Birth of Impressionism Exhibit

 

My wife Marilyn and I had a great time at the Birth of Impressionism show at the de Young Museum in San Francisco yesterday. The exhibit, containing paintings from the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, travels in the footsteps of one of the most celebrated art movements in history, Impressionism. Included in the show are paintings by Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Monet, Sisley and many others. It was interesting to see the transformation of the art world from the classical style of Bouguereau to the modern style developed by Degas, Monet and the others.

We also saw a companion exhibit at the Legion of Honor called Impressionist Paris: City of Light. This show mainly focuses on the graphic arts in the form of etchings, lithographs, and wood engravings from artists Gauguin, Degas, Daumia Mary Cassatt, Loutrec. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of etchings in the show and being an etcher myself, delighted in the detail and craftsmanship of the prints. Some of the best prints highlighted the narrow city street of Paris lit up with eclectic gas lamps. But one of my favorite pieces in the show was a small oil painting by Renoir called “La Loge,” which portrays a fashionable Parisian couple sitting in a theater box. It depicts a lavishly dressed young woman gazing at the viewer while a gentleman in the background looks through binoculars at another balcony above. By the end of the show I felt like running off to Paris for an extended vacation or more likely, snuggling up at home on the couch watching old black and white french movies wishing I was in Paris drawing and painting the narrow city streets.

Another special exhibit we saw was Paris sans fin: Alberto Giacometti’s Paris. These lithographic sketches of Paris’ city streets were especially inspiring for their looseness and lively impressions modern Paris of the mid twentieth century.

After viewing the special exhibits, Marilyn and I breezed through the permanent collection and another exhibit called Very Postmortem: Mummies and Medicine. This is where I finally had a moment to park myself on a bench and do a quick drawing of a sculpture called Saint James the Less. Although I didn’t get to draw much today, it was inspiring to see the work of the Impressionist movement.


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