I went in to the de Young today to see the "Birth of Impressionism" exhibit. It opens to the public this Saturday, June 22. Birth of Impressionism
. The Musée d'Orsay in Paris is being remodeled, and they have sent some of the most famous works here to San Francisco during the renovation. How lucky for us! This is the only venue where they will be exhibited in the US. The exhibit is in two parts. This first part extends through September 6, 2010.
The exhibition begins with some pieces that were representative of the conservative Salon pieces of the day that had allegorical, mythical and religious themes with the idealization of the female form. The brushwork was hardly noticeable and the surface of the canvas was silky smooth. Some of the works were monumental in size. If you've read any of the history of the Impressionist movement, you will know that the Impressionist group rebelled at this traditional Salon fare and that the Salon scoffed at the casual themes and loose gestural brushwork of this new radical group. It was a struggle of the "old" versus the "new" art. I have always been fascinated by this period in history and I think you will too. At any rate, it was a thrill to see in person some of the works I've been looking at and reading about for years.
Among many stunning and well known pieces, some highlights for me were "The Floor Scrapers" (Caillebot), "Study in Grey and Black" (Whistler-Whistler's Mother), "The Swing" (Renoir), "The Dancing Lesson" (Degas) and a snow scene by Monet and several wonderful pieces by Manet. Because Cezanne emerges in the latter part of the Impressionist movement, (he's really a Post-Impressionist), there were only three of his pieces. I love Cezanne and am looking forward to the second part of the exhibition from the d'Orsay in which I'm hoping there will be more Cezannes. I was disappointed there was only one piece of Berthe Morrisot's. She's one of my favorite Impressionists. One of the most surprising pieces was "The Pedicure" by Degas. An odd subject for a painting, I had never seen it before and I absolutely loved it! See it above.
I feel emotional when I am in the presence of great art and its history. Today was no exception. Standing in front of these masterpieces is a spiritual experience for me. No matter how many times I visit museums, it never changes. I am so grateful to be able to see these paintings, albeit sometimes through tears!
I leave for France on Saturday to teach a 10-day painting workshop. I am very excited about this. I will blog from Southwest France if there is an internet connection available. If not, then I'll be in touch after June 4th.