Indepth Arts News: |
"Impression: Painting Quickly in France, 1860-1890"
2000-11-01 until 2001-01-28
UK United Kingdom
brings together some 70 works by the leading Impressionist masters, tracing
the development of rapid painting, and examining the risks involved, over
the course of three decades. In the 1860s Edouard Manet began to paint -
and, audaciously, to sign and exhibit as finished works - canvases in
which he exploited the speed and immediacy characteristic of oil sketches.
His example was taken up by a generation of innovative and admiring younger
artists, including Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and
Alfred Sisley, all of whom, at one or more points in their careers, turned
their hand to rapid, improvisatory painting.
Art history generally ... has neglected the hand. ... The aim of this
exhibition is to reopen the question of manual dexterity and to reconsider
the physical intelligence of artists by directly confronting paintings that
are, in themselves, direct. Thus writes Richard R. Brettell, guest curator,
in his preface to the catalogue that accompanies Impression: Painting
Quickly in France, 1860-1890.
For Brettell, some of the most daring Impressionist paintings are virtuoso
performances, improvisations on canvas where the artists display their skill
in evoking form and light with quick, deft touches of colour.
Not all their works were in
fact executed quickly; some may have involved several sessions. However,
they were meant to look as if they had been dashed off in the white heat of
The exhibition includes one of Renoirs finest landscapes, a view of a
humble hillside at Wargemont where the artist visited friends in the summer
of 1879. The composition is composed of veils of thin colour lightly and
quickly washed across the canvas in long, looping strokes. Although the
means are simple, nonetheless Renoir brilliantly evokes both the undulating
form of the hillside and the warm, moist atmosphere of a summer afternoon.
It gives the powerful impression that Renoir observed nature and as he did
so transcribed it to canvas almost without conscious thought or analysis,
but with that intelligence of the hand Brettell describes.
The exhibition is organised by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art
Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, in association with the National
Gallery, London, and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
Detail from Claude-Oscar Monet,
Regatta at Argenteuil,