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DIA docent tour
Docent tour

Superstars of Modern Art on View at Detroit Institute of Arts

Monday, September 08, 2008

September 8, 2008 (Detroit)—An extraordinary “who’s who” of modern art masters, including Monet, Dali, van Gogh, Renoir, Degas, Matisse, Picasso and Rodin—to name just a few—will be on view at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Oct. 12, 2008–Jan. 18, 2009. Through 75 paintings and sculptures, visitors will be immersed in one of the most fascinating periods in the history of art—the gradual shift from a reliance on artistic tradition to an insistence on individual innovation at the turn of the 20th century.


“We anticipate that Monet to Dali will be very popular with our visitors,” said Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director. “Although the Cleveland collection contains the work of many artists familiar from our own, we can see how two such similar institutions with similar goals created collections that differ so much in detail.”


In keeping with the DIA’s approach in the permanent collection galleries, the exhibition is organized into themes, with five sections, each exploring a powerful influence on modern artists. Claude Monet’s painting The Wheat Field introduces a gallery of landscapes that evoke the calm of the countryside and contrasts traditional landscape painting with more modern approaches. The next section features art that looks at the underlying anxieties of the evolving modern world, including a large-scale Blue Period Picasso and a late work by van Gogh. Cubist paintings by Picasso and Braque, as well as the pure order and balance of Piet Mondrian, are included in the third section, on the new-found sense of freedom to experiment. The fourth section focuses on the influence of psychology and artists’ attempts to express an inner life, and includes the Surrealist painting The Dream by Salvador Dalí. Scenes of café life and elegant portraits of urban sophisticates by Edgar Degas and Henri Matisse are in the final section that focuses on the energy and dynamism of urban life. Together these exceptional works illustrate how modern art has depicted our world and why it has so captured the popular imagination.


Just as Monet to Dalí explores ways in which society, modern life, and emotions have influenced these artists, it also invites viewers to engage in thinking about their own responses to the paintings. “Personal

Connections” labels highlight a selection of works that resonate with curators, educators, or the director. The audio tour weaves personal responses into art-historical discussions. A “Dialogue” room within the museum affords visitors the opportunity to learn more about the works as well as try their hand at organizing a mock exhibition. Visitors can enter their thoughts and feelings about the works at computer stations at the end of the exhibition, or later on the DIA Web site ( 


A special museum shop with items specifically related to the exhibition, including a fully illustrated catalogue, will be set up near the exhibition.


Tickets, which include an audio tour and museum admission, are $18 for adults, $8 for ages 6-17, $16 for groups of 15 or more, and $14 for groups of 50 or more. For ticket information, visit or call the Box Office at 313-833-4005.


This exhibition has been organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art. In Detroit, the exhibition is proudly sponsored by Bank of America.




Related Activities

Friday, October 17, 7 & 8:30 p.m., Todd Snider

Balladeer Todd Snider writes songs that combine the wanderlust of a beat poet with the honest narrative of a folk singer-songwriter. His music is catchy, intelligent, articulate, sardonic, sarcastic, and sometimes fantastic.


Friday, October 24, 7 & 8:30 p.m., Libby York

Vocalist Libby York makes an auspicious BluJazz recording debut with her CD Sunday in New York. Downbeat Magazine calls it “Stylish and cosmopolitan, with a broad streak of lush life urbanity …”


Saturday, November 1, 2 p.m., "Picasso and Surrealism" 

William H. Robinson, curator of Modern European Art at The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), will discuss the relationship of Picasso's paintings to the Surrealist movement of the 1930s, focusing on paintings in the CMA’s collection. New research on the subjects of these works will modify and enhance our understanding of their enigmatic imagery.


Saturday, December 27, 8 p.m. & Sunday, December 28, 2 p.m., Parade

This revolutionary collaboration was the response to a challenge to Jean Cocteau from Ballets Russes impresario Serge Diaghilev, “Astonish me.” The result was an inspired collaboration between Cocteau, Erik Satie, Léonid Massine, and Pablo Picasso. This performance incorporates the revolutionary ideas of Cocteau, Massine, and Picasso set to the music of Erik Satie. This DIA production features Leo Najar’s Bijou Orchestra and the Aerial Angels, a female circus act.


Saturday, January 10, 2 p.m., "Pissarro and the Structuring of the Impressionist Landscape, 1870-1885"

Pissarro and Cézanne brought a structural rigor to their landscapes of the 1870s that was at odds with the impressionist aesthetic embodied in landscapes by Monet and Renoir. Richard Brettell, Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art & Aesthetics, University of Texas at Dallas, shows the gradual "structuring" of facture, color, and composition in the landscape paintings of the two. Sponsored by the European Paintings Council.


Detroit Film Theatre Series, Sundays, Oct. 19, Nov. 2, 16, 23 & Saturday, Nov. 29, 2 p.m.

The Detroit Film Theatre will present five programs of films by contemporaries of the artists represented in Monet to Dalí. These experimental films showcase European filmmakers that transcended the limitations of silent and early sound films to create an art of cinema.


Sunday, October 19, The Mirror Has Three Faces and Menilmontant

The Mirror Has Three Faces is the story of a man and his affairs, each told through the eyes of his mistresses. Ménilmontant (France/1927) is about two sisters whose lives are torn apart by the murder of their parents. They drift apart, and then intersect again and fall in love with the same man. Both films will be accompanied by a live piano score performed by David Drazin.


Sunday, November 2, L’Inferno (The Inferno) (directed by Francesco Bertolini/Italy/1911)

Dante’s The Divine Comedy is also the starting point for this early Italian horror film. Recently restored with music by Tangerine Dream, the film reflects the fascination with the underworld and the burgeoning interest in psychology that shaped both film and art in the coming years.


Sunday, November 16, Le Million (The Million) (directed by Rene Clair/1931/France)

After a preoccupation with landscapes and light, the Impressionists moved on to other sources of inspiration, capturing the urban life of Paris in all manners of brush stroke and hue. Rene Clair, a contemporary of Renoir, explores Paris just as sound was beginning to be introduced into film, and his imaginative rendering of a search for a lottery ticket is pure fun.


Sunday, November 23, Un Chien Andalou and L’age d’Or (Andalusian Dog and The Age of Gold) (directed by Luis Bunuel/1930/France)

Picasso and Dalí are well known members of the Surrealist movement. A convergence of trends and influences, including politics, psychoanalysis and interest in the subconscious, the Surrealist movement was prevalent in film as well. The pieces in the exhibition’s section on the inner life are heavily influenced by dream imagery, and these famous pieces of film, both featuring writing and production design by Dalí, are nearly dreams on screen.


Saturday, November 29, 2008:  Kamraderschaft  (directed by G.W. Pabst /1929/Germany)

As waves of industrialization passed through Europe, art naturally reflected both the anxiety of a changing lifestyle and the growing political movements. The sunny landscapes of the Impressionist era are replaced with the grey views of factories and workers. Kamraderschaft follows the story of a mine split between France and Germany after WWI. When miners become trapped in the French half, their German counterparts attempt a rescue.


Museum Hours and Admissions

Museum hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for ages 6-17, and DIA members are admitted free. For membership information call 313-833-7971.



The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA's collection is known for its quality, range, and depth.


Programs are made possible with support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit.



Pamela Marcil           313-833-7899