Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Thursday, June 19, 2014

LACMA - From Van Gogh to Kandinsky

Last week Mary and I went to a Members Only preview of the LACMAA’s newest exhibition: one of the most unusual I have ever seen.  Titled Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky, it chronicles the evolution of art by multiple artists who were influenced by the great Expressionists: van Gogh, Cezanne and Gaugin.

Their art, several pieces of which are in the more than 100 pieces in the collection brought color and imagination to art.  Several pieces of their work were on display and were purchased by collectors in Paris and Berlin.  Artists from several nations began to meet in Schools in those cities and discuss where they saw art going.  What emerged was a similarity of style that was eventually termed Post-Expressionism and what morphed into what we know today as Cubism.

The LACMA curator spent 10 years touring and collecting commitments from more than 40 museums and private collections in Switzerland, the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, culminating in 95 paintings and more than 45 other art pieces, which will tour for more than a year.  The display began in Zurich and moved to LACMA for this month’s opening.  Next stop is Montreal.  The excitement of setting up the exhibit is captured in an audio and visual link titled Unframed.

As we made our way through the exhibit we were as much impressed by the collection as by the story it told.  The audio tour, by the way was free: available as an App on my smart phone. The time frame, from the 1890s through the First World War, showed some of the political impact on the artists. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner for example changed the date on some of his paintings to reflect that he was still in Germany when he painted a piece.

The single criteria for being in the collection was that the artist is a recognized Master.  Rarely in one collection would you see works by the above mentioned artists as well as Wassily Kandinsky, Gabrielle Munter, Matisse, Robert Delaunay, and Paul Signac. The value of the collection if it were sold as a whole would truly be priceless.

I recently saw the movie The Monument Men.  The irony of Hitler’s stealing of major art from collections of Jews as well as from churches and museums, was his literal prosecution of many of the artists whose works are included in this collection.

In my book Harnessing a Heritage I have two chapters that discuss some of the art I have in my home.  Three of those pieces are works I inherited from my sister who had a fairly long-term relationship with a German artist, Willy Baum.  While I would be hard-pressed to categorize Willy as a Master, his works are some I like best and all demonstrate the influence of the German movement.  Two are pen and ink representative of the woodblocks in the collection and one, titled Calliope is clearly post-Expressionist.

Mary was just called for Jury Duty. That inspired me to write a Post about that process.  Join me next time and see what my mind and experience might put to paper.

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