While galleries around the world are keeping their doors shut, Melbourne’s much-loved NGV International is staying open. They’ve just announced the program for the rest of 2021 and it is epic. We’ve had a chat with Senior Curator Miranda Wallace and got the scoop on everything you need to see at the gallery this year.
The season highlight will be the Winter Masterpieces French Impressionism Exhibition: from The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All the masters will be on show, including Monet, Renoir and Pissarro with over 100 works on display, including 79 that have never been seen in Australia before. “It’s got all of the things you would hope from a winter masterpieces show,” says Wallace, “artists that are widely known, new work to discover… [from] an iconic period of art history that’s so widely loved”.
The show has been designed by Wallace and her team in collaboration with The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston over Zoom. Established in 1870, Boston’s museum started collecting Impressionist works at the time they were being made, so they’ve “managed to collect some of the most iconic works from the period,” says Wallace. “This is the first time they’ve sent such a large loan exhibition to Australia… to be able to partner with them for an impressionism show is an extraordinary thing”.
Not familiar with French Impressionism? Think of the water lily series from Monet, Degas’ dancers, still life paintings and emotive landscapes. It’s hard to believe they were seen as rebels at the time, when we’ve “gotten used to the idea of artists being much more radical and much more expressive in their work” in the modern era. As Wallace explained to us, the Impressionist artists were “trying to side step academic understanding of art and try to reach into their emotions and respond to the world around them” instead.
The show has been curated chronologically, so you can “see impressionism develop and flourish” as you walk through the space. Centre stage will be “some of the most extraordinary and beautiful Monet paintings, which are hard not to love”, alongside the household names such as Degas, Renoir and Pissarro.
There will also be some work from lesser-known names on the walls which are well worth looking out for. As Wallace pointed out to us, seeing paintings on a screen is “no replacement for the actual thing”, so make sure you get your tickets when the exhibition opens in June 2021.
As for the rest of the 2021 program, it’s hard to know where to start. The gallery will be showing a range of international and local artists in the extremely active program, including Goya, Maree Clarke, Camille Henrot and Rosalie Gascoigne. There will also be exhibitions which celebrate Australia’s Queer and Indigenous artists.
When: Friday 4 June to Sunday 3 October
Where: National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
For more information and tickets, click here.
In the meantime, make sure you check out Imaginaria, Dockland's stunning neon playground.