Irene Andessner - Art Protectors
Irene Andessner resuscitates the Tableau vivant with “Art Protectors” in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. The exhibition 'The Gold Age. Dutch Group Portraits from the Amsterdams Historic Museum' can be seen till 21.11.2010 in Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
This podcast was realized with the kind support of UNIQUA ArtCercles.
Art Protectors is a two-piece tableau vivant Irene Andessner staged in the Kunsthistorisches Museum after the model of Dutch regent’s portraits. Two paintings of Jan de Brays of 1667 are the initial source. They show the administrative council of the leper-, pestilence and insane asylum, the directors and patrons administering and supporting it. In her contemporary reinterpretation of the subject, Andessner replaces the staff of both paintings by patrons of the arts: collectors, gallerists, a museum director, a curator.
»A person is never himself, he is always a mask.« (Achille Bonito Oliva). Thereby the mask serves as an instrument of de-/construction of identity. Depending on culture and usage, the mask has various connotations. The face acts as boundary between within and without, between self and other, between displaying and hiding of affects and emotions. The regent’s portraits of the first half of the 17th century in particular possess a very formal composition. A lot of emphasis was placed on the details depicting the social status of the portrayed. Reenacting these individual representations constitute the focus of Irene Andessner’s work. In the process the artist casts herself in different parts – in this case as the sponsored.
In the mid 1800s an understanding of the social function of art had already started to develop. In France, art-interested citizens and pundits accomplished access to the royal art collections. Consequently a collection of paintings was installed in the Palais de Luxembourg of Paris. This collection was later relocated to the Louvre. At this time in Vienna, parts of the Imperial collection were already accessible to the public in today’s chamber of the ecclesiastical treasury in Hofburg palace. However, towards the end of the 18th century first criticism concerning this cultural policy under state control arose. Art disengaged itself more and more of the courtly environment and its representational tasks. More and more citizens commissioned, collected and received art and became patrons and promoters. By means of these patrons a self-confident citizenry developed and civic values were introduced into society.
The first representation of a tableau vivant is documented in 1761, when a painting of Jean-Baptiste Greuze was re-enacted as part of a play at the Paris theatre. The term Tableau vivant is traceable since 1818. Tableaux vivants reflect and interpret works of art. If their initial purpose was to resurrect bygone eras by eliminating the historical distance, in Andessner’s work they serve as critical metaphors. Andessner goes beyond reproducing the original model. The images are stripped down to the essential by changing props, costumes etc. therefore revealing their connection to the present.
Nowadays the visiting of galleries and museums as well as collecting art is popular worldwide like never before. The questions of influence, of the power of collectors, the social, political, economical and cultural contexts of collecting, but also of the social responsibility and relevance of art are evidently crucial.
CastYourArt takes the opportunity of the preparations for Art Protectors to interview not only the artist, but also the general director of the KHM Sabine Haag, as well as Karl Schütz, head of the KHM picture gallery and the participating collectors about this controversial issue.