Friday, December 09, 2005

Van Gogh Hits Eugene Art Scene (By Bob Keefer, The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA)

(Capture Note: Vincent van Gogh's "A Woman Walking in the Garden" is one of two paintings on loan.)

Published: Thursday, December 8, 2005

Psst: Wanna see a multimillion-dollar masterpiece?

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon has quietly put on display an 1887 painting by Vincent van Gogh that sold at auction in London last summer for more than $5 million.

The painting, "Femme Dans Un Jardin" or "A Woman Walking in the Garden," was purchased by a private collector who has lent it to the Schnitzer for six months. A second European work, "Un Pin" (A Pine), painted in 1905 by Henri Edmund Cross, a lesser known French painter, is on display at the same time from a second anonymous lender.

The two works were hung in the museum's European Gallery late last month with little fanfare.

"The owners are individuals who live out of state and who share our interest in bringing some masterpieces here to Eugene," said David Turner, executive director of the art museum, who declined to further identify the lenders.

Turner, who is clearly pleased to display a big-name masterpiece at the newly renovated art museum, stood back from the two paintings and smiled.

"It's a wonder that you can stand in one spot in your local art museum now and see two great paintings from modern art history," he said.

The Van Gogh painting, enclosed in a clear plastic case for security, shows the figure of a woman holding a just-picked bouquet of flowers in a park in Paris.

It was painted a year after Van Gogh moved to Paris, three years before he died, and shows the influence of the artists he fell in with there. His circle included Paul Signac, Georges Seurat, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Emile Bernard, with whom Van Gogh often painted and who was the first owner of this particular painting.

Though it has always been in private hands, "Femme Dans Un Jardin" was shown at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris in 1988 and appears in two authoritative catalogs of Van Gogh's work.

Sotheby's description of the painting for its sale last summer calls it "a testament to the unique and imaginative style (Van Gogh) developed during his Paris years."

The top half of the painting is done in cool blue hues and is constructed in a style similar to pointillism, in which the image is made up of many separate dots of color.

The lower half of the painting, which shows a grassy foreground, is in a different, looser and more calligraphic style. The entire image is surrounded by a painted red band, which accents the bright palette the artist used and is reminiscent of Japanese work.

The Van Gogh painting made news last summer when it sold at auction at Sotheby's in London for 2.9 million pounds, about $5.3 million, going well over the auction house's presale estimate of 1.8 million to 2.6 million pounds.
Neither buyer nor seller was publicly identified.

That sale price could make the Van Gogh the most valuable object, in terms of the art auction market, in the museum, although Turner said some objects from the Schnitzer's Asian collection might be in the same range.

The Cross work, which hangs next to the Van Gogh at the Schnitzer, is a pointillist landscape showing a large tree set among several others.

Cross, who is sometimes identified as a neo-Impressionist, was a friend of Signac, the better known pointillist master.

Cross apparently painted the landscape, which is suffused with Mediterranean color, in the south of France.


link to the original posting

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon

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