Exhibit Examines Radical Side of Impressionism

Art Business News, August 2001 | Go to article overview

Exhibit Examines Radical Side of Impressionism


Impressionism, by far the most popular of all art movements, has been the subject of hundreds of museum exhibitions. Yet none have been devoted to paintings that might be called "Impressions"--paintings that were originally hailed and condemned as a radical challenge to art given their spontaneous, "unfinished" qualities. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute has assembled just these works in the exhibit "Impression: Painting Quickly in France, 1860-1890." On view through Sept. 9, the exhibit presents 77 paintings by the artists most closely associated with Impressionism (Monet, Degas, Manet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley); by precursors (Corot, Daubigny, Daumier and Rousseau); and by a major successor, van Gogh.

The major aim of the exhibit is to re-radicalize the Impressionist movement by showing that the Impressionists' decision to paint fleeting subjects in a seemingly spontaneous, gestural style was, in fact, revolutionary.

"We have seen so many Impressionist paintings so many times that we have all but forgotten the risks that their makers took," wrote curator Richard R. Brettell in the catalog. …

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