Kentucky Art Speaks

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity Coming to the Speed Art Museum!

In Kentucky Art Exhibits, Uncategorized on December 4, 2010 at 5:50 am

John Singer Sargent, Rosina, 1878.

The University of Louisville’s Speed Art Museum is proud to announce its most recent show – Impressionist Landscapes: Monet to Sargent
February 4 through May 22, 2011

Most of what follows was taken directly from the press release:

Impressionist Landscapes: Monet to Sargent is an exhibition of more than 60 exquisite Impressionist paintings. Comprising some of the finest Impressionist works from the extensive collection of the Brooklyn Museum in New York, as well as noted works from Kentucky collections, the exhibition presents a dazzling view of landscape paintings by groundbreaking French, other European, and American artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Also on view will be the exhibition The Gardens of Giverny: A View of Monet’s World, featuring photographs of the artist’s famous garden taken in 1974 by artist Stephen Shore.

Featuring works by leading French artists such as Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet, Georges Seurat, Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley— as well as significant American painters that were their contemporaries, including John Singer Sargent and Frederick Childe Hassam— this exhibition enables visitors to stroll through cityscapes and scenes of nature as portrayed through the Impressionists’ eyes. This vanguard of loosely associated artists successfully immortalized for us the fleeting, surprising beauty of the everyday through bright colors and brilliant brushwork. Their works depict lush views of shaded woodlands, glowing fields and crashing seas, as well as rooftops at dawn and people at play.

Few periods in art are more beloved today than the Impressionist era, partly because of the revolutionary nature of the movement and its beautiful use of color. Before Impressionism, French artists would paint mostly in their studios and their skills were measured by the standards of the Royal Academy in France. Painting in the 1860s and 1870s underwent dramatic changes in style and method. In plein-air painting, artists took their canvases outdoors into nature. Among the earliest works in the exhibition are Charles-François Daubigny’s The River Seine at Mantes (1856) and Gustave Courbet’s Island Rock (1862), which reveals the impact of plein-air sketching on landscapes of the time. Heirs to the plein-air tradition, French Impressionists such as Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro and Gustave Caillebotte, painted highly elaborate “impressions” — the seemingly spontaneous, rapidly executed landscapes that prompted the name of their movement.

Landscape painting had been a part of the European tradition for centuries. However until the 19th century landscapes typically served to tell a story or provide the setting for mythological, historical or literary tales. The new generation of artists would depict nature not as a dramatic backdrop, but as a subject of inherent beauty and dignity. These landscapes of the late 19th century and early 20th century became popular in part because of the desires of urban patrons who found themselves cut off from nature after having flocked to the bustling cities of the industrial age.

Beginning in the mid 19th century, many artists from other European countries and America set out to find inspiration in France, attending French art academies and frequenting the painting locations made famous by their Barbizon and Impressionist predecessors. Many American artists’ were especially inspired by French Impressionism; some even had direct contact with leading French painters, sharing landscape sights or seeking informal guidance from admired mentors. The American works on display in the Speed’s special exhibition demonstrate the eagerness of these artists to retain their progressive aesthetics after returning home. Their works depict beaches, factories, tenements and recognizable landmarks such as Central Park, distinguished by lively broken brushwork and brilliant colors. The Americans delighted in presenting images of people at play such as William Glackens’ Bathing at Bellport, Long Island (1912) and John Singer Sargent’s Dolce Far Niente (1907) (loosely translated as Carefree Idleness) or depicting locations such as in Willimantic Thread Factory (1893) by Julian Alden Weir and Robert Spencer’s The White Tenement (1913).

Background and Information for Visitors
The special companion exhibition The Gardens at Giverny: A View of Monet’s World; Photographs by Stephen Shore is included with admission. In this 1974 portfolio, Shore captures on film the place that inspired some of Monet’s most beloved works. Today the gardens, and Shore’s photographs, stand as a testament to in the importance of Giverny in Monet’s life and work.

Admission to Impressionist Landscapes: Monet to Sargent is $5 for Museum members, $10 for non-members. Group rates are available by calling 502.634.2960 or by e-mailing As a special holiday promotion, when you buy three tickets you will receive one free through December 26, 2010. Tickets are now on sale.

  1. Just a quick correction – the Speed Museum is not operated by the University, it is independent (although we have a wonderful relationship with UofL).
    Do come see the exhibition!
    Todd Lowe
    Chair – Speed Board of Trustees

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