Farmlab Public Salon
Dominique Vivant Denon
Friday May 9, 2008 @ Noon
Antiquario dell Statue and Museum of Modern Art
About the Salon
Join Dominique Vivant Denon for a preview of his upcoming exhibition, SITES OF MODERNITY: Antiquario dell Statue and Museum of Modern Art. The show will take place this June, at the Oberwelt Gallery in Stuttgart, Germany.
About Sites of Modernity
Some time around the year 1503, Pope Julius II placed the Apollo statue, which was in his possession, into the newly built Vatican garden named Belvedere. Soon after, the Laocoon group was excavated and brought to the garden as well. Then came other statues: Torso, Nile, Cleopatra, Venus, Comodus as Hercules, Tiber, etc. Those had been mostly broken marbles scattered around in various private palaces or buried for many centuries. Now, put on display together in the enclosed garden, they became exhibits, as if in an open-air wonder camera. Unlike the other wonder camera collections, this one was dedicated solely to the statues from ancient times. Those fragments from the past, placed among the orange trees and in specially built niches, emerged as a completely new sight for the contemporaries. This was a sight that had never been seen before. Soon it got the name Antiquario delle Statue, and that was the moment when the Antiquity was born. However, this particular display of the statues from the past became also the new vision of the past. Being the most novel invention of the time, this represents the birth of Modernity as well. Those statues were the first works of art and the first modern works of art. Thus the Belvedere Antiquarium itself was not only the first museum of art, but also the first museum of modern art. Since that moment, the Antiquario dell Statue, directly or indirectly, shaped the concept of art and art institutions throughout the entire Western World, for the next five centuries.
In 1929 The Museum of Modern Art opened in New York. After Pio-Clementino and the Louvre museums, this was the last important offspring of the Belvedere impulse. Being international in scope, the idea of Modern was to collect and exhibit the best and most advanced art of the time. At the 1936 exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art, instead of the dominant 19th century paradigm based on National Schools, the museum's founding director Alfred Barr introduced the idea of International Movements. This completely changed the character of the modern art narrative, and retroactively, the History of Art in general. And this is the narrative that has been shaping the art world ever since.
Today the old Belvedre collection of statues is in the Vatican Museum, while the most important collection of modern art is in the Museum of Modern Art. And today these two museums are both museums of antiquities. The exhibition Sites of Modernity brings together to life the fading memories on these two most important museums of modern art: Belvedere Romanum and Museum of Modern Art.
About the Salon Presenter
Dominique Vivant Denon is for the time being an associate of the Salon de Fleurus. He will move to the future 'Museum of Antiquity' when it opens eventually. Email him at FleurusNY [AT] gmail [DOT] com.
Images of Belvedere (top) and Pope Julius II (bottom) courtesy Dominique Vivant Denon