This is the third iteration of an exhibition which has arrived from Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati via the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh. It’s easy enough to imagine the conversations as it was planned. Who’s going to turn up to see why the apparently conventional landscapes of Charles-François Daubigny (1817-78), a member of the Barbizon school who was rich and famous in the nineteenth century but little-recognised now, should return to the artistic summit? Not many: we’d better include some other artists – perhaps the most bankable possible. How about the title? ‘Daubigny in his Times’? I guess not. ‘Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape’? That will do nicely…
|Daubigny: Banks of the Oise, 1859|
|Daubigny, Cliffs at Villerville-sur-Mer, 1872|
On the ground floor, we see Monet (and also Pissarro) through the lenses of their awareness of Daubigny. There is read-across from the older artist in terms of subject matter and approach as their views of the same places – notably Villerville on the Normandy costs - are hung side by side. Daubigny was also a practical forerunner: Monet is famous for using a studio boat to enable him to paint comfortably in plein air and depict the riverscape as from mid-stream.
|Monet: Monet's studio-boat, 1874|
Daubigny was there earlier, one of the first to paint outside (exploiting the new availability of paint in tubes) and using a bigger boat – its dimensions are reconstructed in the exhibition – with a similar idea.
|Daubigny: Apple Blossoms, 1873|
|Monet: Spring (Fruit Trees in Bloom), 1873|
|van Gogh: The white orchard, 1888|
|Daubigny: Moonrise at Auvers, 1877|
|van Gogh: Wheatfield under Thunderclouds, 1890 |
The Amsterdam leg comes with three features additional to its previous presentations. First, unsurprisingly, more paintings by Van Gogh. Second, a gimmicky-sounding exhibition design which is actually implemented sensitively enough not to intrude: there are wall-sized videos of contemporary river scenes; the ground floor walls are painted in gloss and matt blues which suggest a waterline such that the paintings – as well as the boat - could be afloat; and the upstairs floor walls are coloured to suggest a sunset, in line with another subject covered by all three artists. Third, there’s a bonus room bringing together the Van Gogh Museum’s choice of French landscape drawings from its extensive collection, putting the famous three in a broader context.
Up Now In Amsterdam
London-based Dutch artist Magali Reus had a wonderful room of new work at the Stedelijk (where the big show was of Jean Tinguely). I wasn’t so impressed by Hanae Wilke at Ornis A, apart from how close she was to being the better known Hannah Wilke. Her aesthetic seems to relate to Reus’s, though - then I noticed she, too, is from The Hague…
|Maria Banas: The Planet O, 2016|
The Tinguely show was also upstaged. On the one hand it went through the motions well enough – on the other, there was hardly any actual mechanical motion, which is his essence. That left the coast clear for a most engaging dry-ice speech-bubble poetry machine by Maria Barnas at Annet Gelink, which set off its effects as it meditated on the possible materiality of the letter ‘o’.
|Gabriel Lester: still from Murmur|
|Eva Stenram installation shot|
|Lenz Geerk: Lotion, 2016|