I’ve always loved art. Paintings especially have always held my interest, and it was the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movement specifically that first drew me into the art world. The soft colours of Monet’s Water Lillies, the vivid swirls of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and even the vibrant details of Toulouse-Lautrec’s Can Can Dancers have always fascinated and comforted me.
Looking back, I can’t remember the first time I visited an art gallery. However, I can rate my top five art gallery experiences of all time without hesitation…
Five: Andy Warhol at the WAG
It was January of 2007 when my then-boyfriend-now-husband Jeff and I visited the WAG for the first time. We wanted to see the Andy Warhol exhibit, which was fantastic. What made the date even better was the fact that we accidentally stumbled across Frank Warren’s Post Secret exhibit on our way out. We both love his books, and didn’t know the collection was being shown at the gallery.
Four: The Art Institute of Chicago’s hidden treasures
I visited Chicago twice during college, and both times I spent a few hours at the Art Institute. It houses a huge collection, including a few surprisingly important pieces. It was here that I saw American Gothic, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and The Old Guitarist, among other noteworthy paintings. You’d know all of them if you looked them up!
Three: The Art Gallery of Ontario and Jackson Pollock
In August of 2012, Jeff and I again stumbled across an exhibit by an artist we love at the AGO. The travelling New York Exhibit features work from a variety of artists, including Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner. We had literally just watched a documentary about Pollock before getting on the plane to Toronto, and then happened to be at the art gallery right as the exhibit from New York was being featured. What are the odds of that?
Two: Musee d’Orsay and a floor of Impressionist art
When travelling to Paris, everyone visits Musee de Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, but for me it was Musee d’Orsay that held the appeal. Built inside an old train station, the museum doesn’t just hold paintings, but antique furniture, clothing and models of Paris.
Standing in front of Van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone –
my second favourite Van Gogh painting!
I spent a number of hours surrounded by famous paintings (including Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and Rembrandt), but the museum as a whole is worth spending a day wandering through.
One: The National Gallery in London and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers
It’s funny, but even after spending half a day in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, I still remember the National Gallery as my favourite Van Gogh moment. My brother and I had just arrived in Europe, and we stumbled across the gallery on a day when admission was free. We both desperately wanted to hide from the rainy and gloomy day, so we went inside.
It was inside this ancient museum that I saw Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. It was the first Van Gogh painting I’d ever seen in person, and I didn’t want to leave the museum. Photography of any kind was prohibited in the National Gallery, but my brother could see how much the painting meant to me. While I distracted the nearby security guard, he snapped a few poorly angled shots of the masterpiece so we would always remember the moment.