Published Date Written by Timothy GillisArt fans of all ages, experience, and tastes are flocking to the Portland Museum of Art for the current exhibit, The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism, on display from now until Sept. 8. They seem to sense that this is a rare chance to see many of these works in person, which are here on tour from The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Tourists, school groups, and local art buffs have lined up to see the great works, including masterpieces by Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso.
Erik Patton, associate director for exhibition planning at MoMA, said "It's amazing to see this show here and how you can install it slightly differently in different places. When it's in New York, it fits into the modern canon that MoMA is telling. Here, you can hint at subplots, for example Derain goes with Matisse. It's harder when you have two massive floors, 30 times the space, in New York. You can't tell it in the same intimate way you can here."
The exhibition of modern art showcases 61 works from the renowned William S. Paley Collection at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Paley was a formative and innovative leader in the radio and television world as President and Chairman of the Board at CBS for decades. With Paley at its helm, CBS nurtured the talents of broadcasting greats including Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. With his penchant for new technologies in business, Paley was drawn to modern art as a collector.
Reactions to the show have been uniformly ecstatic. Sheila Bartlett, of Scarborough, said she was very excited that so many different artists are in one exhibit.
"I saw the Picasso show ten years ago," she said. "But here with different artists next to each other in one show, you can see their differences in their styles. Here, you get a chance to see artists that you wouldn't go out of your way to see."
Richard and Susan Pickford, of Portland, read reviews of the show in the paper and had to make their way over to it. "What really struck me was the sculptures," Susan said. "And "The Clown" (by Georges Rouault)." Richard was moved by a painting of Pittsburgh, which was one of the first in Paley's collection.
Paley, inspired by trips abroad to Europe, began to collect art in the 1930s. He filled his homes with works by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Georges Braque, Paul Cézanne, and Paul Gauguin, among others. Highlights of the exhibition will includes Picasso's "Boy Leading a Horse," 1905–1906, André Derain's "Bridge over the Riou," 1906, and Gauguin's "The Seed of the Areoi," 1892.
Francis Morrissey, of Eliot, said, "It looks like a wonderful collection of one man's love affair with art. Some wonderful works here, particularly Cezanne, nicely presented."
Kenneth Eng, who has a place in South Portland as well as New York City, where he has seen the show in its other incarnation, said, "A lot of these paintings are old friends." Eng, who paints, says he is always looking for inspiration. He loves the early paintings of Matisse and Gauguin. "They are not the usual paintings you associate with them, so they are interesting in that regard," he said. A member of the PMA, Eng said his affinity for the museum is caused by their dedication to excellence.
"It's not just this exhibit. They have had many great exhibits. An advantage that Maine has is that many artists come here to work. My friends from Boston say 'Why don't they come to Boston?'"
The show is organized into sections including "Pioneering Moderns," "Modern Rivals" like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, and "Modern Idiosyncrasies," with works in this section reflecting the eclectic and subjective nature of the Paley Collection.
This is the 18th time the exhibit has been on the road since 1992. The PMA is the only New England venue for the collection's 2012–2014 North American tour. The exhibition at the PMA is curated by Margaret Burgess, the Susan Donnell and Harry W. Konkel Associate Curator of European Art.
Kids from the Breakwater School were relaxing in the lobby chairs after an exhausting tour to the exhibit, and several other floors of the PMA. While never at a loss for words, these children did seem a bit confused over the difference between the Paley Collection and other current shows. Liam said he liked the Medusa statue, which is part of another exhibit, but Tobey thought the paintings in the Paley Collection were "really cool."
Jackson said the exhibit was "exciting" and Lucy said the paintings "almost look real." In perhaps the strongest praise, the kids all agreed that the exhibit was as awesome as the planetarium.