The late 19th and early 20th century was a fertile moment in art history as artists began to challenge the status quo in their search for new expressions. This exhibition brings together outstanding treasures representing the dynamic ideas and theories that sprung forth from this time. Starting with the Impressionist pioneers Claude Monet, Gustave Caillebotte, and Alfred Sisley, these artists turned towards technological and scientific advances to capture a rapidly changing society both in the city and in the countryside. As the impact of Impressionism spread, artists like Frederick Carl Frieseke, John Hubbard Rich, and Henry Richter put a uniquely American spin on the movement’s tenets. At the same time, other artists spring-boarded into a new modernism.
From the representational modernism in John Singer Sargent, Robert Henri, Jessie Arms Botke, or Henrietta Shore to the surrealism of Salvador Dalí, these artists pushed our understanding of art and the boundaries of what was possible to achieve on a canvas. Other artists synthesized both the representational and the abstract within their canvases including Oswaldo Guayasamin and John Marin, the latter voted the greatest painter in the United States in 1948. Aesthetically beautiful and brimming with artistic theory, the artworks in this exhibition highlight the outstanding reach of artists now considered monumental figures in art history.
Highlights include Claude Monet’s “Le Mont Riboudet a Rouen au Printemps” captures the countryside outside of the rapidly developing Rouen. His careful brushstrokes of the fields and houses contrast with the muted tones of the soft sky, all in an effort to capture the changing light of a rural spring. Rouen would become a site that Monet returned to often. This painting was acquired by Paul Durand-Ruel who supported and championed the Impressionists. It was subsequently bought by fellow Impressionist, Gustave Caillebotte, whose work is also in the exhibition.
Robert Henri’s “Girl with Muff” exemplifies the modernism emerging in America. Henri was a leading figure of the Ashcan School of American realism. He helped to organize a group of artists known as “The Eight” who helped push the boundaries of acceptable art and challenged the cultural beliefs of the Gilded Age. The portrait showcases Henri’s individualized realism and exuberant humanism of everyday life.