Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) opens Religion, Ritual and Performance

The Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) at Oberlin College presents Religion, Ritual and Performance in the Renaissance, an exhibition, on view from August 28, 2012-June 30, 2013.

Ghirlandaio Portrait of a Lady with a Rabbit, ca. 1515, YUAG, University Purchase from James Jackson Jarves, 1871.72

The impetus behind this over-arching series is the exhibition Religion, Ritual and Performance in the Renaissance, which brings together more than 80 works, sacred and secular, spanning the late 13th to early 17th centuries, and from both Northern and Southern Europe. The paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts on view are from the collections of the AMAM and Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG).

The exhibition presents works used in private devotion, public worship, religious processions, and other rites and rituals, such as marriages, alongside those of a more secular nature, includ- ing portraits and chests, which nevertheless perform functions related to self-fashioning and display. Among the many excep- tional artworks in the exhibition are two portable altarpieces that would have been used in private devotion: one, a painted triptych (the earliest work on view, from ca. 1280-90), is discreet and intimate, while the other, a lapis lazuli- and coral-encrusted altarpiece complete with its case (one of the latest works in the exhibition, from 1608), is a masterpiece of craftsmanship. The exhibition allows the AMAM to supplement its rich Renaissance collection with superb paintings from Yale by Taddeo and Agnolo Gaddi, Sano di Pietro, Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, Lucas van Leyden, and Jacopo Tintoretto, among many other artists, as well as with impressive sculptures from France, Germany, and Italy.

An exciting aspect of Religion, Ritual and Performance in the Renaissance is the opportunity it presents to see works by Apollonio di Giovanni, Neri di Bicci, Mariotto di Nardo, and Barthel Bruyn the Elder from both the AMAM and YUAG collec- tions. Also reunited are six enigmatic paintings, all done in shades of brown, from a series of twelve by Maerten van Heemskerck. A large early 15th- century Florentine altarpiece is seen in its full glory, emphasizing the fragmentary nature of so many other Renaissance paintings whose original sur- rounding works have been lost.

The Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) houses an encyclopedic collection of more than 14,000 works selected to provide a comprehensive overview of the history of art. The AMAM works extensively with Oberlin College faculty and students to promote direct study of original works of art to foster visual literacy and a deeper understanding of the diversity of the world’s cultures, and serves a broad regional audience, operating on the premise that learning about art is important for everyone. This principle is demonstrated by free admission to all, offered since its founding in 1917. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays. Free educational or group guided tours may be arranged by calling the museum’s Education Office at (440) 775-8671.

The Allen Memorial Art Museum
Oberlin College
87 North Main Street
Oberlin, OH 44074
Telephone: 440.775.8665
Fax: 440.775.8799

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