Wonderful Exhibition: Icons of Modern Art: Louis Vuitton Foundation.

Posted by on Nov 7, 2016 in Discussion | 0 comments

Wonderful Exhibition: Icons of Modern Art: Louis Vuitton Foundation.

Why have we never heard of Sergei Ivanovich Shchukin? He assembled one of the greatest collections of modern art assembled by one man and showed great prescience,  in his recognition of new artists.  Some of these wonderful paintings are now on show at the Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris.

It must partly be because he is Russian and lived as the revolution took hold – so that his collection was ‘nationalised’ and then later broken up by Stalin and he remained unrecognised for that he had achieved for ideological reasons.  (More prosaically,  his name seems to be spelt many different ways and each variant used in the same articles about him, which probably doesn’t help non-Russians get to grips with who he is exactly). His collection  was, however, very famous around the turn of the 20th century and by bringing together paintings from the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists Cubists and Fauve schools and putting them on public display  he had a profound influence on the development of many Russian artists of that period.

Shchukin (1854-1936) was born into a family of rich industrialists and, with his brothers, built up one of the largest textile firms in pre-revolutionary Russia. All the family seemed to be gifted with artistic eyes and Shchukin was courageous enough to collect painters whose  genius he recognised but could not yet understand. The words of Alexander Benois seem particularly apt, when he called Shchukin a ‘collector hero.’

13o of the most important works in his collection has been brought  together for this exhibition at the LouisVuitton Foundation and are displayed in 14 galleries. On a practical note be prepared to queue for each stage of the exhibition and have a meal before you go as only a full lunch is available within the Foundation building itself.

Here is a quick tour of what is available in each room.

Gallery 1

This gallery has a series of self-portraits and portraits of other people (including Shchukin himself) by Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso and Derain. This room is full of surprises – I have not seen many portraits by the Impressionists before. The self-portrait by Gauguin (1848-1903) was particularly striking, disturbing in many ways. Gauguin is painted,  shaded in dark colours and looks almost dangerous. Certainly troubled. Cezanne’s  (1839-1906) gaze, painted in his forties, looks out at you directly,  strong, confident, challenging. The surprise in this room was a portrait of Benet Soler painted in 1903 by Picasso, delicate, fastidious in a palate of blue.





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