Apollo Magazine

Around the galleries in Geneva’s Old Town

At the intimate, dealer-led event known as Art en Vieille-Ville, everything from Old Masters to surreal photographs is on offer

Wooded Landscape Opening on to a Mountain Range (detail; c. 1600–10), Denijs van Alsloot (1570–1628) and workshop of Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568–1625). De Jonckheere at Art en Vieille-Ville

Wooded Landscape Opening on to a Mountain Range (detail; c. 1600–10), Denijs van Alsloot (1570–1628) and workshop of Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568–1625). De Jonckheere at Art en Vieille-Ville

From the April 2023 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.

Art en Vieille-Ville, Geneva

From a vantage point at the summit of La Dôle, high in the Jura mountains, Goethe looked southwards towards Lac Léman: ‘Geneva stood clear from the mist,’ he wrote. ‘There are no words to express the grandeur and beauty of this view.’ The hustle and bustle of TEFAF Maastricht concluded, this spring offers a welcome chance for dealers and collectors to take a leaf out of Goethe’s book and head for Switzerland for a breath of mountain air. From 4–6 May, Art en Vieille-Ville – an intimate, dealer-led event, now in its 16th year – returns to the galleries scattered across the medieval heart of Geneva. 

As Galerie Grand-Rue points out with its special display ‘In the Age of Goethe’, the poet was far from unusual among his contemporaries in seeking out the Swiss sublime. The exhibition focuses on a collaboration between the Swiss-born, Rome-based painter Abraham-Louis-Rodolphe Ducros (1748–1810) and the Italian engraver Giovanni Volpato (1735–1803), who, as the influx of Grand Tourists steadily grew, spied a business opportunity and banded together to produce high-quality souvenirs. But tourists were not their only clientele; the Swedish king Gustav III was among their high-powered patrons. Works on show range from prints depicting Roman ruins to Ducros’s stylish watercolours of Swiss mountain scenes. 

Vue du Panthéon à Rome, Abraham-Louis-Rodolphe Ducros and Giovanni Volpato. Galerie Grand-Rue at Art en Vieille-Ville, Geneva

Alice Frech, president of Art en Vieille-Ville, suggests that the virtue of the event lies in the fact that ‘all of the dealers are supporting each other […] Everyone is playing the same game, and this is what we need to stay strong in our city.’ Frech directs the Geneva branch of the Belgian gallery De Jonckheere, specialists in Dutch and Flemish Old Masters; their display this year includes a luminous landscape by Denijs van Alsloot, with figures painted by the workshop of Jan Brueghel the Elder. Born in Mechelen in 1570, Van Alsloot made his name in Brussels, and is today considered the first artist to use the genre of landscape to depict the countryside just beyond the gates of his adopted city. At Salomon Lilian, meanwhile, there is a fine marine scene by Willem van de Velde (1633–1707). 

A Calm, Willem van de Velde the Younger. Salomon Lilian at Art en Vieille-Ville, Geneva

More contemporary fare is to be found at the Geneva outposts of Gagosian and Pace, with the latter presenting the gestural, ethereal paintings of Kylie Manning, in which spectral figures blend into the landscapes around them. Meanwhile, homegrown Galerie Sonia Zannettacci presents a survey of works by the French photographer Marc Le Mené, including several from La Chambre mentale, a series of surreal and often comical mash-ups, with impossible figures inhabiting the same bare room, which he began in 1995 and has continued to add to ever since.

Wooded Landscape Opening on to a Mountain Range (c. 1600–10), Denijs van Alsloot (1570–1628) and workshop of Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568–1625). De Jonckheere at Art en Vieille-Ville

Gallery highlights

Black Mountain College: The Experimenters
Until 15 April
David Zwirner, London

While the majority of Zwirner’s Grafton Street gallery has been given over to Josef Albers’ chromatic experiments of the late 1940s – when he was a teacher at Black Mountain College – this smaller display considers the former Bauhaus professor as part of a cluster of gifted teachers and students at the North Carolina art school, which also included Ruth Asawa, Willem de Kooning and Ray Johnson.

The King of Beasts: An Exceptional Renaissance Gem from the Marlborough Collection
Until 9 May
Les Enluminures, New York

The lion’s-head cameo at the heart of this display is a masterpiece of Italian craftsmanship, once owned by the great gem collector George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough. But, as the gallery points out, this feline is not fearsome but peculiarly reminiscent of the Cowardly Lion from Oz; it is grouped here with a variety of pop-cultural companions.

Full of Days: Hermione Burton & Andy Holden
Until 30 April
Gallery of Everything, London

In 2017, Andy Holden – an artist perhaps still best known for stealing a rock from the Great Pyramid of Giza – came across the paint- ings of the late Hermione Burton in a charity shop. Enthralled by the record they provide of Burton’s chronic illness, Holden has now tracked down and interviewed the subjects of her works for a series of films, presented here alongside Burton’s paintings themselves.

Still from Hermione: Kingdom of the Sick (2022), Andy Holden. Gallery of Everything, London

Lynda Benglis
Until 29 April
Thomas Dane Gallery, London

Best known for her wax paintings and poured latex sculptures, Benglis was a key figure in the post-minimalist movement of the 1960s, with works that revelled in the messiness and unpredictability of their materials and emphasised the role of the artist’s body in their creation. This series of works at Thomas Dane includes egg-like structures in vivid hues of polyurethane, hung on the gallery walls, and fluid, gestural works cast in bronze.

Power Tower (2019), Lynda Benglis. Thomas Dane Gallery, London

Fairs in focus

Antica Brussels
19–23 April
Tour & Taxis, Brussels

From the makers of the long-standing Antica Namur fair comes this new boutique event in the capital, with predominantly Belgian dealers offering everything from paintings to medieval woodcarving and furniture.

Lisbon Art & Antiques Fair
5–13 May
Cordoaria Nacional, Lisbon

The largest and most prestigious fair in Portugal returns, with members of the Portuguese Antiquarians Association (APA) presenting works alongside international exhibitors and displays from local museum partners.

London Original Print Fair
30 March–2 April
Somerset House, London

After 35 years at the Royal Academy, London’s longest running art fair relocated to Somerset House last year; it remains there for a celebra- tion of printmaking that spans the centuries from the time of Dürer to the present day.

From the April 2023 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.

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