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The making of an exhibition: a long mystical journey

October 10th, 2016

Monet Water Lillies

Claude Monet: detail of Water Lilies (Nymphéas), 1907. 80.98 x 92.07. Oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Gift of Mrs. Harry C. Hanszen. Courtesy Bridgeman Images

Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, Van Gogh and more is one of the AGO’s most ambitious projects to date. Ever wondered how an exhibition of this scale is put together?

For those on the outside of art museums, exhibitions may seem to materialize by magic, but the truth is they take the work of many people and years of research and planning. Here’s a bit of the back story to Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, Van Gogh and more, one of the AGO’s most ambitious projects ever.

Five years ago, Katharine Lochnan, the AGO’s Senior Curator of International Exhibitions, began to notice that many artists around 1900 were caught up in a quest for mystical experiences in nature, something that no one had previously explored. The more she looked, the more artists and paintings she encountered that supported her hunch. Instead of going it alone, she brought together a team of twenty experts, ranging from a medical doctor, astrophysicist and Jungian analyst, to art historians and religious studies experts. They met regularly at the AGO over several years, each bringing to the table a unique expertise and perspective. Together the team returned again and again to the basics: “Which artists are mystical? Which paintings are mystical? How do we know?” Kathy Lochnan’s task was to achieve consensus, and to hammer out a final list of artists and works. As it turns out, we’re in for a treat.  An impressive 87 paintings by 39 artists from across Europe, Scandinavia and North America will be on display for our viewing pleasure as of October 22, 2016.

Click here to buy tickets.


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