Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Melbourne... art and conference.

This morning I woke up in Kapunda, and tonight I am sitting here in a hotel room... ready for a conference tomorrow.  It's been a long day,  but pretty good too.
The flight to Melbourne was thankfully uneventful... I sat reading a book by Marilyn French about the history of women in the world...  the young man next to me had a magazine with semi-nude women and articles about sport... it seemed rather incongruous at the time...  I wonder whether he noticed my book...

Once in Melbourne,  I decided not to waste time.  I wanted to find a charger for my computer as I'd left my own at home on the kitchen table. (I knew I'd forgotten something!)  Anyway it was my computer recharger connection (and I won't forget it again!)

I found an "apple" shop  but they didn't have one  (sold out!)  And then,  en route to the next possibility I saw a sign... one of those banners in the street... about an exhibition of "European Masters" at teh National Gallery.   I'd had in mind to get to that gallery anyway,  but that decided it.  I went to the city Visitors Information Centre  and asked about apple stores and the gallery....  not much news, except that there is an apple shop near the gallery... things were looking good!  
Then on to the touristy visitors information centre....   no they knew nothing about the exhibition... the gallery might not even be open today and they didn't know which gallery the exhibition was at anyway.  I decided to take a chance.  Ignoring the warnings about the gallery being shut,  I walked back along St Kilda Rd to where I was betting that the exhibition would be.  And I was right.  I had two hours left to see it by the time I got there, and it was absolutely wonderful.  It is a collection of paintings from the Stadel Museum in Frankfurt am Main, including works from pre-impressionsist... and on into the realists and modernists... amazing.  While one can't really have favourites in such an exhibition (or perhaps they are jsut too numerous to mention)  I was amazed to see a real Cezanne (one of my favourite artists)...  several pre-impressionist landscapes that are so subtle and beautiful (you can see how the impressionists went on from there)..... a beautiful van Gogh,   unlike anything I've seen in real life of his before (not a lot to choose among) .... the painting by Monet that was refused by the "Salon" prompting him to have an alternate exhibition.  This painting is about a lunch in a bourgeois household,  waiting for the "man of the house" to return.  (After my reading of the history of women,  the picture of the women of the household with untouched food and restraining an "under two" from that food was interesting.  The complaint from the Salon was apparently that a large formal painting of such an insignificant subject was unacceptable.  Then on to Cezanne (his was a dark painting made when he was avoiding the Prussian war or 1871 in the countryside)  but reminding me of my own "Cezanne's Gum Trees" and I felt vaguely connected to that 1870-1 painting... and the impresssionists...
So much to see, and so little time.   Other highlights were a collection of Max Beckmann paintings.  I was reminded of a print that I made from a self portrait of his...   and he made a number of self portraits.
Once I got to the medernists, including  Picasso, Klee, Feininger and von Jawlensky, I could see where some of my favourite paintings in the State Gallery of SA had come from... intriguing.
There were two final bonusses that I was competely unaware of...
... a painting by Max Ernst with the artist shown as a bird with arms and amazing "unreal" landscape that reminded me of the work of a local artist in Kapunda (I bought him a tiny postcard reproduction of the painting.)
... a tiny protrait of a little girl by Paula Modersohn-Becker that seemed magical.
This image is photographed from the catalogue with my telephone... but the original portrait is so interesting.

After all of this, I did finally find a cable to recharge my computer (at great expense) and after walking over much of the city...  several kilometres when I refer to the map.  

Back in my room....  the view from my window....
I am very tired... but looking forward to a conference about the future of local government.

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