Philadelphia Museum of Art has all the signatures of the artist. The melancholy, the hope, the endlessness on his landscapes and the breathtaking beauty that emerged from those brushstrokes. It was an exhibition that filled the heart.
The Museum itself boasts of graceful architecture enclosing art of many varieties. We were visiting PA for a couple of days for a family event and was pleasantly surprised to find that the exhibition was open until 8.45 pm.It was a rainy evening but the aura inside was festive - "Art after 5" was in session - with International and jazz live music, cash bar and h'orderves. But our focus was on the special exhibition and we picked our recorded tours and proceeded to it.
As soon as one steps into the room, a feeling of awe spreads like a wave on each visitor. To be surrounded and yet be so close, to each of these paintings - be able to lean forward and watch each dot and line, to be able to percieve the layers of colors that he used to portray the right "impression", that was a privilege.
The exhibition was arranged in the order of the age of the painting, so as we saw his paintings we also saw his life unfold, starting with his still life paintings with flowers and objects, portraits, gradually moving on to landscapes, his interest in Japanese paintings and culminating into the beautiful "Blossoming Almond Tree" which he painted for his brother's son, his namesake - Vincent.
My 8 and 4 year olds too were actually listening to the narrations provided for each painting. The Museum also did a great job of having a "Kids Activity Book" which had trivia questions and observation hints. A most curious one was " What is a common factor between all the paintings which had trees ? " And the answer was " They all had no tops !" Of course this did not deter my kids from asking to go to the rest room "urgently" right midway through the exhibition (they are always strategic as not to plan that for the beginning or the end), but the beauty in the room was strong enough to bring me back to continue. Aishani had her book : Sunflowers and Swirly Stars (Smart About Art) from her school library and she was thrilled to find the real counterparts of some of the paintings in the book !
In the last month of his life, Vincent van Gogh painted this lyrical scene: lovers arm in arm in a forest of poplars with wildflowers underfoot.
It was an enjoyable evening, the exhibition itself had excellent lighting, was well spaced with seating to view the paintings and ended into a gift store which had beautiful objects with the paintings printed on them. Obviously a lot of planning and effort had gone into this one and I hope to go back for the Gauguin Collections in June.
When we settle down at the Cafe after all was done, with our coffees and croissants, my 4 year old exclaimed "Guess what, Mom! This is about Art !". Well, seems like the kids did gain something after all on that evening.....