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Devotion (August 24—November 4, 2012)
EXHIBITION EXPLORES THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION OF DEVOTIONAL IMAGES FROM THE FOURTEENTH TO EIGHTEEN CENTURIES IN RELATION TO CONTEMPORARY RELIGIOUS WRITINGS. THE EXHIBITION INCLUDES PAINTING, SCULPTURE, DRAWING, TAPESTRY, AND PRINTS BY RUBENS, REMBRANDT, DÜRER, PATINIR, CARACCIOLO, AND OTHERS FROM THE BAM/PFA COLLECTION, ALONG WITH SAMPLES OF FIFTEENTH-CENTURY DEVOTIONAL TEXTS ON LOAN FROM THE BANCROFT LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY.
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Berkeley, CA, August 30, 2012 — The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents Devotion. The exhibition, organized by BAM/PFA Assistant Curator Stephanie Cannizzo, explores the Christian tradition of devotional images, and asks the question: “Is it possible to cultivate virtue by looking at art?” Including works from the BAM/PFA collection by Rembrandt, Rubens, Caracciolo, Patinir, Dürer, and others, Devotion is presented as a meditation cycle depicting scenes from the earthly life of Christ, moving from the time he was an infant in his mother’s arms to his death on the cross and the subsequent pietà.
Beginning in the late Middle Ages, do-it-yourself prayer manuals inspired by mystical traditions enabled lay audiences to learn monastic meditation techniques. At the same time, with the advent of perspectival drawing, artworks took on a more realistic appearance, enhancing the relationship between the viewer and the image. Together, these texts and images had a profound impact on devotional practices.
The artworks in Devotion represent a range of artistic approaches to sacred images. Painting, sculpture, drawing, tapestry, and prints from the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries are arranged as a sequential narrative to mirror segments of the fourteenth-century text Meditations on the Life of Christ by John of Caulibus, thought to be the first devotional text to present a chronological account of Christ’s life on earth. Caulibus frequently uses metaphor in his text, which was intended to encourage empathic identification and provide readers with role models, and metaphor also plays a significant role in these artworks. For example, the emerging genre of landscape painting in Patinir’s Flight into Egypt serves here as a metaphor for the pilgrimage through life, where one experiences peaks and valleys as well as a choice of paths.
While some considered employing art as a vehicle to reach a transcendent state a lower form of meditation, others allowed it as a valid point of departure. Ultimately the aim was to rise above the need for images in the quest for a divine connection, but for the novice practitioner art helped to activate compassion and cultivate virtue through a process of inner visualization and empathy.
Sunday, November 4, 2012, 3 p.m.
Liturgies East and West: Musical Performance by the UC Chamber Chorus
As a musical complement to the exhibition Devotion, the acclaimed University Chamber Chorus, directed by Marika Kuzma, performs a concert of liturgical music from the Eastern and Western Christian traditions—chants, hypnotic litanies, and elaborate polyphonic works—including Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Mass in G (1921) and excerpts from the Roman Hurko’s Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom III (2011).
Devotion is organized by Assistant Curator Stephanie Cannizzo. Special thanks to Curatorial Intern Jessina Leonard and The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Founded in 1963, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is UC Berkeley’s primary visual arts venue and among the largest university art museums in terms of size and audience in the United States. Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, BAM/PFA is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national and global discourse on art and ideas. BAM/PFA’s mission is “to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.”
BAM/PFA presents approximately fifteen art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year. The museum’s collection of over 16,000 works of art includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and video art. Its film archive of over 14,000 films and videos includes the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, Hollywood classics, and silent film, as well hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film, many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.
Location: 2626 Bancroft Way, just below College Avenue across from the UC Berkeley campus.
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Information: 24-hour recorded message (510) 642-0808; fax (510) 642-4889; TDD (510) 642-8734.