Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Impressionnism from France and America Exhibition

I just came back from Montpellier, in the South of France, where I spent two weeks with my family. One of my vacation goals was to visit the Fabre museum , which had been closed for several years for a complete revamp.A good surprise was the current temporary exhibition: L'Impressionnisme de France et d'Amérique (Impressionnism from France and America) with 80 works on exhibit by Bazille, Cassatt, Caillebotte, Degas, Manet, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley.

This exhibition has been put together in partership with the museum of Grenoble and FRAME (French Regional American Museum Exchange).

Here are few notes from my visit:
  • It is good to see that regional museums can pull big exhibitions that used to be the privilege of Paris museums. Some of the paintings on show were never seen in France before.

  • Americans collectors were early to recognize the value of impressionism. Mary Cassatt did a great deal to advance the cause of her fellow artists with collectors in the United States. Antoine Vollard, the Parisian art dealer, also contributed to major impressionist works been bought in the US.
  • What we call “impressionism” covers a vast array of works and styles. On the other hand, it is fascinating to see how painters in the group influenced each other at some point, either on the technique used or the subjects. There is a painting from Pissarro titled “Ferme, basse-cour à Pontoise” representing some chickens and ducks in a farm. I was certain it was a Renoir until I read the label, as several trademarks of the later artist were present: the palette and in particular the use of pink and Prussian blue, as well as very fluid shapes with undefined edges.

  • One room has a selection of coloured lithographs by Mary Cassatt, an aspect of her work I did not know about. It is interesting to see how she adopted and made hers the japanese style.

  • There is nothing like seing the paintings in a gallery. Reproductions won’t tell you about glazes (like on the painting The road near the farm (1881) by Pissarro – Fine Art Museum of San Francisco), how layers are put on the canvas or brush works.

  • The exhibition has been extended until 23 September 2007. Don’t miss it if you are in the area.

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