3 exhibitions to discover a rich but little-known art in France

3 exhibitions to discover a rich but little-known art in France

In Colmar colorful painting

Color, glory and beauty
Unterlinden Museum, Colmar
Rens. : website or telephone 03 89 20 15 50

The Unterlinden museum, in Colmar, takes us through Color, glory and beauty in the German Middle Ages and its painting on wood. With, of course, the Isenheim altarpiece, by Matthias Grünewald, the museum’s masterpiece which can be admired from a high room. But we discover other religious works which are all characterized by tremendous expressiveness and a lively palette.

Thus, the panel of the Passion altarpiece (1485), by Caspar Isenmann, depicting the “Judas kiss”. A large-headed Saint Peter prepares to cut off the ear of a centurion on the ground while the red-haired Iscariot (hair color then considered evil) and dressed in yellow (symbol of betrayal) kisses Christ: the Judas’ perfidy is accentuated by the contrast between the tender embrace and his ugly, hooked-nosed profile.

The truculent and carnivalesque aesthetic of this Germanic art, with its grimacing faces, its postures with a burlesque mannerism, its scarlet tones, is very far from our contemporary canons. But the labels are very suitable – especially for young audiences with specific fun instructions – take us by the hand and reveal to us the behind the scenes of this sacred painting, colorful and with gleaming gold backgrounds. Rooms are also dedicated to the production of works or to their sponsors.

“Domestic” altarpieces, namely miniaturized and for private use for this new piety refocused on humility and introspection – the modern devotion –, are small jewels of holy iconography, such as this altarpiece of The life of the Virgin (around 1480-1490). Martin Schongauer, the “master” of Albrecht Dürer, synthesizes the naturalist rendering of the Flemish primitives, who invented the so-called “atmospheric” perspective composed of receding landscapes in the background, and the more hieratic Gothic tradition. . As proof, the magnificent Annunciation from the Orlier altarpiece (oil on wood) with the archangel Gabriel with peacock feather wings.

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