It's too big for one venue, so a new exhibit on the University of Iowa campus will be presented in both the Old Capitol Museum and the Iowa Memorial Union.
The exhibit, "Napoléon and the Art of Propaganda," features more than 120 drawings, prints, painting, sculptures, manuscripts, medals, and other objects. The exhibit opens Sept. 13 and continues through Jan. 29 in the Pentacrest Museums Gallery for Arts, Humanities, and Sciences in the Old Capitol Museum and in the Black Box Theater at the Iowa Memorial Union.
The UI Museum of Art, in partnership with UI Pentacrest Museums, is presenting the special exhibition. All the works are from the private collection of Pierre-Jean Chalençon, a renowned Napoleon expert whose collection now includes more than 500 objects and has been loaned to museums all over the world.
This exhibition considers the full range of official art created under Napoléon I and includes works by some of the most important artists, architects, and sculptors of the period, including Jacques-Louis David, Antonio Canova, Anne-Louis Girodet, François Gérard, Charles Percier, and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine.
“In this extraordinary exhibition, the aesthetic value and social history of so-called ‘propagandistic art’ created during the First Empire is critically reexamined through close analysis and scholarly research," says co-curator Heidi Kraus, visiting scholar at the UI. "This exhibition seeks to demonstrate that despite strict censorship laws and a dictatorial arts administration, many artists working in the service of Napoléon were deeply inspired by and passionately engaged with their prescribed ‘official’ subjects."
In addition to the exhibition’s two locations, multiple free public events will be happening throughout downtown Iowa City during the exhibition’s run, including lectures, films, and an outdoor reading of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
Among those events, “Napoleon and His Legacy” will kick off the 2012-2013 season of WorldCanvass, a discussion program produced by International Programs and distributed widely over television, radio, and the Internet. The public is invited to attend the event, which begins at 5 p.m. on Sept. 21 in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum.
WorldCanvass guests will discuss the UIMA’s extensive exhibit; Napoleon as the creator of an empire; Napoleon as represented in art, literature, film, and music; Napoleon and America, with a look at new discoveries related to Iowa’s role in the War of 1812; and exhibits on display in the Old Capitol Museum and the UI Libraries. They'll also reflect on Napoleon’s legacy 200 years on.
“Napoléon and the Art of Propaganda” is curated by Kraus and UIMA Executive Director Sean O’Harrow. In addition, Dorothy Johnson, Roy J. Carver Professor of Art History in the UI School of Art and Art History, served as senior consultant. The exhibition was organized by the UI Museum of Art and UI Pentacrest Museums and sponsored by Lynn and Stuart Weinstein, Joyce and Dick Summerwill, and Bob and Karlen Fellows.