Masterpieces from Paris in Canberra

Probably the best exhibition I have seen in Australia (coming from a fan of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cezanne). Masterpieces from Paris has 9 Paul Gauguins, 7 Van Goghs and 8 Cezannes. So it’s more than one or two good paintings thrown in with a bunch of weaker paintings like the usual “blockbuster” exhibition. The Van Goghs alone are worth making the effort to see the exhibition.

It has been called the “most valuable collection of art ever to be exhibited in Australia.”

The works come from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and will be on display at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra until April.

Vincent van Gogh Starry Night painting
Vincent van Gogh – Starry Night Over the Rhone
I was surprised by how fresh this painting looks. For some reason I expected it to be smaller and duller than it really is. This painting was worth the 5 hour drive. See also the Starry Night painting from the MoMA.

Vincent van Gogh Bedroom at Arles
Vincent van Gogh – Bedroom at Arles
I thought this painting would be bigger. The Musée d’Orsay version of Vincent’s bedroom is a little smaller than the first two versions that he did. Still a great painting.

Vincent van GoghPortrait of the Artist
Vincent van Gogh – Portrait of the Artist
The man himself.

Paul Gaughuin Tahitian Women
Paul Gauguin – Tahitian Women
I probably should like Gauguin more than I do. He did some really good paintings but I don’t think he comes close to Van Gogh or Cezanne. Having said that, I really liked seeing his paintings in the flesh.

I would show some more works but the NGA website was down. In short, Masterpieces from Paris is a must see if you’re an Australian. They’re easily the best paintings in the country at the moment.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. The style of Van Gogh’s self portraits always made me wonder if he was a hairy man.

  2. There you are, been productive I hope. Been tearing into LA artistes, and especially LACMA for wanting to tear down the old buildings and build new behemoths for $750mil. Just throw some color, you know, that old substance called paint, on the beige panels outside of the stone and voila! Festive and creative, makes for great parties. Check my blog, you should see how dull the buidings are, but can be fixed as new buildings are sterile and cant paint em, all glass and rock and steel. No color, this can be changed anytime you want. Idiots dont know jazz and improvisation on chord changes, let er rip!

    Never seen the first VG before, far better than contempt stuff of stars and mono color insipidness, Thats nice, love to see new work, even if by old faces. I dont think the d’Orsay has any really good Gauguins, the Russians, Schucken and Morozov, bought alot of them and at the Hermitage, and lots of Germans, most French didnt like him. Not unusual, most of thsoe who continue a tradition in new ways are hated by the old cadre, like jazz her which is far more appreciated by classical musicians in europe that here, which look down their skinny ignorant noses at it, Jealous is all.

    Same with Cezanne, wonder which ones you got right now? I have seen retrospectives of both those guys, and the complete watercolors of Cezanne, which may have been better than both. But Gauguin has a much wider range of emotions, though VGs are rather intense. Cant go wrong any way with those three.

    Glad you are having fun and researching, now get back to work, and I mean blogging too!

    art collegia delenda est

  3. I saw the ‘Bedroom in Arles’ at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam but not the ‘Starry Night Over the Rhone’ I was also surprised at how much I liked all of Van Gogh’s work, I liked them in books but they were all so much more alive in the flesh.

  4. Interesting Janet. My guess is he wasnt that

    Donald, sounds like youre focused on a mission. I actually thought of you while browsing the Cezanne wall! There were some good Cezannes, rather than great Cezannes. As far as Gauguin goes, I thought they were really good. The Tahitian Women pic and a Guaguin self portrait there would have to be among his better works.. or at least his more famous works.

    Van Gogh stole the show for me though.

    Helly, I must get to the Van Gogh museum someday! I need a world art tour! I should work more and stop staying in expensive hotels too! lol

  5. “I probably should like Gauguin more than I do. He did some really good paintings but I don’t think he comes close to Van Gogh or Cezanne.”

    You should have seen the two retrospective shows in paris and madrid around the 100th anniversary of gauguin´s death. For me there is no doubt that gauguin´s painting is vastly superior to those of van gogh and cezanne. In theses shows the three contemporaries were shown side by side, and the difference is quite obvious. I must say that the gauguins in the orsay collection are not amongst his best. It is not enough recognized presently the huge figure that gauguin is in the world culture. He is for me in the very top of the great human achievers alongside shakespeare, mozart, beethoven and the like. Perhaps in the future it will be gauguin and not van gogh (and by the way matisse and not picasso) to be considered the greatest of his age.

  6. The arts are very beautiful.. specially the Tahitian Women one. I am an Indian artist and loved ur post

  7. I went to the NGA last weekend. I thought the show was good, not great, but absolutely delighted to re discover the Nabis painters, and Vuillard in particular, but also to discover Puvis de Chavannes who influenced a lot of the artists in the exhibition. The colours and precocious abstraction of composition just reminded me we haven’t come very far from their discoveries in painting. Whilst there, I also took in the permanent collection – and had a wonderful time. Especially enjoyed “The Elders” Indigenous exhibition and icons of Australian Art – particularly a “ripper” of a painting by John Cattapan, whose work I have not been so interested in previously. Make sure you wander and check out the Asian art and Theatre costumes by Matisse et al as well as the Post Impressionist works in Permanenet collection. Made me proud that we even owned this stuff – that someone had the foresight at some time to purchase it (even if leter and at greater cost than was necessary).

  8. Yeah, they have a few gems in their collection Gabrielle.

    I think the paris masterpieces exhibition is the best exhibition i have ever seen in Australia, but i would say the same if the only painting in it was Vincent’s Starry Night. I fell in love with the Dutchman all over again.

  9. Van Gogh was the best because he painted from the rawest part of his being. The vibrant colors, sharp, daggering strokes are symphony of wonderment and manic excitement. It truely is what the arts are about whether you paint or sing. I hope to have half that energy in my pieces. carma


  1. […] Masterpieces from Paris in Canberra – Starry Night Over the Rhone […]

Speak Your Mind