May 31, 2020

The search for beauty, according to Rudolf Gernstenmaier | Culture

Hans Rudolf Gernstenmaier (Hamburg, 84 years old), the collector who decided to become Spanish since his arrival in Madrid in 1962, has shown part of his painting collection, about 115 works, on numerous occasions. But the collection that treasures in their homes in Madrid and El Boalo, also includes dozens of sculptures and unique pieces of decorative arts that have barely been seen by art lovers. Selected pieces from this less known part of his collection, make up the exhibition The search for beauty that until January 19 can be seen in the Cerralbo Museum in Madrid. On Thursday night, during the opening of the exhibition, Gernstenmaier said he was happy to be able to spread this part of his collection. “I do not want to have things hidden, I am not one of those collectors who prefer to accumulate in secret. This collection is the illusion of my life and I want it to be known. ”

The historians Carolina Naya and Elisa Ramiro, authors of the catalog of decorative arts of the Gernstenmaier collection have acted as curators of the exhibition in collaboration with the specialists of the Cerralbo museum. The painting is not the object of the exhibition, but there are several canvases that give rise to the expository discourse. Oil Almeria beach at night (1882) by Darío Regoyos is the piece chosen to start the tour through an exhibition in which there is no chronological order but jumps that have beauty as a thread through sculptures, ceramics, chairs, trunks, religious objects or jewels.

Two floral still lifes by Gabriel de la Corte, which have arrived directly from the Balenciaga exhibition in the Thyssen museum, are surrounded by half a dozen dishes made in Manises, Muel, Catalonia and Seville. A colorful canvas by Francisco Pradilla, Cardholder of my study (1916) has as neighbors several desks, chairs and a trunk of Mexican origin. The curators confess that in many cases the works are classified but not documented because the collector has been buying them, since the 70s, in almonedas, auctions and antique dealers both in Spain and in the rest of Europe.

Mary Magdalene Penitent. Castile (1560-1580).

Mary Magdalene Penitent. Castile (1560-1580).

The sculptures occupy an important part in the exhibition. Of different sizes, it seems clear that some come from large groups of which, over time, have been torn apart. The collector points out as a favorite piece a San Jerónimo carved in wood, probably from the mid-16th century that he acquired at auction. Another of his favorite objects is a baroque silver chalice by Juan de Astorga, of which only three specimens exist in the world. According to the curators, the other two are exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and at the National Archeology, where they paid 100,000 euros in 2008 for their copy. Gernstenmaier doesn't remember what he paid for his. A third piece that excites you especially is Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, a polychrome wood relief from the mid-16th century.

Allegory of Africa. Mechelen (Belgium). XVII century.

Allegory of Africa. Mechelen (Belgium). XVII century.

Around The camel driver (around 1865), by Mariano Fortuny, the dialogue revolves around small pieces such as an enameled sculpture of penitent Mary Magdalene that could serve as an ornament in some piece of furniture in a female bedroom, according to the historian Carolina Naya. A glass reliquary adorned with precious stones and a set of brotherhood plates with devotion cards, complete the route of the exhibition.

Hans Rudolf Gernstenmaier replies laughing that he does not miss all these pieces at home because he knows they will return. It does not answer the question of whether there is a donation in the making like that of the 11 paintings that this summer made for the Prado Museum. For now and while thinking about it, he will continue to make his collection known. The next exhibition will be at the Goya Museum in Zaragoza, next Monday, November 11 with a selection of his flamenco paintings that will be exhibited under the title of From Rubens to Van Dyck.

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