VAG exhibits impress even a philistine – Metro US

VAG exhibits impress even a philistine


In my never-ending quest to come up with something to write about other than the Notorious Bacon Brothers, my bacon has been saved, so to speak, by outstanding news from the Vancouver Art Gallery.

The gallery announced this week it will host an exhibition of Dutch masterpieces from the Golden Age of Holland in the 17th century — works of art from some of the finest painters who ever lived.

The exhibit, called Vermeer, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art: Masterpieces from the Rijkmuseum, begins May 10 and runs until Sept. 13 and tickets are already on sale on the VAG website.

This is monumental news for anyone who loves great art, and should be on page 1 instead of the usual parade of bozos shooting each other for fun and profit, but I digress.

The gallery, and its director, Kathleen Bartels, should get a standing ovation for bringing this to Vancouver, as the collection is a wonder to behold.

I have to admit, the last time I visited the VAG was in the summer of 2007 to see Monet to Dali — Modern Masters from the Cleveland Art Museum, another wonderful exhibit, revealing that when it comes to art, I’m somewhere between 50 and 400 years out of date.

I bet I’m not unique. Art these days is on a scale that self-consciously awes or just as often alienates the viewer. After I spent hours poring over the marvelous paintings from Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso and Dali, I went upstairs to try to take in House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective, the work of the ultra-modern Chinese post-Dadaist. It was fascinating, but also forbidding. Art today doesn’t hang comfortably over the mantle in a frame; instead, it requires big-time floor space and most pieces are referred to in the industrial tense as “installations,” unless they are performance art, in which the artist is the installation.

So I’m thankful that there is still a place for the beauty and grace of master works at the Vancouver Art Gallery — it’s not all up to date and in your face.

Ms. Bartels continues to demonstrate great scope, and the Vancouver Art Gallery refuses to be marginalized or pigeonholed. And for this old philistine, that’s the best news in town.

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