Byline: Holly Haber
Art lovers take note: The roots of modernism are on display at the Kimbell Museum, which has the honor of being the only U.S. venue for an exhibition of 81 paintings from the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris.
Until recently, “You couldn’t [see] the diversity and richness of these works any other way than by going to Paris,” asserted Timothy Potts, director of the Kimbell. “The Orangerie is one of the great artistic treasures of that city.”
The 81 paintings on display are by masters of late 19th- and early 20th-century art, including still lifes and landscapes by Paul Cezanne, lifestyle portraits by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, enormous neoclassical nudes by Pablo Picasso and vivid scenes by Henri Matisse.
The collection was assembled by Paris art dealer Paul Guillaume, who was a contemporary of the artists and staged the first-ever showing of works by Matisse and Picasso in 1918.
“Guillaume was one of the most perceptive dealers of his day and a proponent of putting modern art in museums when it was to many people almost a blasphemy,” Potts noted.
The collection left Paris for an international tour because the Orangerie, located on the Place de la Concorde, adjacent to the Louvre, is undergoing renovation and expansion. Remaining at the museum is Claude Monet’s famous “Water Lilies,” series, which could not be moved because the artist, fearing museum officials might relegate his work to the basement, had stipulated that they be glued to the walls.
The collection has already been seen in Japan, Taiwan and Canada and will travel to Australia after it closes here on Feb. 25.