Delirium: The Art of the Symbolist Book explores creative encounters between Symbolist authors and the artists in their circles. The movement coalesced during the second half of the nineteenth century as writers in France and Belgium sought a new form of art—one that referenced the visible world as symbols that correlate to ideas and states of mind. The Symbolists celebrated subjectivity, expressed through a nuanced language of reverie, delirium, mysticism, and ecstasy. For these writers, literature suggests meaning rather than defines it.
The Symbolist movement was a revolt against naturalism, with an emphasis on allusion and self-expression that resonated with contemporary painters, who were in turn inspired to translate these ideas to visual art. Collaborations in print with Symbolist writers presented artists with a paradox: to create illustrations for words deliberately detached from explicit meaning or concrete reality. Divergent attempts to meet this challenge helped to liberate illustration from its purely representational role, introducing an unchartered dialogue between text and image. These developments informed the emergence of the concept of the book-as-art, a tradition that continues today.
The exhibition features works by more than thirty leading figures, including Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867), Stephane Mallarmé (1842–1898), Paul Verlaine (1844–1896), Alfred Jarry (1873–1907), Maurice Maeterlinck (1862–1949), Odilon Redon (1840–1916), Maurice Denis (1870–1943), Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947), Henri Fantin-Latour (1836–1904), Henry van de Velde (1863–1957), and Fernand Khnopff (1858–1921).
Delirium: The Art of the Symbolist Book is made possible by the Charles E. Pierce, Jr. Fund for Exhibitions.
One of the most popular and enigmatic American writers of the nineteenth century, Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) wrote almost 1,800 poems. Nevertheless, her work was essentially unknown to contemporary readers since only a handful of poems were published during her lifetime and a vast trove of her manuscripts was not discovered until after her death in 1886.
Often typecast as a recluse who rarely left her Amherst home, Dickinson was, in fact, socially active as a young woman and maintained a broad network of friends and correspondents even as she grew older and retreated into seclusion. Bringing together nearly one hundred rarely seen items, including manuscripts and letters, I’m Nobody! Who are you?—a title taken from her popular poem—is the most ambitious exhibition on Dickinson to date. It explores a side of her life that is seldom acknowledged: one filled with rich friendships and long-lasting relationships with mentors and editors.
The exhibition closely examines twenty-four poems in various draft states, with corresponding audio stops. In addition to her writings, the show also features an array of visual material, including hand-cut silhouettes, photographs and daguerreotypes, contemporary illustrations, and other items that speak to the rich intellectual and cultural environment in which Dickinson lived and worked. The exhibition is organized in conjunction with Amherst College.
Listen to a selection of poems by Emily Dickinson, as read by contemporary poet Lee Ann Brown.
I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson is made possible with generous support from the Ricciardi Family Exhibition Fund, the Lohf Fund for Poetry, the Caroline Macomber Fund, and Rudy and Sally Ruggles, and assistance from the Acriel Foundation and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.
The Nationalmuseum, Sweden’s largest and most distinguished art institution, is partnering with the Morgan to bring more than seventy-five masterpieces from its collections to New York for a rare visit. The show includes work by artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Antoine Watteau, and François Boucher.
The core holdings of the Nationalmuseum were assembled by Count Carl Gustaf Tessin (1696–1770), a diplomat and one of the great art collectors of his day. On assignment in Paris from 1739, Tessin came into contact with the leading artists of the time and commissioned many works from them. He was also among the most active buyers at major sales of old master paintings and drawings. By the time he left Paris in 1742, he had amassed a truly impressive collection.
Among the fourteen paintings in the exhibition are three commissioned by Tessin and exhibited at the 1740 Parisian Salon: Boucher’s Triumph of Venus, Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s Dachshound Pehr with Dead Game and Rifle, and a Portrait of Count Tessin by Jacques-André-Joseph Aved, in which the collector is shown among his art, books, and medals. The group of paintings will also feature six works by Jean-Siméon Chardin.
The drawings include works by Italian masters such as Domenico Ghirlandaio, Raphael, Giulio Romano, and Annibale Carracci. Northern European artists are represented by Dürer, Hendrik Goltzius, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Anthony van Dyck, among others. The French drawings begin with Francesco Primaticcio and practitioners of the Fountainebleau school and include works by Jacques Callot and Nicholas Poussin, as well as Count Tessin’s French contemporaries, Boucher, Chardin, and Watteau.
Treasures from the Nationalmuseum of Sweden: The Collections of Count Tessin is made possible by a lead gift from the Michel David-Weill Foundation, major funding from The Gilbert and Ildiko Butler Family Foundation and the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, and generous support from the Johansson Family Foundation, Katharine J. Rayner, the Christian Humann Foundation, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, and The American-Scandinavian Foundation.