Big doings at the Walters, elsewhere

September 13, 2001|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

It's always fun to look ahead at what's coming up in area museums and galleries, and this year there will be any number of shows to entertain and intrigue visitors.

The big news this season, of course, will be the grand reopening of the Walters Art Museum's 1974 building, which has been undergoing renovations for the past two years.

"Wondrous Journeys: The Walters Collection From Egyptian Tombs to Medieval Castles" opens Oct. 20 as a new installation of the permanent collection that traces the path of artistic achievement in the West through nearly 5,000 years and 2,000 works of art.

All signs point to this show being one of the season's highlights, comparable to the reopening of the Baltimore Museum of Art's reinstallation of the Cone Wing earlier this year.

For the many fans of Impressionism, the Phillips Collection in Washington is pulling out the stops this fall with "Impressionist Still Life," a mega-look at what those visionary 19th century bad boys could do with just a few fruits, vegetables and various household odds and ends.

In the spring, the Walters Art Museum weighs in with "The Age of Impressionism: European Masterpieces from Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen." In both shows, the Usual Suspects include Cezanne, Degas, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley.

If you like Impressionists, you'll also love the BMA's show in February, "Reflections of Sea and Light: Paintings and Watercolors by J.M.W. Turner From Tate." Turner's brilliant seascapes were a milestone in art when they first appeared more than a century and a half ago, and they remain one of the wonders of Western painting.

Another of those wonders will be on view later this month at the National Gallery in Washington in the show "Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo's Ginevra de Benci and Renaissance Portraits of Women."

Leonardo's famous portrait of Ginevra de Benci, the only painting by the master in the Western Hemisphere, forms the centerpiece of this fascinating look at Renaissance women, which also includes a gem of a painting by the 16th century Florentine artist Pontormo. "Maria Salviati with Giulia de Medici," on loan from the Walters for this show, is believed to be the earliest representation of a girl of African descent in European art.

Speaking of early, the BMA's fall show, "Antioch: The Lost Ancient City," offers a fascinating look at art and artifacts from one of the great cities of the Roman Empire during the early Christian era.

The city, located in present-day Turkey near the Syrian border, was destroyed by an earthquake in the sixth century. But during the 1930s an American archaeological dig rediscovered thousands of ancient artworks and artifacts on the site, including examples of the marvelous mosaic tile floors that decorated the city's great homes and public buildings. Many of the mosaics came to the BMA, where they will be the centerpiece of the fall show.

Other shows to watch for this season: sculptor Henry Moore and painters Aelbert Cuyp and Francisco Goya at the National Gallery; African-American collages at the BMA; photographer Edward Weston at the Phillips Collection; and Baltimore artist Chevelle Makeba Moore Jones at Steven Scott Gallery.

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