Shakespeare is German
William Shakespeare is almost as significant a figure in German as in British culture. From 7 October to January 2011, London's Goethe-Institut - together with the Globe Theatre and the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London - is presenting a festival of talks, readings, screenings and discussions under the title Shakespeare is German. Actor and director Norbert Kentrup will argue the contentious thesis that "Shakespeare is much better in German". The season will also feature the launch of the first bilingual edition of J.W. Goethe's two celebrated essays on the Bard. Other highlights will include a cinematic version of The Merchant of Venice from 1923 and Herbert Fritsch presenting his multimedia Hamlet X (2003), which carved the text into 111 individual sections and turned them into short films.
Bronzino: Artist and Poet at the Court of the Medici
Agnolo di Cosimo Tori, generally known as Bronzino (1503-72), was one of the greatest painters of the 16th century. Apprenticed in the workshop of Jacopo da Pontormo, he eventually became celebrated both for his sacred works and for his official portraits of the Medicis. An exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Bronzino: Artist and Poet at the Court of the Medici (until 23 January 2011), offers a rare overview of his career and brings together the masterpieces held by collections in Budapest, Los Angeles and St Petersburg, as well as the nearby Uffizi. Also included in the exhibition is the celebrated painting Crucified Christ (1540-41), which has only recently been reattributed to Bronzino.
Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-75), the poet, novelist and film director, was one of the most controversial figures of postwar Italian culture. Among his most celebrated films is Teorema (1968), in which a charismatic stranger played by Terence Stamp enters the family of a Milanese industrialist, sleeps with them all in turn and then leaves them to face up to the intense feelings simmering below the surface of their materialistic lives. This powerful drama of bourgeois hypocrisy and sexual and religious awakening has been turned into T.E.O.R.E.M.A.T., a new play by the Polish theatre company TR Warszawa. Written and directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna, it unfolds in a series of dreamlike tableaux as the characters confront the emptiness of their lives. Recently seen in Dublin, it will be shown at London's Barbican Theatre from 14 to 17 October.
Amazonia, a multimedia exhibition at London's Natural History Museum until 12 December, arises out of an expedition to the Peruvian rainforest by Paris-based artists Lucy and Jorge Orta. While assisting scientists at the Manú Biosphere Reserve in collecting plants and data, they also recorded their impressions using video and audio. Along with drawings from their sketchbook, they have created larger-than-life aluminium sculptures based on the museum's collection of dinosaur bones; an interactive installation featuring plant and animal images from different sections of the rainforest; a "fluvial intervention unit" in which hundreds of tiny creatures are kept alive in a 5m Indonesian pirogue; and a two-screen video projection of the expedition accompanied by a poem recited by eco-poet Mario Petrucci.
Chaos and Classicism
Across Europe, after the horrors of the First World War there was a reaction against the fragmented avant-garde styles such as Cubism, Futurism and Expressionism that had dominated early 20th-century art. In their place came a "return to order", clean lines and the representation of the human figure. Although this undoubtedly had its dark side - Mussolini, after all, was keen to revive classicism - powerful examples of this interwar aesthetic can be found in painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, film, fashion and the decorative arts. A major exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy and Germany, 1918-1936 (until 9 January 2011), provides an overview of this movement and includes work by Balthus and Picasso.