What a difference 14 years makes. The turn of the 19th century in Europe was an incredibly fruitful time, and none so much as in the visual arts. Thanks to extensive research by Los Angeles-based curator Timothy O. Benson, the exhibition Van Gogh to Kandinsky: Impressionism to Expressionism, 1900-1914, on now at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, traces in detail the decade and a half that established the history of Modern Art as we know it…
Starting with the effervescence of Paris in 1900, at the time of the Exposition Universelle, Van Gogh to Kandinsky: Impressionism to Expressionism, 1900-1914 unfolds in a series of rooms that illustrate the connections between the different people (artists, curators, philosophers) who communicated ideas and pictorial styles from place to time to exhibition to make that decade and a half among the richest periods in European history. The text panels, timelines and photographs that grace the walls of every room are incredibly clear and useful tools for situating the viewer among this fascinating time in history, but nothing compares to the power of the art itself.
This exhibition, more than any other in recent memory, unites such a large collection of treats; there are veritable world treasures on view, including seminal works you may have glimpsed on trips to New York, Paris and Berlin like Cézanne’s Apples and Biscuits, Marc’s Stables and Van Dongen’s Modkesko, Soprano Singer. Alongside the Van Goghs, Delauneys and Klees there are also gorgeous discoveries, such as Matisse’s Still Life with Oranges II (a humble little painting that really grasps all that was so special in Matisse’s approach to colour), Gauguin’s The Yellow Haystacks and Jawlensky’s Portrait of Marie Castel. The importance of the works on loan is really quite awe inspiring, and basically brings the world to Montreal.
Van Gogh to Kandinsky: Impressionism to Expressionism, 1900-1914, Until January 25, 2015
Photo credits: Vincent van Gogh, Pollard Willows at Sunset (detail), 1888. Otterio, The Netherlands, Krökker-Müller Museum, Photo Art Resource, NY; Wassily Kandisnky, Arabian Cemetery (detail), 1909, oil on cardboard. Hamburger Kunsthalle; Franz Marc, Stables, 1913, oil on canvas. New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Founding Collection. Photo The Solomon R. Guggenheim FoundationArt Resource, NY..jpg
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