OKCMOA Presents Passport to Paris: Nineteenth-Century French Prints from Georgia Museum

Edouard Manet’s Olympia

Passport to Paris: Nineteenth-Century French Prints from the Georgia Museum of Art will be on view at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art through June 7, 2009. Featuring 46 works from the Georgia Museum of Art’s collection, the exhibition embodies the variety of illustrious prints made in the nineteenth century that rival the prominent paintings of that period.

Many of the masters presented in this exhibition are renowned for their accomplishments in sculpture and painting, while others, rediscovered in this century, are receiving recognition once again for their prints. These works draw attention to the artists’ experimentation with and refinement of earlier techniques, such as lithography, etching, and woodcut. Also of particular significance, printmakers of the nineteenth century furthered the imaging of a variety of themes, finding inspiration in the countryside, peasant life, and the urban landscape.

Rural landscapes, a significant theme in art since the seventeenth century, experienced a rebirth in the gifted hands of the BarbizonCharles Emile Jacques’s Chopping Wood in the Yard and Charles François Daubigny’s Voyage de Nuit are works in this exhibition that represent the attention to light and detail that the Barbizon school artists mastered. painter-printmakers.

Images of urban life and architecture, on the other hand, were not a widespread theme until the nineteenth century. The peasant captured the interest of the printmakers at the beginning of the nineteenth century, following the French Revolution, as a noble toiler. As the century ended, with the onslaught of the Industrial Revolution, artists embraced the plight of the poor, their compassionate glances reflecting a loosening of restrictions on acceptable subject matter. Attention to daily life of peasants is evident in Berthe Morisot’s Fillete au Chat and JeanFrançoisMillet’s Les Bêcheurs.

Other prints, such as Charles Meryon’s Château de ChenonceauFélix Buhot’s A Landing in England, involve the structures of the city. These prints reflect the intriguing variety of cityscape images featured in the exhibition, displaying visions of picturesque Gothicism to the murky wharf side. and

Many artists did not utilize lithography, invented in 1798 inGermany as an inexpensive commercial process, until the nineteenth century. This printing technique involves drawing on a stone surface with a crayon. Due to lithography’s connection to drawing, artists, who were uncomfortable carving with metal tools against a resin ground or metal plate, embraced this printing technique. The relative simplicity of the technique and the similarity in line and tonal quality to drawing appealed to artists such as Jean-Louis-André-Théodore Géricault, who is considered by some to be the father of the romantic movement of painting in France in the first half of the century. Honoré Daumier, a graphic satirist and master of the medium, was a prolific lithographer. One of Daumier’s prints from his Marital Customs series is included in the exhibition, as are prints by Paul Gavarni, who has been compared to Daumier.

The use of lithography declined after 1850. It was not until late in the century that the visionary lithographs of Odilon Redon and the design and color innovations of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec revived interest in the medium. Passport to Paris includes Redon’s There are basaltic columns everywhere,…Rays of light fall from the Vaults and Toulouse-Lautrec’s Déclaration.

The formation of the Societe des Aquafortistes induced many artists to take up etching, also contributing to the revival of printmaking. Felix Braquemond and Henri Fantin-Latour are just two of its members presented in the exhibition. Edouard Manet’s Olympia, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s The Hat Pin, JamesAbbottMcNeillWhistler’s Mother Gerrard, and Paul Cézanne’s Landscape at Auvers are other exemplary etchings featured as well.

Mary Cassatt’s La Coiffure, the only color work in Passport to Paris, and PaulGauguin’s Human Miseries, an innovative woodcut, are additional highlights of the exhibit. Cassatt’s use of delicate, flat colors, decorative patterns, and curved lines in The Coiffure make this one of her finest prints. While the prevalent theme of Cassatt’s work is motherhood, Gauguin’s prints focus on Tahitian subject matter, and Human Miseries reflects his revolutionary cutting and printing techniques.

Passport to Paris presents momentous examples of the themes, techniques, and styles that propelled nineteenth-century artists into the limelight. The prints featured in the exhibition include gifts to the Georgia Museum of Art from museum founder Alfred H.Holbrook and Dr. and Mrs. S. William Pelletier.

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Published in: on May 5, 2009 at 2:14 am  Leave a Comment  

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