Sunday, March 27, 2011

Taft Museum: The American Impressionists In The Garden

I went to see the exhibit, The American Impressionists In The Garden, at the Taft Museum today. The exhibit will be there until May 15, 2011.

Impressionism is my favorite style and group of painters. The impressionistic movement began in 1870 in France. The name of the movement cane from the the title of a Claude Monet painting called Impression. Sunrise  which an art critic coined the term to be sarcastic in a review.

Here in America, artists mostly used the garden as their theme using the impressionistic style. The use of the garden was an ideal way to study light and color in landscape which is a key element in the impressionistic movement.

The only well known names in this exhibit were Childe Hassam and John Singer Sargent. That does not mean the talent was lacking. The first painting you see when entering the exhibit was a Monet inspired painting called Flower Garden by Louis Ritman, circa 1913.This is a beautiful painting of a lady picking flowers.  The garden was actually in Giverny, France at a neighbor of Claude Monet.

Impressionism is defined by the use of short, thick strokes of brightly colored paint instead of blending colors smoothly. I think this painting shows this definition well.                       

The painting of Japanese Lanterns by Luther Emerson van Gorder (left) was exquisite! This painting is a nod to John Singer Sargent's Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose which is my all time favorite of Sargents. Needless to day that when I spied this version I was in awe. I was amazed how similar the paintings were and how Van Gorder's lanterns glowed so brilliantly. For me the best painting in the exhibit.

Van Gorder was born in Warren, OH. He studied under William Merrit Chase and Emile Carolus-Duran at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Van Gorder met Sargent in London and was exposed to the work of Whistler. Van Gorder supported himself as a magazine illustrator. Definitely an artist I will do more research on.

My one surprise of the exhibit was the Sargent. It was in a style that I would never have picked to be a painting done by him. It was a dark woods in long thick strokes.  Nothing that I have seen from him before. It was not a painting that I particularly liked. Which is hard for me to say about my all time favorite artist.

The Taft is also showing a small exhibit from private lenders of Ohio Impressionists from Cincinnati. There were nine paintings from notables such as Herman Wessel, Richard Miller, and Edward Potthast. They were a nice extension to the larger exhibit.

As always, my group never leaves without seeing the fabulous Taft collection. We love the painting of Robert Louis Stevenson by Sargent; Whistler's At the Piano; Frank Duveneck;s The Cobbler's Apprentice and Portrait of a Man Rising from His Chair by Rembrandt. There are many other well known artists represented at the Taft such as Gainsborough, Hals, J.M.W. Turner, Millet, Ingres, Farny, Corot, Reynolds and many examples of Chinese pottery and religious artifacts. In my opinion this museum is the gem of Cincinnati.

If you are near Cincinnati I recommend that you stop by the Taft to see this well done exhibit. If you have seen these paintings let me know your opinion of them. Tell me about your favorite style or movement.



RH Carpenter said...

Thanks for reminding me that this is still showing - something else I had on my list to do and time is slipping away :(

Nancy Van Blaricom said...

What a great review of what you saw. It looks like it was wonderful. The lantern paintings .. both the Sargent and the van Gorder are wonderfully painted and both have brilliantly lit lanterns. Just beautiful. Thanks Gaylynn ... this was a fun read.

Gaylynn said...

Rhonda, I do hope you get to see this exhibit.

Nancy, I am glad that you enjoyed the review. The exhibit was put together by Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art Nashville, Tenn. Hopefully, it will come to a museum near you.

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