Manet, Degas, Monet, Cézanne, van Gogh, Gauguin
s collection of French painting contains works by some of the greatest figures in art, just as it covers one of the most hectic epochs in art history. With over 200 works the exhibition displays the artistic diversity which developed in France in the years 1800-1950. Through a reverse chronology presentation of famous masterpieces and rarely seen major works the exhibition presents a visual narrative of 150 years of art, all of it suffused with intensity and invention.
The Art Epicentre
From the Romantic Period up to the Second World War France was the meeting point for the most innovative vanguard of artists. The accelerating modernity and cultural broad-mindedness of Paris as well as the attraction of rural settings in the provinces was the perfect climate for the most pioneering European avant-garde. French Painting bears witness to the fact that art in this period was, at times, a savage quest for originality. These artists were driven by a powerful impulse not merely to keep pace with, but also to be able to anticipate and create the expression and form of the time.
The Familiar and the Less Well Known
French Painting is, to date, the most comprehensive and ambitious display of the Glyptoteks collection of French painting, in the same spirit it also focuses on a number of drawings and small sculptures. Besides artists and works which are more or less synonymous with the Glyptotek, it is also our ambition to present more from the museums extensive collection. Works by such artists as Giacometti, Max Ernst, Serge Poliakoff and Victor Vasarely have been added so that, in a more fulfilling way, the museum can reveal the range spanned by French art from the idealised painterly expression with its considerable wealth of detail to a freer, experimental expression.
However, the development is far from linear and the art runs rings around itself. The artists typically worked outside art historical categories. They moved in and out of the various groups, drew inspiration from their travels and, all in all, worked more dynamically and unpredictably.
The exhibition extends over three floors and juxtaposes artists, genres and techniques with chronology as the governing principle. It is, in fact, the chronology which briefly liberates painting from the constraints of being too closely associated with certain styles and has it assume the foreground as painting first and foremost. To further underline the free approach of the artists the exhibition is arranged according to a reverse chronology. Far from standing as a natural final destination, the modern painting of the 20th century becomes an introduction to a reversed stroll through the art of painting from the 19th century.