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Thursday, 27 June 2013

Australian Impressionists in France - right here in Melbourne!

What a surprise!
What an exhibition!
In my opinion it leaves the current NGV Winter Masterpieces blockbuster Monet's Garden for dead! (see my post 21 May). But then I'm not an art connoiseur - far from it! I just enjoyed it more. And the feedback from the 'desk' at the Gallery is that the response has been much the same from those who have gone. What a pity it is not well publicised because it deserves to do well. And what a pity there wasn't a combined Monet's Garden and Australian Impressionists ticket offered.

You'll see some familiar paintings and some that have travelled a great distance - from the UK and from Paris and the States to name just a few. And the marvellous thing is that the Australian Impressionists exhibition is not crowded - sadly. You'll be proud to be an Australian. It features Australian artists of the late 19th and 20th centuries who spent time in France.
The green parasol 1912 - E. Phillips Fox (NGV)
As Auguste Rodin wrote to the artist John Russell "I rank you high in my estimation as a painter and you owe it to yourself to do likewise". Not a bad endorsement! And the bronze bust Rodin did of Russell's wife Madame Marianna Russell is beautiful. Sadly as would be expected photographs weren't allowed and the website features some of the less interesting and inspiring works.
Peonies and head of a woman (c. 1887) - John Russell  (NGV)

As it says on the NGV website: Claude Monet demonstrated his Impressionist technique to John Russell; Charles Conder trawled the cabarets of Montmartre with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; and Vincent van Gogh considered Russell a friend. In France, Australian artists engaged in personal and artistic exchanges with artists from around the world. 

Through the inclusion of key works by French, British and American artists the exhibition also places the Australians’ work within an international context of Impressionist art. 

Look for the Charles Condor painting owned by our own Barry Humphries (he collects Condors!) And look for a very special painting by Sir Hans Heysen (not his usual iconic gum trees) but the boulevard in Paris. For me this was the standout painting (small) in the exhibition. I didn't even know that Heysen went to Paris. And of course I can't find it on the NGV website or even on Google to share with you. 
Mrs Conder in pink c.1901 - Charles Condor (NGV)
Sit down between galleries, put on the earphones and listen to letters written by Vincent Van Gough to John Russell. Listen to what E Phillips Fox wrote to Hans Heysen and to Charles Condor's letters to John Roberts. There was a fascinating formality even between friends at that time.  

So get thee to the exhibition sooner rather than later. Me thinks that this will take off when word of mouth gets around! It runs at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square until 6 October 2013 (closed Mondays).

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