Religion, Ritual, and Performance in the Renaissance

August 28, 2012 - June 30, 2013
Stern Gallery

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Religion, Ritual and Performance in the Renaissance brings together more than 80 works, sacred and secular, spanning the late thirteenth to early seventeenth centuries, from both Northern and Southern Europe. The objects—which include paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts—are from the collections of the AMAM and Yale University Art Gallery.

The exhibition was made possible by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as part of a collection-sharing initiative. It 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, including portraits and chests, which nevertheless perform functions related to self-fashioning and display. Among the many exceptional works in the exhibition are two portable altarpieces that would have been used in private devotion: one, a painted triptych (the earliest on view, from ca. 1280-90), is discreet and intimate, while the other, a lapis lazuli- and coral-encrusted work complete with its case (one of the latest works, 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 others, as well as sculptures from France, Germany, and Italy.

An exciting aspect of the exhibition 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 collections. Also reunited are six enigmatic paintings from a series of twelve by Maerten van Heemskerck. A very large early fifteenth-century Florentine altarpiece is seen in its full glory, emphasizing the fragmentary nature of so many other Renaissance paintings whose original surrounding works have been lost. The exhibition will be used extensively in teaching, research, and public programs during the 2012-13 academic year.

This exhibition was curated by Andria Derstine, John G.W. Cowles Director, who would like to thank former Director Stephanie Wiles and former Curator of Academic Programs Colette Crossman for their many contributions. Additional assistance was provided by Franny Brock (OC 2009) and Sarah Farkas (OC 2012). Associate Professor Erik Inglis, Professor Steven Plank, Professor Nicholas Jones, many other Oberlin College faculty members, Curator of Academic Programs Liliana Milkova, and colleagues from the Yale University Art Gallery were integral to the project’s realization.

Related Events
Sept. 6, 5:00-8:00 pm—Opening reception for fall exhibitions, with curators’ tours.

Sept. 11, 2:30 pm—Professor Erik Inglis, of Oberlin College’s Art department, will discuss works on view in the exhibition, with light refreshments to follow.

Oct. 4, 5:30 pm—Dr. Laurence Kanter (OC ’76), Chief Curator and Lionel Goldfrank III Curator of European Art, Yale University Art Gallery, will present a lecture entitled “Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, and the ‘Birth’ of the Renaissance.” This talk is free and open to the public. Funds towards this program were generously provided by the Oberlin College Art Department's Clarence Ward Fund, and the Oberlin College Alumni Association.

Nov. 13, 2:30 pm
—Professor Wendy Hyman, of Oberlin College’s English department, will present a talk entitled “Poetry of Love and Seduction in the Renaissance”, with light refreshments to follow.

Dec. 6, 5:30 pm—Oberlin College’s Renaissance Recorder Ensemble will perform period music related to the ongoing “Religion, Ritual and Performance in the Renaissance” exhibition. A talk with Professor of Historical Performance Kathryn Montoya, Professor of English Nicholas Jones, and AMAM Director Andria Derstine will follow the concert.

Dec. 11, 2:30 pm—Professor Peter Swendsen, of Oberlin College’s Conservatory of Music, will talk about the intersections of ritual, performance, and technology, with light refreshments to follow.

Feb. 7, 5:30pm— Come celebrate with us the opening of four new exhibitions! Tours will be led by Denise Birkhofer, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Liliana Milkova, Curator of Academic Programs, Erik Inglis, Professor of Medieval Art History, Sara Green, Curatorial Assistant, and Ian MacMillan, Visiting Professor in Ethnomusicology.

April 6, 12pm to 4pm — Community Day Saturday, April 6 from 12pm until 4pm Come join Cleveland-based artist Hector Castellanos, as he creates Guatamalan Sawdust Carpets at the AMAM. Traditionally, sawdust carpets are made prior to the Catholic Holy Week, and are created out of multi-colored sawdust in intricate patterns and designs. Other activities will be available for families and visitors of all ages.

April 9, 2:30pm — Jim Swan-Tuite, Visiting Assistant Professor in Religious Ethics, will discuss Albrect Durer's St. Jerome in his Study and theological developments in the Reformation.

April 13 - May 4, 1pm to 4pm — FAVA AMAM Teen Workshop, Theme: Processional Arts. This workshop will delve in to the dramatic realms of Processional Arts. The Oberlin Big Parade is a grand opportunity to learn about the art of creating enlivening performance pieces such as giant puppets, masks, floats, costumes and more. We will take an in depth look at other processional traditions from around the world. Students will then work together in groups to create projects that will be presented at the Oberlin Big Parade on May 4, 2013.

April 25-26, 2013—The AMAM will host a two-day scholarly symposium on the theme of "Religion, Ritual and Performance in the Renaissance", which will be free and open to the public.

Public programming related to the "Religion, Ritual and Performance in the Renaissance" exhibition is supported in part by an award
from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Italian, Creto-Venetian School
Virgin and Child, ca. 1500
Tempera on softwood panel
Gift of Robert Lehman, 1944.34