Masterpieces From Paris

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3rd December 2009, 05:58pm - Views: 853


Thursday 3 December 2009

National Gallery of Australia opens exhibition of the world’s finest collection of

Post-Impressionist art … in Australia for the first time

4 December 2009 – 5 April 2010


One of the most extraordinary international art events ever held in Australia opens tomorrow at

the National Gallery of Australia, with the world premiere of Masterpieces from Paris: Van Gogh,

Gauguin, Cézanne and beyond—Post-Impressionism from the Musée d’Orsay. 

This exceptional exhibition brings together 112 of the best known works of modern art from the

Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Included are iconic works such as Vincent van Gogh’s beautiful Starry

night 1888 and Van Gogh’s bedroom at Arles 1889, Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian women 1891, Paul

Cézanne’s beloved Mount Saint-Victoire c 1890 as well as many works by Georges Seurat,

Pierre Bonnard, Claude Monet, Maurice Denis, Edouard Vuillard and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

among others.

Masterpieces from Paris is the most important exhibition ever shown at the National Gallery of

Australia. There are only a handful of Post-Impressionist works in this country, and this is the first

time this remarkable collection of masterpieces has left France together.  This truly is a unique

opportunity for Australians to see these renowned works of art in their own time and in their own

national gallery. I would like to thank the Musée d’Orsay for sharing this remarkable collection

with all Australians,” said Ron Radford AM, Director of the National Gallery of Australia. 

Masterpieces from Paris showcases the works of 33 artists from the revolutionary Post-

Impressionist movement, which occurred in France in the second half of the 19th century. 

“We are very proud that our Post-Impressionist masterpieces, the crème de la crème of the

Musée d’Orsay’s collection, can travel from Paris to Canberra, from one national capital to

another. We are pleased to have been able to work with the National Gallery of Australia and the

Australian government on this extraordinary exhibition. By collaborating and sharing French

artistic creativity with the Australian public, we are further building the connections between our

two countries,” said Guy Cogeval, President of the Musée d’Orsay.

The artists in this exhibition changed the course of modern art.  Van Gogh’s adventures with the

emotion of paint and the drama of colour have made him famous. Gauguin travelled to Brittany,

and then to Tahiti, seeking artistic renewal. Seurat devised a ‘scientific’ approach to painting,

while the rebel Cézanne’s simplification of forms (he claimed he would ‘astonish Paris with an

apple’) have made him a giant in art – then and now. 

“Many of these works are familiar to us; we see them reproduced in school textbooks, doctor’s

waiting rooms, cafes and lounge rooms. Yet when you experience the original masterpieces you

can see the artists’ choice of brushstroke, the quality of colour and the enduring power of their

techniques that are still admired a century later,” said Ron Radford 


In addition to these famous paintings, visitors will see some magnificent lesser known works such

as Vuillard’s monumental Public gardensPainted for a Parisian apartment, this multi-panelled

work rarely leaves the Musée d’Orsay.  One of the smallest paintings in the show, Portrait of

Vuillard by Bonnard, is shaped to fit around the edge of a chimney and probably hung in the

studio shared by the two artists.

“For Australians who are not familiar with the phenomenon of Post-Impressionism, it will be a

total discovery and a fantastic one. Even for the scholars who know Post-Impressionism, there

will be some surprises,” said Guy Cogeval.

In association with the exhibition, from December 2009 until April 2010, the National Gallery will

host a series of engaging and entertaining public programs including talks from the exhibition

curators, premium VIP gourmet breakfast packages, Masterpiece Masterclasses, high tea

events, film screenings and more. 

Children and families will also be able to explore the exhibition with the Let’s go! children’s trail

and special audio guides.  Visitors will also enjoy a playful, three-dimensional recreation of Van

Gogh’s bedroom at Arles in the Family Activity Room, located within the exhibition, hosting a

range of children’s activities such as drawing, storytelling and other hands-on activities related to

the works of art. 

Masterpieces from Paris is one of the most exceptional art events ever to be held in Australia.

The exhibition will be on show in Canberra only at the National Gallery of Australia from 4

December 2009 to 5 April 2010.

Thérèse Rein will officially open the exhibition at the National Gallery tonight, Thursday 3


Tickets are available to purchase online at:

Images: A selection of images from the exhibition can be downloaded via

Media enquiries:

Kirsten Downie, Head of Marketing and Communications

T: 02 6240 6643  M: 0407 523 948

Sandra Sweeney, Marketing and Communications Manager

T: 02 6240 6700  M: 0414 379 881

Nicole Tiedgen, Avviso Public Relations

T: 02 9368 7277  M: 0401 281 153

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