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Two unprecedented exhibits at San Franciscos de Young this month

By August 31, 2010

Arts and entertainment columnist

A few months ago I wrote about the ÒBirth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the MusŽe dÕOrsayÓ exhibit from Paris, France that is currently in its last week at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

If you havenÕt seen ÒBirth of ImpressionismÓ and are a serious lover of the visual arts, by all means purchase a ticket and get to the City before Labor Day, as this exhibit will return to France after Sept. 6. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so consider yourself reminded. Just get yourself there if you can. You can read my column on this exhibit online at

The exhibit of ÒBirthÓ at the de Young is unique. But it is about to be followed up with another exhibit on loan from the MusŽe dÕOrsay that is equal to it in character, interest and history: ÒVan Gogh, Gauguin, CŽzanne and Beyond: Postimpressionist Masterpieces from the MusŽe dÕOrsayÓ opens Sept. 25 and runs through Jan. 18.

The ÒPost Impression MasterpiecesÓ show will include more than 100 paintings from the MusŽe dÕOrsayÕs permanent collection of preeminent artists including Pierre Bonnard, Paul CŽzanne, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh, and Edouard Vuillard, among others.

The MusŽe dÕOrsay is lending works from its treasured collections while it undergoes a partial closure for refurbishment and reinstallation in anticipation of the museumÕs 25th anniversary in 2011. The de Young is the only museum in North America to host this exhibition and the only museum in the world to host both of the MusŽe dÕOrsayÕs masterpiece exhibitions.

ÒThese two exhibitions present a rare and unique opportunity for Americans to see the evolution and incubation of the Impressionist style from the collection of the most important repository of French 19th and early 20th-century art Ñ the MusŽe dÕOrsay,Ó said John E. Buchanan, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

There will be works you know in this exhibit, as well as works that will become new favorites. You will also have an opportunity to see how each artist was influenced in this groundbreaking art movement. You will see famous late-19th-century paintings, including late Impressionist work by Monet and Renoir, followed by the more individualistic styles of the early modern masters including CŽzanne, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Van Gogh, and room-sized decorative panels by the pioneering ÒNabisÓ painters, Bonnard and Vuillard. The exhibition also provides a unique look at the OrsayÕs spectacular collection of Pointillist painters, including work by Seurat and Signac.

ÒVan Gogh, Gauguin, CŽzanne and Beyond: Postimpressionist Masterpieces from the MusŽe dÕOrsayÓ opens Sept. 25 and runs through Jan. 18. ÒBirth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the MusŽe dÕOrsayÓ runs through Sept. 6. Tickets for the exhibitions are timed and dated. Reservations for group tickets are available now at [email protected] General public tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The de Young Museum is located at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. For more information, visit or call (415) 750-3600.

Send your event for consideration in SueÕs column to [email protected]

Susan Laird

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