Sunday, November 27, 2011

Simple ideas to enjoy the exhibition "Dreams and Reality" better

Special thanks to the generosity of the National Heritage Board and the National Museum of Singapore, a few fellow bloggers and myself was treated to a guided tour to the current blockbuster exhibition, Dreams and Reality – Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, held at the National Museum of Singapore on 20 Nov 2011. Credits also go to Ms Belinda Tan and Shaun from National Heritage Board for making this visit possible.

With an overwhelming number of more than 140 paintings, photographs and drawings from the collection of the world renowned Musée d’Orsay, an art museum in France, what could a visitor do to better appreciate this exhibition?

In this post, I shall attempt to share some suggestions that may guide a visitor, especially one who is totally new to visual art, to enjoy this exhibition like a seasoned visual art-lover.

Suggestion #1: Attend one of the free guided tours.
Guided tours to the exhibition are available. (Admission fee to the exhibition applies.) During one of these guided tours, the well-trained volunteer guide will take the participants for an one-hour walk-through of the exhibition. During the tour, some of the most interesting and important works in the exhibition will be highlighted and discussed.

To check the schedules for the free guided tour please visit this link or check with the museum's Visitor Services Counter when you purchase your admission tickets to the exhibition.

During my recent visit to this exhibition, our volunteer guide, Ms Elaine Tan, gave us a very informative tour. I left the exhibition with more understanding of many of the artists and the artworks.

Suggestion #2: Rent one of the audio guides.
Some of the times, there may simply be no available guided tours during our visit. The audio guides to the exhibition that are available for hire are equally wonderful alternatives.

For S$3, the audio guide will give the visitor an overview of the exhibition. In addition. the audio guide will give the visitor a good introduction to thirty of the works from the exhibition. The best thing is that the visitor can listen to the audio guides at his own pace and for as many times he would like during his visit. One thing that I like about the audio guide is that the pronunciation of all the French names and terms sounds pretty authentic.

Suggestion #3: Walk through the entire exhibition. Identify your favourite painting. Learn more about it.

Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night.

One of my favourite paintings is Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night. One of the ways to appreciate this painting is to look at this work from various distances and angles.

Take a closer look at the upper half of this painting and one will realize that Vincent Van Gogh had applied very thick paints in horizontal fashion when he painted the skies.

Interestingly, Vincent Van Gogh used a different kind of brush-works when he painted the reflections of the gas lighting on the surface of the river. Did you notice that the brushstrokes were more fine and less broad compared to those used to paint the skies?

Thanks to technology, with the use of search engines such as Google, we can learn more about the painting of  our choice, and about the artist behind the works. Here are some of the related links to learn more about Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night:

Suggestion #4: Read the reference materials provided
The organizers of this exhibition were very thoughtful and provided a number of reference materials for visitors to browse and read. These materials can be found near the exit of the exhibition halls.

Visitors are also invited to draw an impression of their favourite art work from the exhibition and share it with their friends and loved ones.

Suggestion #5: Choose an artist whose artwork has caught your liking. Search the entire exhibition for other works by this very artist. Compare the similarities and differences in the various artworks by this artist.
I have combed the entire exhibition and there appears to be only one work by Vincent Van Gogh.

So I chose another painting that I like. Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right by Claude Monet is one of the other paintings that I like. This painting was painted in 1886.

Monet's Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right

The next step is to walk about the entire exhibition to look for paintings by Claude Monet. Claude Monet was a founder of the French Impressionism art movement. Some of the characteristics of this 19th-century art movement are the emphasis on the depiction of light in its changing qualities, the depiction of ordinary subject matter and the use of unusual visual angles.

I have found that there were at least five paintings by Claude Monet that were exhibited at this exhibition. It is interesting to compare and take note of the differences and similarities in the various paintings by Claude Monet.

Monet's Portrait of Madame Gaudibert.

For example, the brush strokes in Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right are comparatively more thin and visible than those found in Portrait of Madame Gaudibert. 

Monet's Camille on her deathbed

Monet's Camille on her deathbed depicted Monet's first wife, Camille-Leonie Doncieux Monet, at her deathbed. She died at the age of 32 years old from cancer.

In terms of the choice of colours, the colours used in Camille on her deathbed are comparatively more dull and darker compared to the colours used in Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right.

Monet's Boats: Regatta at Argenteull, 1874.

Monet's Branch of the Seine near Giverny, 1897.

I find Monet's landscape paintings to be visually pleasing. After viewing his works at a distance, it often helps to take a closer look at Monet's works to get a better glimpse of how he created beautiful works of art using seemingly visible and rapid brush strokes.

We have come to the end of this post, may you find yourself armed with a few suggestions on how you can better enjoy Dreams and Reality – Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris as if you were an informed visitor.

If you have yet to visit this blockbuster art exhibition, please make some time to do so by 5 Feb 2012!

Dreams and Reality: Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Till 5 Feb 2012.
Venue: National Museum of Singapore
Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Ticket Prices: $11 including SISTIC charges
Ticket Bookings: SISTIC counters nationwide
SISTIC hotline: (65)6348 5555
SISTIC online booking:


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog! I enjoyed your comparison of Monet's different paintings.

oceanskies79 said...

Thank you for your compliments. I love Monet's works.