“Looking Back: The Western Tradition in Retrospect” at Harvard Art Museums | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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“Looking Back: The Western Tradition in Retrospect” at Harvard Art Museums

William Blake's "Christ Blessing," c. 1810. Tempera on canvas. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum
(Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum)

Pausing and rewinding the approach we take when we consider art history is an on going exhibition at Harvard Art Museums. The order of this special exhibition moves from contemporary to the Renaissance, rather than the other way, to re-examine the older works. “Looking Back: The Western Tradition in Retrospect” runs at the museums until May 6, 2018.

The history of art is usually presented as a forward march, with individual works studied as points along a path of progress to the present. This unique installation “Looking Back: The Western Tradition in Retrospect” reverses that familiar direction. The aim is to capture the point of view of the artists themselves, who have, for generations tried to preserve, transform, surpass, or overturn what came before them. The reverse prospect also corresponds with how humans are situated in history, looking back inexorably from a position in the present moment that is but shaped effectively by the past.

The exhibit, with its display of selected artworks from the Western tradition, impels one to observe that even the most radical contemporary variations depend heavily on the art of the past, thus making the Old Masters an integral part of the contemporary times. To experience the different connections, tales, and dislocations that arise through these artworks, visitors are encouraged to travel the sequence in both directions — from present to past and from past to present.

“Looking Back: The Western Tradition in Retrospect” will be on view from January 20–May 6, 2018, University Teaching Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street Cambridge.

For more information, visit http://www.blouinartinfo.com/galleryguide-venues/291686/museum-overview

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