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Australia brings masterpieces to art lovers

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Australian art lovers are being treated to an unprecedented showing of the most influential modern works of art. One of the country's major galleries has brought together paintings from the masters of modernism for a special exhibition, charting the history of the movement.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales believes its new exhibition, 'Paths to Abstraction', could be a once in a lifetime experience for art fans in Australia.

Most of the 150 works are showing in Australia for the first, and perhaps even the last time.

Spanish cubism founder Pablo Picasso, French artist Henri Matisse, and many of the modernist masters have been shown before, but the paintings in this exhibition have been brought together with a story to tell.

Edmund Capon, art gallery of New South Wales, said, "It's looking at them in a completely different way. We've tended to, you know, we know Monet, we know Cezanne, and we know Kandinsky, but we know them in their own particular world and context. What we're doing here is looking at them in the whole story of the evolution of western art, which is a very different matter."

The exhibition charts the history of modernism over half a century from 1867 to 1917.

It includes a 1914 work by Piet Mondrian in which the Dutch artist adopted a new technique by using a recessed frame.

Art Historian Jean-Claude Lebensztejn says the choice reflected Mondrian's desire to bring his work to life.

Putting on an exhibition like this in Australia proved a challenge, with many of the included works having to travel long distances from galleries overseas.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales says it has taken five years of planning and sweet talking more than 50 major international museums into lending their priceless pieces at the same time.

Works from New York's Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Britain, France's Pompidou Centre and Spain's Picasso Museum are all included in the exhibition.

'Paths to Abstraction' is on at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney until September 19th.

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