April 29, 2013

Must-see modernism at Portland museum

The Portland Museum of Art unveils its main event for summer, a gift from a media titan who had an astute eye for art.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

“M. de Lauradour,” oil and gouache on cardboard by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1897.

All images © The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The William S. Paley Collection

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“Two Dancers,” charcoal and pastel on tracing paper by Edgar Degas, 1905.

Additional Photos Below

OPENING THURSDAY

"THE WILLIAM S. PALEY COLLECTION: A TASTE FOR MODERNISM"

WHEN: Opens Thursday and runs through Sept. 8

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, with extended hours to 9 p.m. Friday; after Memorial Day, the museum will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays

WHERE: Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square

HOW MUCH: $17; $15 for seniors and students with ID; $11 for ages 13 to 17; free for children age 12 and younger

INFO: 775-6148; portlandmuseum.org

A committed philanthropist, Paley also became a key player at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which was founded in 1929. Over the years, he served as patron, trustee, president and board chairman at the museum.

Paley died in 1990, and left his collection to MoMA. It has toured to almost two dozen museums around the country. Portland is the only one in New England.

Portland got this show because the honorary chair of the PMA's recent Winslow Homer campaign, George Gillespie, was one of Paley's lawyers and serves on the Paley foundation board. Gillespie has a home on Peaks Island in Portland, and put in a good word for the PMA to host this show, said museum director Mark Bessire.

The Paley collection was in San Francisco before Portland, and will head to Quebec after it leaves Maine. It has one more stop after that, then rests in New York for good.

Lilian Tone, assistant curator of painting and sculpture at MoMA, said the Portland museum's long exhibition history in European art prepared it well for this show.

The Isabelle and Scott Black Collection and the Albert Otten Collection allow the museum to exhibit exceptional examples of European art, she said. The quality of those collections and the exhibitions the museum has built from them made the PMA a perfect candidate to host the show.

"This museum's track record allows it to do this show," she said. "The museum has an amazing record of keeping the collections in high standards in terms of the installation of its shows."

A GOOD FIT FOR MAINE

In addition, the Paley paintings work well in Maine because of Maine's own history with modernism. John Marin, Marsden Hartley and other Maine-centric artists created the work they did because they were so heavily influenced by European modernism.

The paintings in the PMA exhibition were precisely the paintings those artists were looking at after the turn of the century.

"They were looking to Europe," Bessire said. "I think it's important that we view this work as a platform for American modernism that Maine is known for. You look at these paintings, and it's not a far cry from the work created by the modernists who came to Maine. All of them went to Paris to see this work and these artists."

As was the case with its Winslow Homer exhibition last fall, the museum will levy a $5 surcharge on top of its regular admission price. That means adults will pay $17 to see the exhibition.

Bessire said the surcharge would not become the norm, and was necessary because of the costs associated with hosting an exhibition of this stature. In addition to increased security, the costs of insuring the show are higher than normal because of the value of the work.

"We feel it's a reasonable fee when you bring this kind of work to the museum," he said.

Bessire expects somewhere around 75,000 people to see the exhibition before it closes Sept. 8. The timing is perfect, not only because of the busy summer tourism season, but also because the exhibition will be open over three major holidays: Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day.

Burgess hopes visitors come for second looks. There are a lot of paintings in the exhibition that cover a lot of artistic territory. While it showcases Paley's "deep commitment" to modern art, it also reflects his interest in Post-Impressionism, Fauvism and Cubism.

There's also a small taste of American realism with works by Edward Hopper and the surrealism of the Spanish artist Joan Miro, she noted.

Burgess called attention to two other paintings: One by Gauguin, the other by Cezanne.

(Continued on page 3)

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

“Woman with a Veil,” oil on canvas by Henri Matisse, 1927

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“Self-Portrait in a Straw Hat,” oil on canvas by Paul Cezanne, 1875-76

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Cezanne’s “L’Estaque,” oil on canvas, 1879-84

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“Washer-women,” oil on canvas by Paul Gauguin, 1888

  


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