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Peter Doig’s Siegfried + Poster Project Opens September 27 at Gallery Met

The renowned artist’s new exhibition of posters and paintings depicts Wagner’s archetypal hero

September 19, 2011

New York, NY (September 19, 2011) — Leading contemporary artist Peter Doig will open Siegfried + Poster Project, a new exhibition inspired by Wagner’s epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, at the Arnold & Marie Schwartz Gallery Met on September 27. The Scottish-born Doig is the third artist to create a Gallery Met show in conjunction with the Met’s Robert Lepage-directed new production of the Ring cycle. Lepage’s staging of Siegfried, in which the hero battles treacherous dwarves, a mysterious Wanderer, and the dragon Fafner to win the hand of the warrior maiden Brünnhilde, will premiere on October 27.

Doig’s work is celebrated for its vivid combinations of colors and gentle abstraction, which many critics and art lovers admire for its ability to idealize otherwise prosaic subjects. His best-known works are multi-layered landscapes, often depicting nostalgic scenes from unusual perspectives. He has been nominated for the Turner Prize, won the John Moores Foundation Prize, and has had solo exhibitions in New York, London, and throughout Europe.

Siegfried + Poster Project contains four large-scale distemper posters with images of the opera’s hero. One of Doig’s sources of inspiration for these posters was the 1924 Fritz Lang film Die Nibelungen, a German Expressionist adaptation of the same source legends Wagner used as the foundation for the Ring. The style of the posters is similar to the weekly advertisements Doig paints for his studiofilmclub, a screening series the artist co-created to bring international cinema to his hometown of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.

In addition, one large-scale painting, Siegfried & Brünnhilde, will hang inside the opera house, at the top of the stairs to the Grand Tier. The painting depicts the climax of the opera, when the hero walks through a circle of fire to awaken the sleeping warrior maiden he is destined to love.

“I was going to avoid the literal but in the end succumbed to Siegfried awakening Brünnhilde with a kiss. Listening to the music, which is so visual in so many ways, inspired me in this direction, and of course it is such a passionate scene,” said Doig, who is well aware of the passionate attachment Ring lovers have to Wagner’s masterwork. “I’m not by any means a Wagner person, so it’s a real challenge to take it in and give it an interpretation. The Ring has got such a mystique about it, and history, and people become obsessed with it. Having listened so much recently whilst painting, I am beginning to understand why.”

Doig is the third contemporary artist Gallery Met Director Dodie Kazanjian has asked to create a Ring-themed exhibition. Last season, Gallery Met presented Julie Mehretu’s Notations After the Ring and Elizabeth Peyton’s Wagner

“What’s so great when you get artists of this caliber—young, but also in their prime—is you see where their minds go in tackling a subject that maybe they haven’t thought about before,” Kazanjian said. “I’ve always admired Peter’s work—his unique ability to convey a vivid narrative in such richly satisfying visual terms. It also interested me that he is so involved with film and film history, with his studiofilmclub.”

Gallery Met, located in the south lobby of the opera house, is open to the public Mondays through Fridays from 6 p.m. to the end of the last intermission and Saturdays from noon to the end of the evening performance’s last intermission. Admission is free and no appointments are required. Gallery Met is closed on Sundays.

Robert Lepage’s new production of Siegfried will premiere October 27 with Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leading a cast that includes Gary Lehman in the title role, Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde, Gerhard Siegel as Siegfried’s adoptive father Mime, Eric Owens as Mime’s jealous brother Alberich, Patricia Bardon as the ancient goddess Erda, and Bryn Terfel as the enigmatic Wanderer. Götterdämmerung, the final installment in the Met’s new production of Der Ring des Nibelungen, opens January 27. For more information on the Met’s contemporary visual arts initiatives, which are curated by Dodie Kazanjian, please visit www.metopera.org/gallerymet.

About Gallery Met

The Arnold & Marie Schwartz Gallery Met, located in the opera house lobby’s south side, is a showcase for the contemporary works of art that reaffirms the company’s long history of relationships with major visual artists. Gallery Met, directed by Dodie Kazanjian since its inception in 2006, is made possible through an initial $1 million donation by Marie Schwartz, an Advisory Director on the Metropolitan Opera’s Board.

Gallery Met opened in September 2006 with Heroines, an exhibition of works inspired by the 2006-­07 season’s new productions. The artists represented included Cecily Brown, John Currin, Barnaby Furnas, Richard Prince, David Salle, and others. Gallery Met’s first solo exhibition, Stage Fright by Argentine artist Guillermo Kuitca, kicked off the 2007-08 season, followed by Hansel and Gretel, featuring artists from The New Yorker and the contemporary art scene.  The works, based on the Brothers Grimm story, were on display during the run of the new production of Humperdinck’s fairy tale opera.  In conjunction with the Met premiere of the Philip Glass opera Satyagraha during the 2008-2009 season, Gallery Met exhibited 18 portraits by Chuck Close of his composer friend in the exhibition Chuck Close Philip Glass 40 Years. That summer, Gallery Met presented eight portraits by Francesco Clemente in an exhibition called The Sopranos. The exhibition featured portraits of the divas who figured prominently in the Met’s 2008-09 season, with a hardcover catalog of Francesco Clemente: The Sopranos available in bookstores. Also in 2008-9, Gallery Met presented a solo exhibition by Canadian artist David Altmejd, coinciding with the premiere of John Adams’s opera Doctor Atomic, followed by the exhibition From the Met to the Met: Anselm Kiefer and Wagner’s “Ring”. In the first collaboration between the Metropolitan Opera and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wagner-inspired works by contemporary artist Anselm Kiefer were shown to coincide with the revival of Otto Schenk’s production which was making its final run at the opera house. The 2009-10 season opened with the Tosca-inspired exhibition Something About Mary, which showcased works about Mary Magdalene by 14 contemporary artists including Paul Chan, Marlene Dumas, George Condo, and John Currin. In 2010, William Kentridge’s Ad Hoc: Works for The Nose opened at Gallery Met in conjunction with the Met premiere of Shostakovich’s The Nose in a production directed by the artist. Last season, a four-artist series of works inspired by Der Ring des Nibelungen opened with Notations After the Ring by Julie Mehretu and continued with Elizabeth Peyton’s Wagner, the first Gallery Met show to extend beyond the boundaries of the gallery and into the opera house itself.