50th re-bonds US-Swiss friendship

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AAPDN) – Each year, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery showcases a portrait created by a foreign artist in an exhibition designed around that artwork. Opening Friday, December 15, 2017, “Portraits of the World: Switzerland” featured work for this year’s inaugural exhibition is “Femme en Extase” (Woman in Ecstasy), a portrait of the Italian dancer Giulia Leonardi by the Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler.

“Femme en Extase” by Ferdinand Hodler, 1911.

Artist Hodler’s experimentation with the abstract elements of color, line and expression created a vibrant new mode of Swiss art at the dawn of the 20th century. Painted in 1911, “Femme en Extase” represents the Swiss modernist approach to expressing emotion through body movement and aligns with the theory known as eurhythmics, which had an international impact and transformed dance in the United States at the turn of the 20th century.

“Switzerland and the United States have historically had a close relationship, as borne out by the rather remarkable fact that in 1968 our so-called Sister Republic lent five American portraits to the National Portrait Gallery’s inaugural exhibition,” said Kim Sajet, the Portrait Gallery’s director. “Now, on the eve of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the museum’s public opening, we once again turn to our Swiss friends for collaboration. This modest but extraordinary exhibition coincides with major Hodler retrospectives in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, all of which are commemorating the centennial of the artist’s death.”

The portrait, “Femme en Extase” (Woman in Ecstasy), will be complemented by a selection of works from the Portrait Gallery’s collection representing American dancers,  Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis who were influenced by eurhythmics. Artworks featured in the exhibition will range from an 1897 chromolithograph of the American dancer Loïe Fuller by Jules Cheret, to a 1938 gelatin silver print of Doris Humphrey by dance photographer Barbara Morgan.

The “Portraits of the World: Switzerland” exhibition series is curated by Portrait Gallery assistant curator of prints, drawings and media arts Robyn Asleson, who will conduct a special tour on Sunday, December 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm.


     The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story. www.npg.si.edu


Published by on December 2017. Filed under At the Galleries, At the Museums dept, News (Time related), Palette News Arts Network/PNAN, Washington D.C.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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