PORTLAND ART MUSEUM AND SEATTLE ART MUSEUM PRESENT MAJOR EXHIBITION OF MASTERPIECES DRAWN FROM THE PAUL G. ALLEN FAMILY COLLECTION
Exhibition Features Iconic Landscapes by Turner, Monet, Van Gogh, Hopper, O’Keeffe and more
April 23, 2014 – Seattle, WA and Portland, OR – The Seattle Art Museum and the Portland Art Museum today announced a major exhibition exploring the evolution of European and American landscape painting. Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection will feature some 40 paintings from five centuries of masterpieces drawn from the collection of Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen.
“This is a rare opportunity for the public to see these landscape masterpieces from Paul Allen’s extraordinary collection,” said Kimerly Rorschach, the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO of the Seattle Art Museum. “It is especially meaningful here in Mr. Allen’s hometown of Seattle where his generous support of the arts has made a significant impact.”
The exhibition – which is being co-organized by the Seattle Art Museum, the Portland Art Museum and the Paul G. Allen Family Collection – will premiere at the Portland Art Museum in October 2015 and will conclude in Seattle in early 2017 at the Seattle Art Museum. The exhibition will also travel to The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
“Paul Allen is one of the Northwest’s most significant art collectors and philanthropists,” said Brian Ferriso, The Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Director of the Portland Art Museum. “His willingness to share his landscape masterpieces with our visitors continues his exceptional generosity and is a wonderful opportunity to be inspired by works of art that reflect his personal vision.”
Seeing Nature explores the development of landscape painting from a small window on the world to expressions of artists’ experiences with their surroundings on land and sea. The exhibition begins with Jan Brueghel the Younger’s allegorical series of the five senses. These exquisite, highly detailed paintings provide a platform for visitors to explore the exhibition by considering their own experience with the world through sight, touch, smell, sound and taste.
The next section of the exhibition demonstrates the power of landscape to locate the viewer in time and place—to record, explore, and understand the natural and man-made world. Artists began to interpret the specifics of a picturesque city, a parcel of land, or dramatic natural phenomena. Venice, one of Paul Allen’s favorite cities, also attracted many artists from outside Italy; his collection features a stunning group of evocative Venetian scenes by Canaletto, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, and J.M.W. Turner, among others.
In the 19th century, the early Impressionists focused on direct observation of nature. The Allen collection is particularly strong in the works of Monet, who embodied this practice, drawing Paul Cézanne’s famous comment, “Monet is only an eye, but my God, what an eye.” Five great Monet landscapes spanning thirty years are featured, from views of the French countryside to one of his late immersive representations of water lilies, Le Bassin aux Nymphéas of 1919. Cézanne himself and fellow Post-Impressionists such as Vincent van Gogh used a more frankly subjective approach to create works such as La Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1888-90) and Orchard with Peach Trees in Blossom (1888). The exhibition also features a rare landscape masterpiece by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, Birch Forest of 1903.
“The Allen collection invites viewers to think about landscape and our place in the world through the eyes of great artists. One may focus on a familiar setting and help us see the special qualities of our everyday surroundings, while another is captivated by the overwhelming grandeur of an extraordinary site like the Grand Canyon,” says Chiyo Ishikawa, Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Seattle Art Museum.
The last part of the exhibition explores the paintings of European and American artists working in the complexity of the 20th century. In highly individualized ways, artists as diverse as Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, David Hockney, Gerhard Richter, and Ed Ruscha bring fresh perspectives to traditional landscape subjects.
“The final section of the exhibition exposes the diversity of artists’ use of the landscape genre from psychological dreamscape to the basis of formal theoretical trope,” said Bruce Guenther, Chief Curator and the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Portland Art Museum, and the curator of the exhibition.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color, hard-bound publication documenting the featured works with essays by Chiyo Ishikawa and Bruce Guenther, and descriptions of all the works by the curatorial staffs of both museums.
Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection is co-organized by Portland Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum and the Paul G. Allen Family Collection.