Pissarro at Musee Marmottan

 

Camille Pissarro, the First Impressionist,” at the Musée Marmottan Monet, is the artist’s first retrospective exhibit in Paris in forty years, and a joy to behold. The sixty masterpieces on view come from major museums and private collections around the world.

The show traces Pissarro’s technical evolution, from his early work, depicting the island of his youth in the Danish West Indies (now the US Virgin Islands), to his plein air studies of the French countryside, for which he is best known, and eventually his urban vistas of Rouen, Le Havre and Paris.

As his career progressed, Pissarro’s landscapes shifted from mostly dark tones to the Impressionist palette that he developed with contemporaries Cézanne, Monet, Manet, Renoir, and Degas. These works, prioritizing light over detail, are wondrously fresh and invigorating nearly a century and a half later.

Said one art critic of Pissarro’s revelatory color choices: “Try to make M. Pissarro understand that trees are not violet, that sky is not the color of fresh butter …”

But the show celebrates much more than landscape. Throughout his career, Pissarro took a profound interest in the relationship of people to their environments.

Two Women Chatting by the Sea,” an early work, exemplifies both high technical quality and the depth of the artist’s regard for humanity.

Have you seen this exhibit? What did you think?

 

Off the Beaten Path: Mary Cassatt at the Mona Bismarck American Center

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The Mona Bismarck American Center for art and culture, in the 16th, is showing Mary Cassatt in Paris: Prints & Drawings from the Ambroise Vollard Collection.

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), was an American Impressionist who lived in Paris, and is best known for her portrayals of mothers and children.

The goal of the Bismarck Center is to strengthen links between the US and France through exhibits, classes, concerts, and other cultural events held at the center’s townhouse overlooking the Seine, the former residence of philanthropist Mona Bismarck.

Thus, art, architecture, history and international relations all come together in this delightful expo.

Seventy prints, drawings, etchings and aquatints, all purchased from Cassatt by art dealer Ambroise Vollard, not only better acquaint us with her work, but provide a wonderful visual record of her creative process.

Until Jan 20, 2013

 

Les Frères Caillbotte at Musée Jacquemart-André

Freres Caillebotte at Musee Jacquemart-Andre

Dans l’Intimité des Frères Caillebotte, Painting and Photography, at Musée Jacquemart-André, offers an in-depth look at the work of Gustave Caillebotte – as well as an introduction to his brother, photographer Martial Caillebotte.

It’s well known that photography influenced the Impressionists in the second half of the 19th century. But the story of les frères Caillebotte is the reverse. Gustave began painting nearly 20 years before Martial launched himself into photography.

Divided into 5 sections, the show compares subjects and perspectives in the brothers’ work; it shows us their family life, accompanies them in their pursuits of gardening and yatching, and shares their views of a new, modern landscape.

Two tips: First, go early on a weekday if possible; the rooms are small and can get crowded after lunch and on weekends.

Second, lovers of Impressionism would do well to see this exhibit in conjunction with Paris au Temps des Impressionistes (Paris in the time of the Impressionists) at Hôtel de Ville.

Okay, third suggestion: Tickets include admission to the permanent collection at the Musée Jacquemart-André, which is sublime. Give yourself an additional hour to take it in.

Until July 11, 2011.