Van Gogh’s Peasant, Andy Warhol, Picasso Top Fall Season

'Michael Jackson and Bubbles'
“Michael Jackson and Bubbles” (1988) by Jeff Koons. The porcelain sculpture, on loan from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, will be among the 100 works by other artists (alongside 45 works by Warhol) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s show “Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years.” Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art via Bloomberg

As usual, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art takes center stage this fall season.

Its promising exhibitions include the highly anticipated “Bernini: Sculpting in Clay” (Oct. 3 - Jan. 6), a show of small studies for larger works.

Comprising some 50 masterly terracotta models and approximately 30 drawings from the hand of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), it will bring us closer -- intimately so -- to the mind, eye and workshop of the greatest of Italian Baroque sculptors.

Among other must-see exhibitions will surely be the Met’s “Matisse: In Search of True Painting” (Dec. 4 - Mar. 17). The show highlights the artist’s dialogue with his own earlier works and focuses on repeated images and themes executed in pairs, trios and series.

Not to be outdone, the Guggenheim Museum is bringing us a show of the other Modern titan, “Picasso Black and White” (Oct. 5 - Jan. 23).

Picasso, especially when compared with Matisse, is often considered primarily a draftsman, or graphic artist.

This 110-work survey of paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures exploring Picasso’s grisailles will remind us that the Spaniard was also one of the most inventive colorists of the 20th century.

Peasant Portrait

Also eagerly awaited are the Museum of Modern Art’s focused survey “Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925” (Dec. 23 - Apr. 15) and “Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Portrait of a Peasant (Patience Escalier)’” (Oct. 30 - Jan. 20) at the Frick Collection.

“Inventing Abstraction” explores the nascent years of European Modernist abstraction, including Robert Delaunay, Kandinsky and Mondrian. With its superb permanent collection from this period, MoMA is the best museum for the job.

The Frick will present but a single portrait of a man wearing a turquoise smock and brilliant-yellow straw hat, shining within a blue field.

What business does a van Gogh have in the Frick? Who cares?

On loan from the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, the stridently colorful work from 1888 was painted when van Gogh was at the height of his powers.

How enlightening to see van Gogh’s “Peasant” in the company of portraits by El Greco, Ingres, Memling, Rembrandt, Titian and Velazquez.

Master Drawings

The Frick also has the stupendous loan exhibition “Mantegna to Matisse: Master Drawings from The Courtauld Gallery” (Oct. 2 - Jan. 27). This show from London includes works by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Rubens, Seurat, van Gogh and Watteau.

Coups for the Frick, these two shows will bring visitors in droves.

So, too, will the Met’s surefire blockbuster, “Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years” (Sept. 18 - Dec. 31).

The show takes stock of the Pop artist’s continuing influence on contemporary art -- creating malaise is more apt.

Clearly, Warhol is extremely influential, and this exhibition, which likely won’t be much to look at, may prove instructive.

But when “Regarding Warhol” -- trumping both Bernini and Matisse -- leads the fall lineup at the world’s greatest and most powerful museum, it may signal the first real populist downturn since Thomas P. Campbell took over as the Met’s director.

For more information: Metropolitan Museum of Art: Guggenheim Museum: Museum of Modern Art: Frick Collection:

(Lance Esplund is U.S. art critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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