Exhibition: Degas to Dalí at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, New Zealand

Louis-Eugène Boudin, 1874, The Port of Bordeaux. Oil on canvas, 40 cm x 65.40 cm. © National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh.
Louis-Eugène Boudin, 1874, The Port of Bordeaux. Oil on canvas, 40 cm x 65.40 cm. © National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh – on show at the Degas to Dalí exhibition, Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand.

On show in Auckland, New Zealand, during the first half of 2012 is an amazing collection of masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland. In all 79 of some of the finest paintings, sculptures and prints by 62 different artists, representing ground breaking developments in the story of Western art over the last hundred or so years, have travelled around the World to the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. And included in this exhibition, entitled Degas to Dalí, are some remarkable examples of French impressionism. These impressionists take their rightful place in an exhibition that begins in the 1860s with realism, and leads the visitor from one major art movement to the next ending in the mid twentieth century with pop art and op art.

The impressionists are well represented in the line up, with some trusted favourites such as Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro (see bellow) and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It is good to see that Louis-Eugene Boudin, one of the lessor known French impressionists but no less interesting in my view, features with his painting of the port of Bordeaux (see above). Georges Seurat, normally associated with post-impressionism, is situated firmly in the impressionist camp here with his wonderful, small (only 15.90cm x 25.00 cm) oil sketch of a man bathing a horse in the Seine River. This is one of the thirteen sketches Seurat created in preparation for his more well known painting in London’s National Gallery, ‘The Bathers, Asnières’. Interestingly, there are nine works by Edgar Degas, including bronzes, pastel and pencil drawings as well as a few paintings – some of which reveal his fascination for dancers.

But this group of impressionist works are only part of a story, from Degas to Dalí. The various works are set out chronologically, so it is quite clear to see the development of artistic traditions in the West over the 100 or so years presented in the show. Not only are the developing artistic conventions clearly illustrated by the works on display, but these particular pieces also bear witness to changing social and political times from the mid nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century. Artists from Europe and the UK dominate the collection, but there are works form Japan and the US included.

The Degas to Dalí exhibition, the first major show at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki since their re-development was completed last year, and runs from 3 March to 10 June 2012. A catalogue has produced to accompany the exhibition, but at this stage this appears to be available only at the gallery shop. According to the gallery’s website, the exhibition will not be on show anywhere else. Sadly then, if you do not live in New Zealand there is no point waiting, so you might as well book a holiday in Auckland!

Camille Pissarro, 1874, Kitchen Gardens at L'Hermitage, Pontoise. Oil on canvas, 54 cm x 65.10 cm. © National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
Camille Pissarro, 1874, Kitchen Gardens at L’Hermitage, Pontoise. Oil on canvas, 54 cm x 65.10 cm. © National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh – another impressionist painting in the Degas to Dalí exhibition, Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand.

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