Renoir to Picasso Exhibition - NGV

11:56 20/08/01

While they are doing up the Musee De L'Orangerie, the curators decided to send the Walter-Gulliame collection on a world tour (kind of like storing your furniture at a friends place while you are painting your house.)

I've seen a couple of the paintings in another exhibition (Rembrant to Renoir), but it was good to see some more works from around the same time.

What I like to do when I go to a major exhibition is go through and look at all the paintings normally, then go through in reverse (so your can see the devolution of styles), go forward again, then go back and look at each painting really closely, finally I like to go and look at the works that I reckon are the best for longer. You can also add to this by standing one your head and looking at all the paintings, half closing your eyes to bring out the contrast and taking a sketch book to copy some of the works you like the most.

Having told you about the ways I like to view paintings in an exhibition, I think I should explain why I do this.

Up close and personal - By getting close to a painting's surface and changing your perspective (possibly by standing on your head), you can gain some clues to how the artist constructed the work. It could be as little as a single brush stoke, a bare patch of canvas or how much paint was used, but at least it does give you some insight. The natural enemies of this technique are paintings that have been framed under glass or have been covered in a smooth finish - it is also another reason why looking at reproductions of the paintings in books or other media is never as good as the real thing.

Take your time - Some of the major exhibitions have works from different galleries overseas that you would probably not be able see again together, don't rush through the exhibition or you will regret it. There are some works that actually benefit from having time spent with them - Turner's 'storm' paintings come to mind. They seem to be a big mess at first, but over time it is almost as if the storm clears somewhat and you can see the full picture.

Audience - Something that is always interesting when you go to a major exhibition is the audience it attracts. There will always be a crying kid when you visit obviously, but also there will be people who don't usually go to art galleries. If you are are a mischeivous type of person you can pretend to be an art expert and string these people along.

It is also interesting how much the audience has changed since the paintings were first exhibited in France during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Could any of the artists picture a punk or a goth looking at their work? (Picasso could have, but he's an exception.)

My favourite works in this exibition were:
Claude Monet - Weeping Willow
Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Gabrielle et Jean (looked at this one for far too long)
Paul Cezanne - Red villa in countryside
Henri Matisse - Woman with violin
Amedo Modigilani - Paul Guilliame
Chaim Soutine - Cow head & carcass
Marie Laurencin - Madame Guilliame
Andre Derain - Harelquin & some bloke in a clown suit
Pablo Picasso - Girl with tamborinne