January 25 - April 21, 2013

Admission:

Adults:$15
Seniors & Military:$12
Students:$5
Children (5 & under): Free
Members:Free

Free Sunday admission and reciprocal membership programs do not apply to this exhibition.

The Impressionists' desire to look at the world with a new freshness and immediacy continues to appeal to audiences today, making it the most popular style of painting in the world. The Impressionists were radical in their own time because "High Art" was supposed to depict gods, heroes and wars subjects believed to be timeless. Instead, they painted the world we actually live in, one with average people seated having a drink at a café, train stations, dancers, or an empty field of poppies. Instead of creating painstakingly detailed paintings, they explored the way we actually see: they saw and captured the purple and blue of shadows, and the vibrating yellow, pink and green colors of the sky. Critics of the 19th century saw them as scandalous and the word "impressionist" was originally an insult. Now, we see that the Impressionists were really the first modern artists, painting contemporary life around them.

Typical of the Impressionists' approach is Claude Monet's Village Street of 1871. The scene is humble and ordinary, but the real subject is the dramatic play of light and shadow moving across the street in broad swaths of energetic paint. A freshening wind enlivens the sky, and swiftly applied daubs of green define the foliage. Monet's art dances between realism and abstraction as it evokes nature's atmosphere at the same time it calls attention to the reality of paint itself on the canvas.

In a similar way, Pierre-Auguste Renoir creates a world of color by painting a single slice of the English Channel in his swirl of color entitled, The Wave, from 1882. In The Wave, we see how important color itself was to the Impressionists. The result of this passion for color was a style of painting unparalleled for its scintillating surfaces and dynamic color relationships.

Figurative work in the show includes Edgar Degas' Dancer Adjusting Her Shoe, 1885, a prime example of Degas' breathtakingly fluid draftsmanship and near-photographic instinct for capturing a fleeting moment. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's Dancer Seated on a Pink Divan, c. 1883, is more stately in its quiet, lucid presentation of a dancer at rest, but no less fresh in its sense of freezing an intimate and unguarded moment in time.

In Henri Matisse's bold canvas, The Palace, Belle Ile, visitors see a very young Matisse moving away from Impressionism toward the powerful and arbitrary color for which he is famous and which inspired so much modern art to follow.

Indeed, the father of modernist painting, Paul Cézanne, is present in this show with a painting entitled, Trees and Rocks near the Chateau Noir, c. 1900. In his striking use of flat, intersecting planes of color, one sees his painting as standing on the precipice of Cubism and the many movements that would follow in his wake.

Beyond Impressionism, this extraordinary show includes the work of post-Impressionists Maximilien Luce and Henri-Edmond Cross who are so called because they wished to bring a more systematic approach to color theory into Impressionism. Inspired by Georges Seurat, their use of carefully plotted, tiny dots of color coalesce into solid images of hillsides and castles bathed in electric light.

Impressionism from Monet to Matisse features a few surprises with the inclusion of a number of academic paintings meaning, detailed, traditional painting – to show visitors a contrast to the Impressionist and modern paintings. The highlight is Henri Fantin-Latour's elegant and precious Still Life of 1869. Modest in its subject matter a simple vase of white flowers behind a bowl of mixed fruits is as refined and poetic as it is unpretentious. For artists and visitors, this still life is a grand lesson in the power of simplicity mixed with discipline.

"The rewards in seeing a show like Impressionism from Monet to Matisse are really too numerous to mention," CMA chief curator, Will South, said. "There is the sheer joy of the art itself, alive with color and optimism. There is the serious inquiry into the intellectual stimulation possible via sophisticated composition, and there is the unadulterated fun of comparing one great artist to another. This is a show full of artistic richness where one may meditate for hours on why painting continues to fire our imaginations."

Images

Presented By:

  • BB&T

Supporting Sponsors

  • SCE&G
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Columbia Marriott
  • Dr. Suzan D. Boyd and Mr. M. Edward Sellers
  • Helen and John Hill

Contributing Sponsors

  • Family Medicine Centers of South Carolina, P.A.
  • Smith Family Foundation
  • Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.
  • Pierrine and Hootie Johnson Fund of the Central Carolina Community Foundation
  • Colonial Life
  • Dr. and Mrs. Thomas E. Hearon, III and Mary Kent Hearon
  • Ms. Jodie W. McLean and Mr. Pierre de Lucy
  • Michel G. Moore
  • Ginny Newell and Bob Wilkins
  • Mrs. Myrtle T. Robinson in memory of Dr. Robert E. Robinson
  • Dr. Caroline B. Whitson
  • Kathy Olson and Robert Barnett
  • Richland County

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