St. Louis Art Museum Exhibit Gives a Broader View of Impressionism | Arts and theater
Impressionism is not just large paintings of water lilies or dappled skies and gardens.
A new exhibition at the St. Louis Art Museum shows that artists such as Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir also drew in pastel or pen and ink or experimented with lithography.
Titled “Impressionism and Beyond,” the free exhibit begins Feb. 1, when the museum will also reopen after a few weeks of pandemic-related closure.
As its title suggests, the exhibition goes “beyond” the Impressionist movement to show some of what followed.
“It represents a very good opportunity for people to learn more about Impressionism as a whole, as many artists were involved in printmaking and drawing in addition to painting,” says Abigail Yoder, a research assistant who curated the exhibition with Elizabeth Wyckoff. , curator of the museum’s prints, drawings and photographs.
Thus, in addition to a pastel work by Degas depicting his well-known ballet dancers, there is a lithograph of the famous “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.
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Although dancers were among the most popular subjects of Degas’ career, he also produced landscapes and etchings, Yoder says, showing “how experimental he was as an engraver”.
About sixty works will be exhibited, in particular drawings from the museum’s collection, which includes around 2,000 drawings and 15,000 prints. Some pieces have never been exhibited at the museum or have been in storage for many years (works on paper are more prone to damage from exposure to light). Two rarely seen drawings are by van Gogh.
Planning for the show began in 2019, Wyckoff says, with artwork ranging from the late 19th century to the 1930s. “We wanted to focus on this kind of generative period in Europe.”
“We think there will be a wonderful mix of familiar things and surprising things,” she says. “That’s one of the benefits of the ‘and beyond’ part of the show. People will see Impressionism, and they’ll recognize it, but they’ll be like, ‘wow, I didn’t know about these other directions that artists were going back then.’
The exhibition itself explains: “While some artists explored the science of color and light, approaching the fringes of abstraction, others depicted quieter, bucolic ways of life and the landscape with traditional means. The rich diversity of images and subjects represented in this exhibition presents a microcosm of a changing European world at the turn of the century as well as a glimpse of what was yet to come.
Most of the works come from the museum’s collection, but four pieces have been loaned by private collectors, including the famous “Scream”. This is in black and white, one of an estimated 30 lithographs (some in color) made. Munch actually painted four versions of “The Scream” before creating the lithographs. Her ability to spread the image widely may be one of the reasons she’s so well-known, Wyckoff says.
Munch’s depiction of internal emotional turmoil instead of actual characters is part of a group of “strange” subjects, as Wyckoff calls them, including Odilon Redon’s disembodied “Eyes in the Forest.”
Other subjects highlighted in the exhibition include fashion, landscapes and domestic interiors.
An interior decor by Berthe Morisot shows a young woman drawing. Unlike his male contemporaries, Morisot had no separate studio and frequently used his home as a stand-in, with family members as his subjects. She often showed her drawings, pastels and watercolors as well as oil paintings in exhibitions.
But if visitors miss seeing the traditional impressionist oil paintings themselves, they need only go to a nearby gallery.
What “Impressionism and beyond” • When February 1-July 31; hours are 10am-5pm Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday, 10am-9pm Friday • Or Galleries 234 and 235, St. Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive, Forest Park • How much To free • More information 314-721-0072; slam.org