BEST MUSEUM EXHIBITION - 2004
"Crossing the Channel"
This summer blockbuster, which came to the MIA after debuting at the London's Tate Britain, is the kind of show that never ends up in Minneapolis. Starting with its centerpiece, Theodore Gericault's macabre yet luminous shipwreck scene The Raft of the Medusa, "Crossing the Channel" constituted a veritable walking tour of 19th-century European art, including a number of well-known paintings that have never toured stateside before. But, despite its rarefied subject and catchall salon-style presentation, "Crossing the Channel" wasn't just a moldy greatest-hits collection of Delacroixs and Constables. Curated by the MIA's Patrick Noon, the show also made a provocative and convincing case for the cross-germination between French and British painters after the Napoleonic wars. As with any thoughtfully organized exhibit, however, it was the paintings themselves that made this art-history lesson manifest.