The triumph of colour. Van Gogh to Matisse. Collections from Musée d’Orsay & L'Orangerie

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The triumph of colour. Van Gogh to Matisse. Collections from Musée d’Orsay & L'Orangerie
©RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

It's a triple triumph for art in Barcelona: 1) a new exhibition space where enough money has been invested, finally, 2) the golden age of Western painting before the avant-garde within reach, and 3) the pleasure of admiring good painting, in the face of the persistent avalanche of conceptual installations.

I’m referring to the exhibition ‘El triunfo del color’, the feather in the cap at Barcelona's Fundación Mapfre – the company where I pay for my obligatory home insurance investing in culture! – which is in the Casa Garriga y Nogués, the old headquarters of the Fundación Godia. The exhibition features 70 paintings from the Musée d'Orsay and Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris which cover the last quarter of the 19th century and the very first years of the 20th. So you get post-impressionism pieces like pointillist experiments by Seurat and Signac, the saturnal brush strokes of Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec, works of colouristic Fauvism by Matisse and Derain, structural revolution paintings by Cézanne and Picasso like ‘The Young Ladies of Avignon’, as well as Nabis escapism and the cultural reset of Gauguinian utopias.

The exhibition’s labels, as well as its audio guides, suggest a colouristic revolution, but pay no attention to them – you'll find a load of types of revolutions on the walls. You only have to go to one corner of the space to find, on your right, Monet's nearly abstract ‘Weeping Willow’, and on your left, a fragment of Cézannes's ‘Forest’. The eternal themes, the classic and the romantic, the structure and the spirit. What’s new then? The perspective.

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