Monday, September 26, 2011

From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection

Where: National Gallery of Art, West Building

When: through January 2, 2012

I had some extra time one morning last week, and decided to see this exhibit, as it's too large to see in a lunch hour.  I'm under the impression (although I can't remember where I read this, so take this with a grain of salt) that the National Gallery decided to put on this exhibit when they realized that their renovation of several of the galleries on the upper floor would necessitate the removal of many of these works.  Rather than deprive visitors of the opportunity to see them, they made them into a show - lemonade out of lemons - and at a much lesser cost than putting up a show with items borrowed from another museum.

This is the first special exhibit of these works since their official unveiling in 1965.  Under the terms of the gift, they are never lent to other museums.  A shame, really, as there are many people who are not able to travel to DC, and so have no opportunity to see them.  I know how much I enjoy seeing works from other museums, especially those that I'm unlikely to visit.

Some of the pieces that caught my eye are:
  • Saint Sebastian by Redon - far less blood-thirsty than the Ter Brugghen that I saw several months ago
  • The Lovers by Picasso - his early work is not much like his cubist offerings - I prefer this, as did the Dales, as there is lots of Picasso in the exhibit, but very little cubism
  • The Old Musician by Manet - this was nearly lost in an ocean crossing; the ship on which it was traveling collided with another vessel and almost sank 
  • Palazzo da Mula, Venice by Monet - a lovely, watery scene - you feel as if you're in the painting, perhaps in a boat on the water yourself, there are several Monets in the show - his ability to paint water is amazing
  • Portrait of a Young Woman in White by the circle of Jacques Louis David - for some reason, this painting always reminds me of Jane Bennett, from Pride and Prejudice, although she would never had been painted in such an immodest gown
  • The Plumed Hat by Matisse - this was a painting attacked by the mad woman who went after the Gaugin painting - happily, it's none the worse for wear - can't understand why anyone would object to this piece - it's simply a painting of a woman wearing a hat - no nudity, no licentiousness, nothing 
Verdict: Do go see this show - it's large enough to have something for everybody.  If you're using your lunch hour, you'll need several to see everything.

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