Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Impressionists show at the Kimbell

Managed to squeeze into the member preview of the new Impressionists show at the Kimbell Art Museum. It's good show--a darned good show. I dare say it will be crowded as sin for the next couple of months, since hey--who doesn't love the Impressionists?

This show is a small chunk of the Chicago Art Institute's collection, come to visit us in Fort Worth whilst the Art Institute does a little remodeling. Better to get it out in the public eye than put it in cold storage. That being said, this isn't the second string, although some of the best known works stayed home. Still, with a collection like the Art Institute, there is an awful lot to choose from. In addition to the usual superstars like Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, Van Gogh and Gauguin, there are a healthy assortment of some their peers and influences.

The centerpiece of the show for me was Paris Street: Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte. Like several other pieces in the show, the composition shows the influence of the budding art of photography: while retaining some deliberately formal elements (e.g. the lamp post visually splitting the scene neatly in half), there is a certain casualness in the placement of figures and the point of view that is photographic.

This new sense of photographic "found" composition is in evidence in a number of other works: specifically the paintings and drawings of Degas, which are incredibly modern. Compare this to Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles, which despite its brilliant color, is fairly conservative compositionally.

I enjoyed seeing the Frédéric Bazille and the Pizzarros. I have a terrible confession: Renoir bores me to death. Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando is one of the few painting by Renoir I enjoy. The rest: mushy eye-candy.

There is much else to see, and I suspect the galleries will be crowded -- not the best way to view art. Seeing it in the middle of a week (after things have calmed down) is probably your best bet.

I lived in Chicago for a number of years. Seeing this was like a family reunion.