Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Timeline of Upcoming Art Exhibits

Taking the opportunity to attend an art exhibit at a nearby museum or gallery is a great idea. Whether as a special weekend outing or part of your itinerary while on vacation, spending time appreciating art, either alone, with friends or family, is a worthwhile endeavor that can provide benefits beyond mere entertainment. A trip to an art exhibit provides education, inspiration, an opportunity to foster a feeling of community among like-minded individuals or a chance to spend quality time with family members. Chances are there's a worthwhile exhibit close enough to easily enjoy. Here are a few to consider.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in N.Y. City has more art exhibits than any other museum in the world. One of their current offerings is an exhibition running through September 2015, featuring works of American artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007). The artist's 1982 Wall Drawing (#370), entitled Ten Geometric Figures, has been reproduced on a wall in Gallery 399. It will remain there for approximately 14 months, at which time it will be painted over. This was normal for LeWitt wall paintings, which were usually produced for a limited duration and typically scheduled for destruction.

A wonderful exhibit of prints and drawings from Mexico and southern Europe produced during the past 450 years is also being featured in Gallery 690 from July 15 through September 29, 2014. A special collection of prints and drawings by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), who was a prolific printmaker during his long career, demonstrates the wide variety of printing techniques explored by the artist.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. features an ongoing exhibit of "Master Drawings" from the Armand Hammer Collection, consisting of more than 50 pieces from some of the greatest draftsmen of the past 500 years, from 1470 through 1940. Featured artists include da Vinci, Raphael, Van Gogh, Picasso and many more covering a wide range of styles, techniques and studies.

While at the National Gallery, you may be interested in viewing the ongoing Marc Chagall mosaic entitled "Orphée," which is located in the Sculpture Garden. A first-time exhibition of Vincent Van Gogh's celebrated portrait series depicting postman Joseph Roulin is also running between June 8 and September 7, 2014 on the main floor of the West Building in Gallery 83. On loan from the Dutch museum Kröller-Müller, these portraits will hang alongside eight other Van Gogh paintings including "Roulin's Baby," the 1888 portrait of Marcelle, the Postman's infant daughter.

If you're familiar with London, perhaps you're already aware of the great number of quality art museums and galleries located in the city, many of which are available to visitors for no admission fee. Tate Modern, a National Museum of contemporary and modern art located Bankside on the Thames River, is hosting a one-of-a-kind exhibit from April 17 – September 7, 2014 featuring the innovative, colorful cut-outs produced by Henri Matisse (1869-1954) near the end of his career. More than 120 pieces are on display, most of which were produced between 1947 and 1953 when the artist's ill health made the physical activity of painting impossible. One of the most impressive is the 1953 piece entitled "Large Composition with Masks," a 10+ meter long cutout currently on loan from Washington's National Gallery of Art.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is currently closed for expansive reconstruction but they've moved many of their exhibits to other locations within the area for continued viewing. Henri Matisse fans will be pleased to know that a wonderful exhibition of his works is on display up until September 7, 2014 at the Legion of Honor Museum located at 100 34th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94121. The exhibit features a total of 23 of the artist's drawings, paintings and bronzes from SFMOFA, plus four others from the Matisse collection belonging to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The de Young Museum, which is part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, has a great exhibit going on until October 12, 2014 called Modernism from the National Gallery of Art. Featuring nearly 50 artworks from the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection, famous post-war modern and contemporary artists represented include Ellsworth Kelly, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg and more.

The Musée de l'Orangerie, home of eight of Claude Monet's "Water Lilies," is located in a corner of the Tuileries Garden in Paris. The museum also houses works by Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Modigliani, Renoir, Henri Rousseau and others. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, if you are able to be at the museum on July 29, August 12 or 26, 2014, at 11 a.m., you can attend an English-language workshop called "In Monet's Footsteps: From Garden to Canvas." The activities start in the garden, move to the display rooms housing Monet's Waterlilies, and end at the workshop where you'll paint your own canvas.

A Review of Impressionist Art

The impressionist art movement emerged during a time when all of Paris was undergoing sweeping change. Newly appointed emperor Napoleon III was implementing drastic changes throughout the city including the creation of grand boulevards, parks and squares as well as the modernization of France’s banking system. The approved art style during this time was quite different though. Works of art were only painted indoors and were in the form of lifelike, finished paintings that depicted religious and historical subjects. These toned-down works were judged at an annual art show called the Salon de Paris, which was controlled by the Académie des Beaux-Arts, a dominating force at the time. In the end, this style did not reflect the mood of some talented, young painters living in the city of Paris at the time.

This new wave of artists were dubbed "Impressionists" after an 1872 satirical review of Claude Monet's "Impression, soleil levant." Other artists in the group included Renoir, Sisley, Manet, Morisot, Cézanne, Pissaro and Guillaumin. The young artists broke many of the established rules, bringing their canvases outside to paint "en plein air" and concentrating on free brush strokes of vivid colors rather than focusing on contours and lines, emulating earlier examples provided by artists such as J.M.W. Turner and Eugène Delacroix. Works submitted to the annual Salon jury were often rejected. Between 1874-1886, the Impressionists held eight of their own exhibitions with the main commonalities between the artists being rebellion and independence. Similarities in technique included brushstrokes that were loose and spontaneously applied and a natural, modern interpretation of color and its relationship to sunlight.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), one of the founding members of the Impressionist Movement, was not only a prolific painter who once created as many as 15 paintings in little more than a month, but was also personally responsible for a significant addition to the artistic gene pool. He fathered actor Pierre, filmmaker Jean, and artist Claude, seen here as an infant in the 1904 lithograph called "Claude Renoir, Fils de l'Artiste, la Tête Baisbée." This translates to "The Artist's Son, Looking Downwards." The child was born in 1901 when Renoir was 60 years old and nearly immobile because of severe rheumatoid arthritis suffered from the age of 51.

This original lithograph was printed and published in Paris in 1919. The shifting bands of shadow and light on the child's face suggest the piece was done outside, perhaps under a shade tree, in the "en plein air" style favored by many Impressionists.

Édouard Manet (1832-1883), one of the original rebellious artists known as the Impressionists, was instrumental in transitioning 19th century French artists from Realism toward Impressionism. Two of his most famous paintings, "Olympia" and "The Luncheon on the Grass," both from 1863, caused shock, hostility, astonishment and great controversy within the established art world and, as such, became rallying points for the young Impressionist artists then striving to break with tradition.

This print of an original 1861 etching in brown on woven paper, entitled "Le Gamin," was one of several pieces Manet composed of boys with dogs, including etchings, drawings and paintings. He was well known for his compositions featuring children.

Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), one of the original young realists responsible for the Impressionist Movement, was both well-connected and well-respected by other French artists of her time. She began exhibiting at the prestigious Salon de Paris in 1864 and continued to do so for ten years. She then joined other Impressionists in personally exhibiting works that had been rejected by the Salon. Morisot was one of the first in her group to embrace "open air" painting, which she shared with others, including her brother-in-law Édouard Manet. This original etching and drypoint from 1887 is of Morisot's daughter, Julie Manet, published in 1910. As a drypoint, it was drawn on copper with a sharp needle, leaving burrs in the furrows, producing soft, velvety-looking lines.

If both Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse considered Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) "the father of us all," it was because of his positioning as a bridge between the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, including the Cubists. Paul Cézanne created many, many self-portraits during his lifetime and, as an artist, was prodigious. He created more than a thousand pieces during his career. This lithograph print, after the original 1898 lithograph, is unique in that most of Cézanne's self-portraits were done in oil on canvas. This print depicts the artist at about age 60.