April 14, 2012

Art history for beginners

The recently completely refurbished and extended Auckland Art Gallery has now more space for larger temporary exhibitions and the first one is called "Degas to Dali".
It is a walk through 19th and 20th Century art movements at lightning speed with a series of very lovely (and to me) unknown single works - both paintings and and a smattering sculpture of most major artists one encounters in art history class. Several would be worth hanging on my wall and I wouldn't mind having to look at them every day. Others not so much, as you would expect - the Joan Miro and the Rene Magritte paintings, for example, were very disappointing choices.
All major art periods and schools are represented by their major artists, although not by their major work. The Auckland Art Gallery is being a bit naughty for only listing the artists on their site and not the individual work titles on show has the full list of works here.

Overall, "Degas to Dali" is less a curated/visionary exhibit than an educational effort. Since all works come from the National Gallery in Scotland some strange anomalies like the "Scottish Colourists" are included, the weakest section of the lot - although one of them, Sir William Nicholson "The Lustre Bowl" was one of my favourite pictures (so dark! so hard!):


Here are some of my other favourites:

Lucian Freud "Two Men Sleeping". An impressive rendering of the skin tones and textures.

Nicholas de Stael "Le Bateau". Lovely colouring and much darker than the photograph.

There were two Belgian surrealists in the collection, Rene Magritte with a dark, brooding war theme; and the ever hilariously funny Paul Delvaux (who usually forces any exhibit of his work to have an R18 rating) with - a particular obsession of mine (trams) - "La rue due Tramway".

My #2 top painting is Gustave Courbet "The Wave". Very Japanese-inspired but unmistakeably a north-west European scene.

My favourite is a tiny painting, done as a study, but it's full of atmosphere. The photograph doesn't do the piece any justice as the colours in the real picture are far warmer. Georges Seurat "Study for Une Baignade".

The exhibition runs until 10 June and a day pass costs $20.

1 comment:

zij said...

Hans, thank you for sharing these pictures together with an ever enlightning comment of yours.
Have a nice stay in Berlin.
Your for-ever-friend Martine