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The Bellagio Collection
Where would you go to see the work of the top dozen or so artists of the last two or three hundred years? Where might you find combined under one roof, the works of Picasso, van Gogh, Renoir, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Gauguin, de Kooning, Manet, Matisse, Miró, Modigliani, Monet, Degas, Seurat, and Pollock? London's National Gallery maybe, or the similar institution in Washington, or New York's s MoMA, the Louvre in Paris, or perhaps St. Petersburg in Russia? Well, possibly, though with a list as diverse as this, maybe none of these might have every single artist. How about Las Vegas? The Bellagio Resort perhaps? I know people go to Vegas for a lot of different reasons, the golf, the gambling, the restaurants, the shows, but to view fine art? In a casino? Well, no, nor in the hotel lobby either for that matter. Actually they're all tucked away in a modest but elegant gallery in the rear of the place. Go back by the pool and hang a right.

It's not a big gallery. The Louvre has nothing to worry about. And, there is not much depth to the collection; but what it lacks in scale it more than makes up for in breadth and chic showmanship. All are originals--oil paintings except for the works of Manet and Degas - which are pastels. It's the private collection, now open to the public, of Stephen A. Wynn, CEO of Mirage Resorts which owns the Bellagio complex. As Las Vegas attractions go, it's pretty tame. As art museums go, it's the best Las Vegas has to offer. As twentieth century art goes, the names are all there but the work is hardly top of the line masterpieces to make the Museum of Modern Art green with envy. But, it's a nice little distraction in the wake of a bad day at the slots.

You'll find Picasso's 1942 portrait of his mistress, Dora Maar. The van Gogh is a peasant woman in a wheat field. Wynn seems to have a taste for figures. Even the Cézanne is a portrait, his 1900 Portrait of a Woman. The Degas is excellent, a pastel and gouache Dancer Taking a Bow. The de Kooning, Police Gazette is typical De Kooning. The Pollock is typical in style and technique too, though brighter than most of his work, and not as large as we're accustomed to seeing from Pollock. The show stopper, if there is one, would be the Monet's 1905, Water-lily Pond with Bridge. One work even manages to be controversial, the newest addition to the collection, Henri Matisse's 1928 Odalisque (Oriental Woman Seated on a Floor) recently purchased from the heirs of the Paul Rosenberg estate via the Seattle Art Museum, the Bloedel family (Seattle lumber barons), the Knoedler Art Gallery in New York, and before that the Nazis, who stole it from the Paris' Rosenburg Galleries during W.W.II. It joins a lacklustre Matisse still life to add a bit of intrigue to the collection. Numbering some 40 works in all, it's a respectable stab at fine art and high culture in a place not particularly known for either.

Contributed by Lane, Jim
10 December 1999


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