ROANOKE – Gordon Marsh, a professor of find arts at Roanoke College, composed the music for a new exhibit at the Taubman Museum of Art titled “Titian to Monet: European Paintings from Joslyn Art Museum.”
“The art of painting has been a passion of mine since childhood when I took painting lessons and saw my first major exhibition in Los Angeles,” Marsh said. “To work with experts in the world of AI-generated art on a floor-to-ceiling experience — within such a wonderful show as this one — has been both a challenge and a thrill. I’m really grateful to Taubman’s executive director, Cindy Petersen, for inviting me to collaborate!”
Most of the works in “Titian to Monet” are normally on permanent display at Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. But the Joslyn is currently undergoing an ambitious renovation and expansion, so it has generously loaned these works for a traveling exhibition. The Taubman Museum of Art is one of only two museums in the country – and the only one on the East Coast – that will display the works.
“This exhibition presents a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many to experience artwork by European masters whose work has influenced and impacted generations across the centuries and around the world,” said Cindy Petersen, executive director of the Taubman. “It is like making a trip to Europe.”
The exhibition is organized in six sections, from Devotional Art of the Early Renaissance to Realism and Impressionism in Modern Europe. Among the works on display are Rembrandt’s “Portrait of Dirck van Os” (1658), William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s “Return of Spring” (1886), Renoir’s “Young Girls at the Piano” (1889) and Monet’s “Small Country Farm at Bordighera” (1884).
Inspired by the popular “Immersive Van Gogh” traveling exhibition, the museum decided to enrich the “Titian to Monet” experience by including an immersive element. For this project, Franusich and Pochiraju animated six of the paintings so they come alive through nine projectors in a companion gallery at the Taubman. Marsh, an award-winning composer who teaches courses in theory, history and composition of music, created a composition that follows the storyline of the animations.
Marsh used a range of virtual instruments, plus music from a variety of places and time periods, to represent aspects in the paintings, then wove those elements together to create an original work of sound art that is nearly 14 minutes in length. “My original music is intended to represent the immersive experience while also elaborating on the animator’s vision for ‘narrating’ the paintings’ subject matter,” he said.
For example, Marsh’s arrangement of a popular Turkish folk song, “Tasa Verdim Yanimi,” accompanies the animation of flowers in Jean-Léon Gérôme’s “The Grief of the Pasha” (1885), which shows a Turkish ruler mourning the death of a Bengal tiger. As the flowers come to life in the animation and the scene turns fantastical, it transitions into the flowers of Maria van Oosterwyck’s exquisite “Still Life of Flowers in a Glass Vase” (1685).
Marsh considered the settings and time periods in which the paintings were created when selecting music for the immersive display. For Titian’s “Portrait of a Man of the Cornaro Family with a Falcon,” he chose a composition for three instruments by Adrian Willaert, who was master of music at St. Mark’s in Venice during Titian’s time. And although some might select Debussy as accompaniment for Monet’s “The Meadow,” Marsh noted that Debussy was still a student in 1879 when the work was painted. At that time, he said, the average Parisian would have been hearing Beethoven at concerts and operas, so Beethoven seemed a more fitting choice.
“My work is not really a ‘film score’ or an accompaniment to the experience,” he said. “The folks at the Taubman and the artists at Tech encouraged me to create something original in response to the project concept. I hope it adds an important dimension to the narrative outlined by the animators and honors the ideas of everyone at the Taubman who contributed to the quarter-hour story told.”
He also created a Spotify playlist inspired by
The exhibit will be on display from Oct. 14 to Jan. 8, 2023.
-The Salem Times-Register