Verona’s treasures: Post-Impressionism in Europe
Until the 15th of March 2016, Pallazo della Gran Guardia in Verona is hosting, as a European premiere, an exhibition Seurat, Van Gogh, Mondrian. Post-Impressionism in Europe. The exhibition consists of over 70 masterpieces from the collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum of Otterlo, Netherlands, which has the second largest collection of paintings of Van Gogh in the world, and also has a rich collection of many other Dutch, Belgian and French painters. Helene Kröller-Müller, a renowned art collector and the founder of the museum, has purchased many important artworks and was one of the first to recognize the genius of Vincent Van Gogh.
Another important figure in the museum’s collection is French painter Georges Seurat, who, being interested in the optic physics, rediscovered Impressionism in a scientific way, by reflecting on the canvas the image captured by the eye’s retina. Seurat was the main figure of divisionism, a movement that tried to get maximum brightness by combining pure colours, with small brush strokes, often as small as tiny points, which is why this style is also known as pointillism.
Within a few decades, this trend has evolved further, leading to the birth of abstractionism. One of the main representatives of the latter trend was Piet Mondrian, who aimed to capture the immutable reality of things, creating a series of paintings composed of black horizontal and vertical lines, combined with blue, red, and yellow rectangles.
Apart from the most famous representatives of this trend, the exhibition gives us an opportunity to get acquainted with less known, but nevertheless important in terms of this style, Dutch, Belgian, and French painters, such as Theo Van Rysselberghe, Johan Thorn Prikker, Jan Toorop, Henry Van de Velde, Georges Lemmen, Maximilien Luce, and others, who have made an important contribution to the heritage of masterpieces pertaining to this trend.
All paintings presented at the exhibition have one common feature – high qualitative level, as Helene Kröller-Müller has formed her collection not as a private one, based on her personal taste, but considering the factor of timelessness of the works of art.
Some of the exhibited paintings that are really worth mentioning are one of the 25 self-portraits of Vincent Van Gogh created while living in Paris that was painted on a piece of inexpensive cardboard, without the painter’s signature, which witnesses it being not a completed painting but rather a sketch for experimenting with complementing colours.
Another interesting piece is View of a Scullery with Coal Box by Hendricus Petrus Bremmer executed in incredibly tiny points that was often used by him in his nature morte paintings. Bremmer was more renowned as a lecturer and consultant of art than a painter. For him, painting was kind of a hobby.
The exhibition also features one of the most famous, if not the most famous, works of Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. In the process of creation of this painting, Seurat focused meticulously on the landscape of the park, concentrated on the the issues of light, colour and the form.
Speaking of the period in general, the demand for increasingly brilliant paint colours stimulated the chemical industry, resulting in the creation and marketing of many new synthetic pigments, like zinc yellow or cobalt violet. The Neo-Impressionists enthusiastically welcomed these new artificial colours, as they were more “saturated” than the traditional ones and allowed painters to better reflect, among other things, the range of the spectrum of sunlight.
Integration of digital technologies enabled organizers of the exhibition to create a special space, where every person entering the dedicated area could see his/her image reflected on the screen in the pointillism style. A very interesting experience that could be immediately shared on the exhibition’s Instagram page, adding a special hashtag: #postimpressionismo.
The bust of bright colours of the exhibition contrasts strongly with the cold winter season and will definitely warm your heart even on a grey rainy day, apart from being very educative.