Friday, October 28, 2016

‘Icons of Modern Art’: Picassos, Matisses, Monets, Oh, My!

by Jason Farago

New York Times

October 28, 2016

The history of collecting, the development of painterly style, the changing fortunes of individuals and nations: You will think about all these things on your second go-through of “Icons of Modern Art: The Shchukin Collection,” which opened last week at the Fondation Louis Vuitton here.

Your first visit will probably elicit another, less intellectual reaction: dumbstruck awe.

This titanic exhibition assembles 127 works of French painting — by Monet, van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso and many more artists on the Modernist hit parade — that belonged to the Russian textile magnate Sergei Shchukin (1854–1936).

He acquired them in a concentrated buying spree of just 15 years, and displayed his collection in a palace in Moscow — capped by “Dance” and “Music,” the monumental panels that stand among Matisse’s boldest works. By 1918, though, Lenin was in the Kremlin, Shchukin had gone into exile, and the collection was nationalized and dispersed; some works ended up in Siberia. The group’s partial reassembly here amounts to the blockbuster of blockbusters, and a welcome coda features works by Kazimir Malevich, Aleksandr Rodchenko and other artists whose study of Shchukin’s French pictures was decisive for the development of the Russian avant-garde.


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