Institute curator Patrick Noon with Van Gogh paintings in Minneapolis

Institute curator Patrick Noon with Van Gogh paintings in Minneapolis

Minneapolis Institute of Art curator Patrick Noon with Van Gogh paintings in Delacroix exhibition. Star Tribune photo by Glen Stubbe

Exhibitions organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Art and Walker Art Center opened to acclaim in London and Philadelphia during February. First presented last year in Minneapolis, both are ambitious displays of art on loan from museums and private collections around the world.

Assembled by Institute curator Patrick Noon, "Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art" is on view at the National Gallery in London through May 22. Heralding it as a "rich, jumbled, stimulating new show," the Financial Times described Delacroix as "the hinge between Romanticism and Modernism" whose "frenzied manner, blended tones, density of design and restless spirit set 19th-century painting free. Work by work . . . we see how Delacroix variously liberated the Impressionist brushstroke, the Symbolist reverie, Gauguin's decorative patterning and psychological charge . . . and the chromatic audacity of the Fauves." 

However, the show apparently was not installed as deftly in London as it was Minneapolis where its groundbreaking ideas were clearly explained and the paintings smartly grouped to make connections clear. In London the FT's lead arts writer, Jackie Wullschlager, fretted about "an inconsistent, sometimes bewildering thematic hang" of the pictures.

Even so, she called the show "fresh and insightful," and the international newspaper prominently featured two of the Minneapolis museum's most important paintings -- Delacroix's "Convulsionists of Tangier" and Van Gogh's "Olive Trees" -- among six reproduced in its February 20/21 issue.  

Meanwhile, the Walker's "International Pop" exhibition opened at the Philadephia Museum of Art on February 24. It was co-curated by two Walker curators who have since moved on to other institutions: Darsie Alexander, now director of the Katona Museum of Art in Westchester County about 50 miles north of New York City, and Bartholomew Ryan who now is the Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. 

Calling the show "carefully selected and bound to inform, if not shock," The New York Times said: "A groundbreaking effort, it expands both the definition and the fomenters of Pop, reshaping it as the global phenomenon that it was." The show will be in Philly through May15.