Writing this post makes me so happy. So very happy. Expressionism. Van Gogh. Kandinsky. And my favorite, Cézanne. They’re all in one room at LACMA’s exhibition Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky. This era is what put me into royal post graduate debt and I really did not care one bit. I lived vicariously through these paintings with every turn of my art history text book page. The hunger to learn more led me to work for modern art museums, where I was surrounded by these beautiful pieces every day. Something magical happens inside of me when I’m in the presence of these works. My son often asks me about movies or TV shows from the last twenty years, and is often shocked to hear that I have not seen most of them. I tell him “No, son. Mom watched still movies made of oils instead.” I mean, look at this Cézanne. I can stare at this painting forever and see something new every single time.
From Van Gogh to Kandinsky brings together the extraordinary contributions of artists from France and Germany – key players in the modern art movement. The exhibition illustrates that artists during this time were unified in many ways and not constrained by their borders. I love how each gallery offers insight into how the visual arts are conveyed between cultures. During the 1900s, Berlin was the center of the country’s financial core as a culturally rich metropolis where different cultures engaged. They were artistically progressive and demonstrated an appreciation for the contribution made by French artists. During the same time, Paris had a dynamic, very avant-garde art scene, which attracted many German artists, gallerists and collectors. The city welcomed many of these new artists and exhibited their work in many shows as well.
What I love most about Expressionism is that it fills the vision field with beautiful colors and brushstrokes. Your eyes are forced to dance around the canvas. A delight you will find when gazing at the work of Van Gogh, who we can say is more like a father of the Expressionist movement. Take a look at the movement in the sky and trees in The Poplars at Saint-Remy and tell me there isn’t a dance. I can almost hear the wind blow.
I can go on and on as the show covers other topics, such as Fauves, Brücke, Cubism and then finally WWI – A time of cultural transformation.
Before I end this post, I leave you with the pioneer of abstract art, Kandinsky, who took expression to a whole new level with non-representational properties of color and form.
Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky is on view until September 14th. It’s a must-see and is set up with four dramatically different themes with a pathway that includes a variety of different colors, materials and with day lighting to enhance the works.
(Pictures c/o of LACMA)