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Monday, 25 January 2010

Masterpieces from Paris

I've been in work since the crack of dawn trying to finish a big submission.

Yet, the only thought running through my mind is whether I should do a day trip to Canberra for the Masterpieces from Paris exhibit at the National Gallery.

If I do go, it will probably be just a day trip - fly in and out at night.  Maybe the long weekend in March?  Decisions!  The works have travelled all the way from Paris, so why can't I travel from Melbourne, right?

Masterpieces from Paris: Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and beyond features 112 of some of the best-known works of modern art from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, one of the great museums of 19th-century art. Famous works include Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles 1889, Cézanne’s beloved Mount Saint-Victoire c 1890, Gauguin’s Tahitian women 1891, as well as many other great examples of Post-Impressionist art. A collaboration between the Musée d’Orsay and the National Gallery of Australia, this extraordinary exhibition is one of the most spectacular to come to Australia.

Masterpieces from Paris explores the dramatic changes in late 19th century European art through some of the best-known and much-reproduced paintings. Indeed many of these paintings are central to the Musée d’Orsay’s high reputation, both in France and world-wide. There are only a handful of Post-Impressionist works in Australia—including Georges Seurat’s study for Le Bec du Hoc, Grandcamp 1885 at the National Gallery of Australia—so the opportunity to create an exhibition from a single collection of such outstanding quality is rare indeed.

Post-Impressionism announces a break from Impressionism, the revolutionary movement which occurred in France in the second half of the 19th century. By the mid 1880s, artists were experimenting with even more radical ideas. Van Gogh’s intense, richly coloured surfaces communicate emotionally through the artist’s expressive manipulation of paint. Gauguin’s monumental, decorative and often exotic works stand for a new and at times brutal aesthetic directness.

Cézanne’s mastery of the genres of still-life, landscape and portraiture fulfils his own prophetic promise to ‘astonish with an apple!’ These artists encapsulate the challenges to painting and the development of a multi-faceted avant-garde at this time: Pointillism, Neo-Impressionism, Synthetism, Symbolism, School of Pont-Aven, Cloisonnism, the Nabis and Intimism.

In addition to some of the most famous painters, the exhibition includes Symbolist masterworks by artists who are now less known to a general public, but who had a profound impact on their contemporaries. Visitors will find jewel-like domestic scenes and figures, portraits of friends and family members, as well as several large decorative schemes designed for specific interiors. Masterpieces from Paris reveals cross-influences between artists, and shows the flowering of the modern movements throughout Europe. These fascinating paintings forecast the development of Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism and led also to Abstraction in the 20th century.

Text and images thanks to NGA website.


  1. Anonymous8:11 pm

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. Thank you Claudia.. Very, very sweet of you.


  3. O, I love masterpieces! Love the exhibitions! Love Van Gogh!


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