James Hyman is proud to present a specially curated exhibition
for Masterpiece London, Metamorphoses and the Art of Love,
inspired by the poetry of Ovid. The exhibition takes as its starting
point Ovid’s celebrated Metamorphoses with its compendium of
Greek and Roman myths concerning transformation, and his
Ars Armatoria (Art of Love), a three-part instructional guide to
love and seduction.
addresses the theme of
transformation, most often
of human beings into other
natural forms. The
exhibition includes key
works that explore this
theme. A centre piece is
provided by one of Ivon
Hitchens greatest and largest paintings, The Fountain of Acis. Inspired
by the nymph Acis’s transformation into a stream, it includes not only
a Greek temple but also a voluptuous depiction of beloved Galatea side
the water. Man Ray’s unique, large-scale, solarised nude – which we
will display for the first time in London -
also directly echoes Ovid. Although untitled,
it makes direct references to depictions of Narcissus gazing at his reflection. The
pose echoes antique marbles of the subject, whilst the folds of a rug suggest
ripples of water.
Altogether more controversial was Ovid’s Ars Armatoria, which at a time
of a new morality, including the promotion of monogamy by Emperor
Augustus, may have seemed too liberal in its treatment of adultery, and
contributed to Ovid being exiled from Rome. The three books of Ars Armatoria
address first, how to find women; second, how to seduce them; and finally, how to
prevent others from stealing them. Ovid also addresses what a woman should do
to keep a man. The tone, however, is parodic, witty
and playful. Humour is often close at hand as Ovid advises 'not forgetting her
birthday', 'letting her miss you - but not for long' and 'not asking about her age'
and instructs women on 'making up, but in private', 'being wary of false lovers'
and 'trying young and older lovers'.
The exhibition includes exceptional
photographs by some of the greatest
photographers in the history of the
medium, from the earliest days of
photography through to more recent
times, among them rare vintage prints by David Bailey, Edouard
Baldus, Hippoltye Bayard, Roger Fenton, Jacques-Henri Lartigue,
Charles Negre, Man Ray, William Henry Fox Talbot and Edward
Weston. A select choice of key paintings that address the theme of
the exhibition will also be included. Prominent among them are an
important early Pop Art painting by Patrick Caulfield and a major
canvas by Ivon Hitchens.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a new publication.
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