Because of renovations in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, part of its collection is travelling around. That was a good opportunity for the Gemeentemuseum to combine some of these works with a few other loans and with paintings of its own collection of the period 1885-1914.
The exhibition Colour Unleashed aims to show the influence of French impressionist and postimpressionist painting on Belgian and Dutch painters in the way of using bright colours. It results in a very colourful show indeed, starting with some founding fathers of modernism like Monet,
artistic patriarchs like Cézanne and Van Gogh and their artistic sons like
Matisse and Van Dongen (clearly this is one of the less colourful paintings).
A restoration project has been linked to the exhibition and so this Mondrian has been cleaned and looks very fresh now.
This both intimate and monumental scene by the young James Ensor is present as well, as is
one of my favourites, this portrait by Van Rysselberghe.
Another great favourite from Antwerp is of course this Ensor, which is exhibited
in the same room as this much lesser known but very interesting work by Paerels.
This amazingly brilliant Sluijters has been cleaned and restored too.
Van Heemskerck is one of the very few female artists in the exhibition.
Of course the Gemeentemuseum’s own Red Cloud by Mondrian can’t be absent.
Great and nice surprise is that one room is completely dedicated to one of the greatest Flemish painters of the period: Rik Wouters.
There are two more paintings by Wouters in the next room, one of them is this self portrait.
But the surprises may also be small like this landscape by Berg.
There are more paintings by Gestel on show, this is one of them.
In the same room is this somewhat Kandinskyesque Sluijters.
To complete the story there is a mixture of paintings and other items on show in the cabinets. Like this rare autochrome original from the early history of colour photography, or
this letter of Georges Lemmen to Jan Toorop.
There are, amongst many other different items, this strangely romantic painting,
this late impressionist one,
this exquisite chalk drawing,
this small panel and
this reminder of how the colourful modernist dream changed into Europe’s first horrible trauma of the new age. Let’s hope it is not a bad omen in this otherwise wonderful autumn show.
[Click on the pictures to enlarge]