Museum Home Current Exhibitions Neoclassical, Romantic, and Symbolist Sculpture and Decorative Arts

August 31, 2010–ongoing at the Getty Center

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A suite of newly designed sculpture and decorative arts galleries in the West Pavilion at the Getty Center takes visitors through a survey of European sculpture, decorative arts, and paintings, 1700–1900.

Recent acquisitions are prominently featured, including Pietro Cipriani's Medici Venus and Dancing Faun and Jean-Désiré Ringel d'Illzach's nine-foot-high Vase covered with life casts of spiders, juniper branches, and scraps of lace. Other engaging highlights include Johannes Andreas Beo's secrétaire and a bust of French socialite Juliette Récamier by Joseph Chinard.

Following in the footsteps of the recently reinstalled North Pavilion galleries, the new chrono-thematic configuration juxtaposes sculptures, paintings, decorative arts, and prints from similar periods in contextualized displays. The galleries progress chronologically from around 1700 to around 1900, reflecting the development of styles associated with that span.

The Invention of a New Classical Style, 1700–1830. The excavations of ancient archaeological sites in Greece and in Italy and the wish to break with the no-longer-fashionable styles of Baroque and Rococo sculpture led in the 1700s to a fervent desire to create modern sculpture imbued with the characteristics of ancient sculpture. An ideal canon of beauty that included pure forms and silhouettes, this new classical style in Europe is defined by the predominant use of white marble and the adaptation of mythological subject matter.

Late Neoclassicism in European Art and Design, 1780–1830. In the wake of the French Revolution in 1789, Napoleon Bonaparte's adoption of Neoclassicism as an official imperial style, coined the Empire style, contributed to the popularity of Neoclassical ideals in France and its imitation by European rulers. The curvilinear silhouettes that had dominated the decorative arts were replaced by rectilinear lines, incorporating ancient motifs.

Romanticism to Symbolism, 1830–1900. The Romantic movement, which emphasized the irrational in man and the sublime in nature, had its roots in the literary, visual, and musical arts. Toward the end of the 19th century, a group of French and Belgian artists developed a style known as Symbolism, which reflected the spiritual and mystical philosophies of the day.

Learn more about the Neue Galerie's exhibition.
Watch a 30-minute documentary about Messerschmidt from the Neue Galerie.
Learn more about the Musée du Louvre's exhibition.