Sunday, 13 December 2015

London Calling | Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art at the National Gallery

Sunday, December 13th, 2015 - 'Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art', the first major presentation of Delacroix’s art in Britain for more than 50 years, surveys his dynamic career and then moves beyond it, to assess for the first time the influence he exerted for five decades following his death until the early years of the 20th century.

'The Convulsionists of Tangiers' of 1838 (Minneapolis Institute of Art)
Few artists have had the same impact and lasting influence as Eugène Delacroix. He was the most famous and controversial French painter of the first half of the 19th century and one of the first modern masters. Each new work he exhibited was scrutinised by enthralled contemporaries including Courbet, Chassériau, and the poet and critic Charles Baudelaire. Following Delacroix’s death in 1863, generations of artists continually turned to him to find new directions for their art. Although idolised as a pioneer by artists such as Manet, Cézanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Matisse – unlike theirs, his name is not a household one today. This exhibition will give visitors the opportunity to discover this revolutionary artist. It will include over 60 works borrowed from 30 major public and private collections around the world, including the Musée du Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and the Petit Palais (Paris), the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the National Gallery of Art (Washington), and the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam). More than a third of the exhibition comprises a survey of works by Delacroix himself. Highlights include such masterpieces as his 'Self Portrait' of about 1837 (Musée du Louvre, Paris); 'The Convulsionists of Tangiers' of 1838 (Minneapolis Institute of Art); 'The Death of Sardanapalus', 1846 (Philadelphia Museum of Art); 'Bathers' of 1854 (Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut); and the ferocious 'Lion Hunt' of 1861 (Art Institute of Chicago). Half the exhibition comprises works by artists of later generations who also fell under the impact of Delacroix’s achievement. Chassériau’s art in particular would not have been possible without the example of the older master. Among the masterpieces are Bazille’s rarely seen 'La Toilette' (Musée Fabre, Montpellier), Van Gogh’s 'Pietà' (after Delacroix) (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), 'Olive Trees' (Minneapolis Institute of Art), Cézanne’s 'Battle of Love' (National Gallery of Art, Washington), 'Apotheosis of Delacroix' (Musée d’Orsay, Paris), and Matisse’s Study for ‘Luxe, calme et volupté’ (Museum of Modern Art, New York). The exhibition ends with Kandinsky’s 'Study for Improvisation V' of 1910 (Minneapolis Institute of Art), arguing for a direct line of descent extending from the Romantic master to the origins of abstraction.

The exhibition is totally must-see for everyone.

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