The Brueghel Series (A Vanitas of Style), a series of 16 monochrome and 64 polychrome paintings by noted contempory artist Pat Steir will open at The Brooklyn Museum on December 6 and be on view in the Grand Lobby through February 18, 1985.
Using a 17th century still life painting by Jan Brueghel the Elder as her model, Steir has worked for two years to paint a monumental study of the history of pictorial styles. The paintingg itself has been done three times by Steir: the first based on a 4’ x 4’ grid in monochrome; the second on an 8’ x 8’grid in polychrome, and the third a copy of the original which hangs in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Steir organized her study of style by enlarging the original painting and developing the original into a series of 64 separate panels each the size of the original. Each individual panel represents a particular style, and each style is determined by the spatial relationships of the particular segments. The viewer will find that the juxtapositions and comparisons of the four monochrome and eight polychrome horizontal or vertical rows read as a compedium of quotations which often show surprising art historical connections, revelations and judgements. In most cases the quotation is derived from the style on an individual artist: Chardin, Matisse, or Rembrandt for example. In other instances the canvases reflect broader movements and style such as Cubism, or Futurism.
Through quotation, Pat Steir investigates the unique qualities of paintings as well as witnessing their common historic characteristics.
“All art which endures the centuries”, Steir stated, “can be considered great art--it symbolizes to us that there is something common among us--to our condition. Art that endures allows us to speak of the human condition.”
Following its Brooklyn Museum venue, The Brueghel Series will travel to the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska; University Art Museum, Berkeley, California; and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1971 - 1988. 1984, 052.