Artful Opportunism

Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), Hospital at Saint-Rémy, 1889, oil on canvas, 36 5/16 x 28 in. The Armand Hammer Collection, gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), Hospital at Saint-Rémy, 1889, oil on canvas, 36 5/16 x 28 in. The Armand Hammer Collection, gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

One of the remarkable and exciting things about The Huntington—aside from its glorious collections—is its relative lack of bureaucracy and, as a result, its ability to move quickly. We are, in a word, nimble. And we love to jump on an opportunity whenever it presents itself. So . . . this just in: on Saturday, July 16, we open not one, but two exquisite little exhibitions for the next several months.

First up: a loan of 15 spectacular paintings from the Hammer Museum’s permanent collection. The museum is closing its permanent galleries for four months for renovation, and when they asked recently if we would be interested in borrowing a painting by John Singer Sargent for display, we said not only, “Yes,” but, “Yes and might there be anything else you’d be willing to loan?” The Hammer responded with a generous list. And so, we are mounting a lovely and carefully selected display of Impressionist works by van Gogh, Gauguin, Pissarro, Monet, Cezanne, and Toulouse-Lautrec, among others.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901), Touc, Seated on a Table, ca. 1879–1881, oil on panel, 9 1/4 x 5 9/16 in. The Armand Hammer Collection, gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901), Touc, Seated on a Table, ca. 1879–1881, oil on panel, 9 1/4 x 5 9/16 in. The Armand Hammer Collection, gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

Installed in the Huntington Art Gallery, “Van Gogh & Friends: Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism from the Hammer Museum” presents not only key works of modern painting to be relished on their own, but also works that resonate with our own collection of British art. It was, in fact, John Constable’s innovative landscapes, replete with shimmering light and shadow, that inspired French artists to bring a particularly vivid and radical form of his plein air painting into the modern era. (If you do plan to come, slip over to the west side of the gallery while you’re here and take in Constable’s View on the Stour near Dedham to get a feel for what burgeoning Impressionists were seeing in those dramatically expressive brushstrokes.)

On view will be a range of works, including van Gogh’s renowned Hospital at Saint-Rémy (1889) and The Sower (1888); Toulouse-Lautrec’s Touc, Seated on a Table (ca. 1879–1881) and Study for “In the Salon on the Rue des Moulins” (1894); Cezanne’s Boy Resting (ca. 1887); and Monet’s View of Bordighera (1884). The exhibition runs through Jan. 2, 2017.

John Singer Sargent (1856–1925), Dr. Pozzi at Home, 1881, oil on canvas, 79 3/8 x 40 1/4 in. The Armand Hammer Collection, gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

John Singer Sargent (1856–1925), Dr. Pozzi at Home, 1881, oil on canvas, 79 3/8 x 40 1/4 in. The Armand Hammer Collection, gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

Separately, The Huntington is displaying Dr. Pozzi at Home, the great John Singer Sargent painting also on loan from the Hammer, in its Thornton Portrait Gallery. Dr. Pozzi will occupy a spot in the gallery among The Huntington’s famed Grand Manner paintings, including Blue Boy.

Simultaneously, also in the Huntington Art Gallery and also on July 16, we open a new focused exhibition of 20th-century British paintings. “Blast! Modernist Painting in Britain, 1900–1940” celebrates the recent acquisition of three important works of 20th-century British art—Mark Gertler’s striking 1912 portrait of a fellow artist, Dora Carrington; Duncan Grant’s Cubist-inspired still life, Vase of Flowers with Lemon (1913); and David Bomberg’s powerful depiction of the landscape of northern Spain, The Slopes of Navao, Picos de Europa (1935). The exhibition’s title derives from the eponymous, short-lived, avant-garde magazine founded by artist Percy Wyndham Lewis and poet Ezra Pound in 1914, which championed modern aesthetics.

Mark Gertler (1891–1939), Portrait of Dora Carrington, 1912, oil and tempera on canvas, 20 x 16 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Mark Gertler (1891–1939), Portrait of Dora Carrington, 1912, oil and tempera on canvas, 20 x 16 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

It was our great fortune to receive a loan from a local collector of significant works that beautifully supplement the display—including paintings by Walter Sickert, Stanley Spencer, Gwen John, David Bomberg, Wyndham Lewis, and Samuel Peploe. The exhibition is on view through Nov. 14, 2016.

Check out the Hammer Museum’s blog post on the visiting paintings.

Related content on Verso:
Dazzling in the Midst of War (July 31, 2015)

Susan Turner-Lowe is vice president for communications and marketing at The Huntington.

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