Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vlaminck in Paris--last days

My wife and I spent the morning at the Musée du Luxembourg, where an exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Fauvist painter Maurice Vlaminck is entering its last week. If you are in Paris or can get here by July 20, you will have a chance to see this magnificent show. The last time I had such an emotional reaction to an exhibition was probably back in 1984, when the Metropolitan Museum in New York assembled more than 200 paintings that Vincent Van Gogh produced in a manic explosion of artistic activity during a short stay in Arles.

Actually, calling Vlaminck a "Fauvist" (based on the French word "les fauves," wild beasts) is a misnomer, because the Fauvist movement (which included Matisse and Derain) lasted only a short while, and Vlaminck went onto produce many so-called post-fauvist works during his long lifetime (he died in 1958 at the age of 82.) He was greatly influenced by Van Gogh in his early years, and by Cezanne after that, but that does not diminish his originality and the passion of his painting. Usually, my wife and I manage to escape from an exhibit's bookstore with nothing more than a few postcards. But this time we walked away with the catalog, the DVD, and a beautifully framed limited edition digital reproduction of "Village au bord de la Seine" (not the one pictured here, which is "Port Marly"--so many Vlaminck paintings are in private hands that there are few images on the internet.)

If you have the chance to see this exhibition, I strongly urge you to do so. Vlaminck is an under-appreciated painter and a show like this might not come along for another 50 years. If anyone knows where it might be going next, if anywhere, please let us all know.


Karren Alenier said...

I saw the Vlaminck and Van Gogh exhibitions you mention in this post and felt exactly the way you felt. I am currently writing about the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition of work by Matisse and his contemporaries for Scene4 magazine at and that show brought me back to the Vlaminck exhibition at the Luxembourg. thanks for making your views known!

Michael Balter said...

Thanks very much for your comment, Karren, glad to hear that my very emotional reaction to these exhibits was shared by others! I will unfortunately not get to see the Philadelphia exhibit but please send a link to your article if you can.

best, Michael