purchase arrangement.

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced this week that it has acquired a major work by German artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The oil painting, completed in 1916, is entitled Taunus Road (German: Autostrasse im Taunus). In September 2020, a private collector in Germany made the fair and just decision to restitute Kirchner’s painting to the Fischer family descendants who have donated it to VMFA through a gift-purchase arrangement.

“We are pleased that this painting, Taunus Road, was returned to the Fischer family and that it joins other paintings by Kirchner in the Ludwig and Rosy Fischer Collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “The donation of this painting is the realization of a long-term commitment on behalf of both the Fischer family and VMFA to reunite restituted works from the Fischer Collection.”

In 2016 Kirchner’s painting Sand Hills at Grünau was restituted by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York to the descendants of Max Fischer as the result of a related Nazi era restitution case and acquired by VMFA through a similar gift-purchase arrangement. After this painting was returned to the family, they made clear their commitment to not only reunite it with the Ludwig and Rosy Fischer Collection at VMFA but also any future works from Max’s portion of the family collection that were restituted to the family.

“Having grown up in a home surrounded by these vivid works of art, it was a natural decision to send any restituted works to VMFA, to rejoin the Ludwig and Rosy Fischer Collection at the museum,” Eva Marx said. “By reuniting this work with the rest of the collection, we honor our grandparents’ vision and our parents’ dedication to sharing these works with the public.”

Ludwig and Rosy Fischer were forward thinking art collectors in Frankfurt, Germany, who between 1905 and 1925 built one of the most impressive collections of German Expressionist art of the time, with a special emphasis on the artists of the Die Brücke movement. Their sons, Ernst and Max, inherited the collection of approximately 500 works in 1926. After the Nazis gained power in Germany, Ernst left the country in 1934 and eventually settled in Richmond, Virginia, with his half of the collection. When Max left the following year, he was able to take only a few works out of Germany, and the remainder were presumed lost or stolen. Taunus Road is the second painting that has been recovered from the lost portion of Max’s half of the collection and returned to the Fischer descendants.

“Adding this work to the Ludwig and Rosy Fischer Collection helps us to tell a fuller story of the ways in which Hitler’s rise to power impacted the Fischer family and their collection. Displaying Taunus Road alongside Sand Hills in the German Expressionist Gallery adds significantly to our understanding of Ludwig and Rosy Fischers’ vision as important early collectors of Kirchner’s work in particular,” said Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, VMFA’s Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “It is the enormous privilege of the museum to continue to work with the Fischer family as we steward this phenomenal collection of German art and share it with our public,” added Dr. Michael Taylor, VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education.

Kirchner was a leader and founding member of the Die Brücke group, formed in 1905. These artists looked at the rampant industrialization of the early 20th century with both fascination and despair. Responding to the changing world around them, they created art characterized by loose, gestural brushstrokes and vivid palettes of bold, saturated colors. While many of the Die Brücke artists depicted urban scenes, they also escaped their city studios to paint rural landscapes as antidotes to the pressures and anxieties of modern life. Landscapes were a central theme throughout Kirchner’s work.

Taunus Road provides a strong example of Kirchner’s vibrant landscapes produced between 1915 and 1918, a period scholars have described as Kirchner’s “crisis” years. He painted the scene in the midst of World War I, during his stay at the sanatorium in Königstein im Taunus, a community in the Taunus mountains north of Frankfurt where, after granted leave from the military, he received treatment following a nervous breakdown. Paint is applied in thin, loose layers to the canvas, producing a quickly executed, dynamic work. The curving trees on the left side and three purple clouds at the top of the composition frame the coral-colored highway. The division created by the roadway produces a tension between the idea of unadulterated nature and the incursion of humans into the landscape.

Taunus Road is currently on view in the German Expressionist Gallery at VMFA.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Friday Cheers Announces 2021 Concert Series

Each event in May and June features socially-distanced outdoor concerts with physically-spaced two, four and eight-person pods. Tickets must be purchased in advance, with no on-site ticket purchase available.

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Friday Cheers, presented by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, returns May 7 for its 36th season of live music. Richmond’s longest running outdoor concert series is held on Brown’s Island on downtown’s historic and picturesque riverfront.

Each event in May and June features socially-distanced outdoor concerts with physically-spaced two, four and eight-person pods. Tickets must be purchased in advance, with no on-site ticket purchase available.

This year Cheers is celebrating all things local! Local bands, local food and local beer! Produced by Venture Richmond Events, this season’s Friday Cheers boasts a stellar line-up in a format designed to be safe for attendees.

“We are thrilled to present these shows in a safe and responsible way. Invite your friends and family out to enjoy the warm weather in one of Richmond’s most beautiful outdoor event venues,” said Stephen Lecky, director of events for Venture Richmond.

“Venture Richmond has helped make downtown Richmond a true cultural gem, and the team at Hardywood is thrilled for the opportunity to partner with them to bring people together over great music and delicious beer,” said Eric McKay, president and co-founder, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.

2021 Season Lineup

May 7 – Cris Jacobs Band (8:00) with Deau Eyes (6:30) 

Watch Cris Jacobs Band on YouTube: https://youtu.be/hEKpHKXO8ZM

Watch Deau Eyes on YouTube: https://youtu.be/kq_cE6RS1rc

 

May 21 – Agents of Good Roots (8:00) with Leon III (6:30) 

Watch Agents of Good Roots on YouTube: https://youtu.be/KMYLnohwSos

Watch Leon III on YouTube: https://youtu.be/q0EVYI-WWTE

 

May 28 – An evening with Art of Noise RVA (6:30)

Watch Art of Noise on YouTube: https://youtu.be/wyGKMd4L40w

 

June 4 – NO BS! Brass (8:00) with Piranha Rama (6:30) 

Watch NO BS! Brass on YouTube: https://youtu.be/-O7-djsBv5g

Watch Piranha Rama on YouTube: https://youtu.be/69ozz5M6yDY

 

June 11 – An evening with Suggesting Rhythm (6:30)

Watch Suggesting Rhythm on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Nd1rMllrwL8 

 

June 18 – Mighty Joshua (8:00) and Erin & the Wildfire (6:30) 

Watch Mighty Joshua on YouTube: https://youtu.be/sqQL756RT9E

Watch Erin and the Wildfire on YouTube: https://youtu.be/mGHVPXo7ftA

 

June 25 – Butcher Brown (8:00) with (6:30) Shormey

Watch Butcher Brown on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Oune3jVNHEs

Watch Shormey on YouTube: https://youtu.be/hcY9VHzLwG0 

Advance tickets for individual shows to Friday Cheers are now available to purchase online at Ticketstobuy.com. Tickets must be purchased in advance online only. There will be no box office on site. Pods will be limited to two, four and eight-persons including children. A two-person pod is 4′ x 8′. A four-person pod is 8′ x 8′. An eight-person general admission pod is a 20ft circle, located in the back section of the island with limited views of the stage. Reserve your pod now to get your choice of spots on the island!

All ticket holders must agree to comply with safety precautions put in place during the event, as outlined on our website. All public health protocols will be strictly enforced, and contactless practices have been implemented for the safety of our guests and staff. Face masks or coverings are required and no admittance will be allowed without one. Social distancing and a face mask are required any time a patron is outside their pod including while walking to the entry points and waiting in line for check-in, porta-johns and beverage and food pickup. All food and beverage purchases will be online and contactless.   

Friday Cheers is Presented by: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Friday Cheers is Sponsored by: CoStar Group, Dominion Green Power, 103.7 Your Variety,  NBC12, CW Richmond and Cucumbers on Fire.

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VMFA acquires portrait by iconic 16th-century woman artist Lavinia Fontana

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced their recent acquisition of Portrait of a Lady (1585) by Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), a celebrated woman artist from Bologna. 

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced their recent acquisition of Portrait of a Lady (1585) by Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), a celebrated woman artist from Bologna.

“Lavinia Fontana was a pioneer during her lifetime. The discovery and acquisition of this piece elevates VMFA’s collection of late Renaissance art,” says Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s CEO and Director. “Her work demonstrates the significant yet often unrecognized artistic contributions women have made throughout history.”

Fontana was one of the first women artists in Italy to work alongside her male colleagues. Owing to her talent and business acumen, she later became a trailblazer in her role as head of a successful studio. As early as the 1580s, Fontana’s portraiture was highly favored among Bolognese noble families. In the early 1600s, she moved to Rome where she became a painter at the papal court.

Best known for her portraits, Fontana was a renowned painter of the Mannerism movement during the Late Renaissance period. Her paintings reflect a maturation of the conventions of the Mannerist style and she plays an important role in the chapter of art history following the High Renaissance and immediately preceding the Baroque period. Despite the superficial naturalism that this portrait presents at first glance, the artist has cleverly manipulated the dimensions within the composition by subtly exaggerating the proportions of her sitter’s costume to give it a monumental aspect. The effect is magnified by the way that Fontana flattens the obscure background with its curiously positioned table, making the figure stand out in stark relief while simultaneously creating an image that is both spiritually intense and enigmatic. These contrivances, all of which are typical of earlier Mannerist artists such as Veronese and Tintoretto, allowed Fontana to create elegant compositions that flaunted her technical virtuosity.

The young woman in the portrait is dressed in an extravagant amount of gold, jewels, precious stones and pearls. During this era, pearls symbolized the purity of both body and soul. To further emphasize this aspect of her sitter’s moral character, Fontana depicts her toying gracefully with a rosary that is attached to her belt, a gesture that reminds the viewer of her pious dedication to daily prayer. Portraits of this kind were often part of the traditions surrounding aristocratic marital engagements. Fontana’s indulgence in representing the luxurious ornamentation, combined with her use of compositional elements intended to convey the Catholic piety and chastity of the sitter, ensure that the future bride is portrayed as a paragon of both wealth and virtue.

Although no evidence remains that might attest to the sitter’s identity, recent research has proposed that it could be an early portrait of Isabella Gonzaga (1565–1637). A member of a prestigious princely family of Mantua, Isabella inherited the minor principality of Sabbionetta from her father, and she was an influential presence at the courts of the duke of Milan and the king of Naples.

“Here is a woman’s regard for another woman during an era when the very contours of womanhood were principally being delineated by men. A noble woman in this society had to struggle to affirm her place, her dignity and her authority,” says Dr. Sylvain Cordier, VMFA’s Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art. “This representation of a confident and charismatic young noble woman will play a vital role in the development of the spectacular Grand Portrait Gallery that we are preparing for 2025. This gallery will assist our visitors to interrogate the constantly changing conventions governing gendered representation in European art over the course of several centuries.”

Portrait of a Lady is currently on view in VMFA’s Atrium. For more information about the museum’s collection of Renaissance art, visit www.VMFA.museum.

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Library of Virginia’s Weinstein Author Series celebrates Poetry Month in April

The Library of Virginia’s 2021 Carole Weinstein Author Series celebrates April as Poetry Month with a free virtual talk by poet, literary historian, and editor Kim Roberts on April 15 at 6:00 pm.

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The Library of Virginia’s 2021 Carole Weinstein Author Series celebrates April as Poetry Month with a free virtual talk by poet, literary historian, and editor Kim Roberts on April 15 at 6:00 pm. Her book By Broad Potomac’s Shore: Great Poems from the Early Days of Our Nation’s Capital uncovers great but hidden literature from lesser-known poets, including women, writers of color, LGBTQ+ writers, working-class writers, and those who were born enslaved.

The Carole Weinstein Author Series supports the literary arts by bringing both new and well-known authors to the Library of Virginia. Free and open to the public, the series focuses on Virginia authors and Virginia subjects across all genres.

2021 schedule:

April 15, 2021 (Virtual) KIM ROBERTS

By Broad Potomac’s Shore: Great Poems from the Early Days of Our Nation’s Capital

June 10, 2021 (In Person/Virtual as pandemic restrictions allow) VANESSA M. HOLDEN

Surviving Southampton: African American Women and Resistance in Nat Turner’s Community

September 14, 2021 (In Person/Virtual as pandemic restrictions allow)  KAREN L. COX 

No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice

November 17, 2021 (In Person/Virtual as pandemic restrictions allow)  ALEXIS COE 

You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington

To learn more, visit the Library of Virginia website here.

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