Sunday, October 23, 2011

Road trip to Impressionism

Yesterday I had the good fortune to join with 4 of my fellow arts council members to trek on over to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture for its latest exhibits: "Seeing Impressionism", "Need/Want", and "Territory". I doubt we would have made the trip if not for the Impressionism exhibit, but the other two exhibits were quite interesting too. It was a blustery day, mostly overcast with off and on rain, so a good day to be inside a cozy museum. This is the sight that greeted once we arrived.

If you look closely at the right hand side of first photo, you can see a sculpture perched high. A close-up of "The Navigators" by Brad Rude reveals some interesting detail. There's quite a bit of outdoor sculpture here but we hustled inside for the main attraction.

Bandied about in the promotion for the exhibit were such names as Renoir and Degas, and promises of more depth than the Museum's own collection could provide on its own by partnering with The Tacoma Art Museum and private collectors. Yes, I could tell the Renoirs were to be the main draw.

But for my money, these Glackens were more exciting to see. You may recognize the one on the right - I've shared this painting before (see this post for why this painting is so important to me). It is in the collection of the Tacoma Art Museum and I dared not hope it would be included in this exhibit. I was thrilled to see "Natalie in a Blue Skirt" again after all these years. It was fascinating to compare her to the "Lady in the Wicker Chair" - two totally different personalities! They were right next to the Renoirs so I could see how the artists' styles compared.

The exhibit itself was curated to show paintings from the very first hints of impressionism and as the movement progressed, finally including its influence on Northwest artists. I've cropped the frame off this one by Ralph A. Blakelock called "The Black Opal." It was quite dark and small, but captivating, included for the way it shows how impressionism began to flatten the perspective of landscapes. I was drawn to it for the subject matter - one I've played with a lot. The moon in this one is fantastic.

Another darkish painting but coming later in the movement was "Mixed Flowers in a Vase" by Henri Fantin-Latour. The fascination for me was the way that white flower just glows off the canvas, drawing you from anywhere in the room for a closer look. And as you get closer, there's the sense that the flowers are rendered in much more detail than the actual brushstrokes bear out. Just beautiful.

The last painting I'll share is this lovely seascape called "Sunset" by the American painter Edward Lincoln Espey. It's those lavenders that captivated me. I don't associate that color with sunsets, which makes this unusual and intriguing to me.

I'll cover the other two exhibits in the next post. Remember you can click on any photo for a larger image.

1 comment:

Sherrie Spangler said...

Thanks for the gallery tour! I love the Impressionists, especially the color. Eagerly awaiting your next installments.