Yesterday we went to the de Young museum in San Francisco to see the current exhibition, "Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne & Beyond." I can't even remember the last time I saw a really great collection. Anyway, a museum day like this was long overdue, and we weren't disappointed. We saw some new (to us) Van Gogh paintings, which was a thrill of course. Rob & I have both been to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, but since Van Gogh is Rob's favorite artist, he was pretty excited to see some more of his original paintings. We especially liked a still life he did of a simple vase full of flowers. The flowers were diaphanous orange, just glowing. The painting was an inspiration.
My favorite artist is Gauguin, I love his Tahitian landscapes and his other Tahitian studies. Although his collection on exhibit was not especially broad, it was still exceptional to get to look at the very paintings he painted while he was there. A couple of his Tahitian paintings were there, which was cool. I might like his Tahitian landscapes best of all though, and there weren't many of those there at all, if any. I liked how Gauguin used unusual colors, it gives some of his paintings a somewhat surreal effect.
What a life these paintings have led too, being shipped from city to city around the globe for the last 100 years or so. One my favorite things I learned from this exhibit was that Van Gogh and Gauguin spent about 9 months working together in the South of France near Arles. I knew that they were contemporaries, but I had no idea that they'd actually spent time together, working together. I'd like to learn more about their friendship, what that time was like, and maybe about how they inspired each other (or drove each other crazy.) Either way, I wonder so much about what that time must have been like.
Many other French impressionists and post-impressionists were included, including Pierre Bonnard, who, strangely enough, was the artist I was assigned to do a presentation on in French in my art history class when I was studying abroad in France. He had some really cool paintings which were large enough to adorn an entire wall. I read that he wanted to expand people's notion of art, and wanted to go beyond the traditional sized canvas and paint larger and smaller works. I guess he also liked painting furniture and other items that people didn't necessarily associate with art or painting mediums.
Renoir was also included in the collection (I'm not a big fan), and a Degas of a ballerina running up the steps toward ballet class.
Cezanne had a series of landscapes included in the collection too. They were dreamy, colorful depictions of the South of France near Aix-en-Provence. When I was back in France in the summer of 2000, I went to his atelier in Aix-en-Provence to see where he painted. It was such a sublime setting, nestled amongst lavendar and sunflower fields. It was a wondrous feeling to think that I was looking out at the same vistas that he saw when he painted those beautiful paintings.
We ended our day in San Francisco by going to Yummy Yummy's in the Sunset district for some steaming bowls of pho. It was a special day. I felt lucky to have lived this day.
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