French impressionist masters create hot ticket at MFAH – Monet, Matisse and more dazzle
PViewers of the exhibition “Monet to Matisse: From Impressionism to Modernism at the Bemberg Foundation”, now on display at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, would be well advised to pre-register online for timed tickets at judging by the attendance observed during a recent visit. .
This charming display of beautiful perspectives rendered by a host of modern French masters undeniably has wide appeal due to its artistic content and more. For those looking for an uplifting diversion, an escape conducive to happiness from current worldly concerns (to use the French art of nuance), it is also a powerful draw.
Additionally, as MFAH Director and Margaret Alkek Williams President Gary Tinterow notes in the excellent audio guide, the Houston Museum is the only place in the United States for this exhibition, comprising around 90 paintings and works on paper from the “exceptional” collection of the late philanthropist Georges Bemberg (1915 to 2011.) The collection of paintings is normally housed in the Fondation Bemberg museum, currently closed for renovation, in the elegant French Renaissance hotel of Assezat in Toulouse.
The MFAH exhibition “places almost all the masters of modern France in their context,” explains Tinterow, citing among them renowned names such as Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Berthe Morisot, Paul Signac, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pierre Bonnard, who rightly has almost an entire room to accommodate works showing his evolution through different stages.
From gallery to gallery, spectators take a pleasant journey following attractive works illustrating the progression of the movements of French painting of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from Impressionism to Pointillism, including symbolism and fauvism. Those familiar with the works of artists from the same periods represented in the Beck building should be happy to see more of their works in this exhibition.
I highly recommend accessing the online audio guide preview before going to the exhibition to take advantage of the knowledgeable descriptions of the images selected by exhibition curators Ann Dumas and Helga Aurisch.
For example, Monet Boats on the beach of Etretat (1883, oil on canvas, Bemberg Collection) urges curators to discuss the Impressionist feature of painting outside (outdoors, outdoors), with Aurisch providing the intriguing nugget that “we also know that he (Monet) actually painted on the shores because there is sand on the canvases”.
“He liked to paint by the sea for the quality of the light,” notes Dumas. “He traveled and painted a whole series of views of this particular coastline. “
Such descriptions draw us into the exhibition, giving us a sense of empathy, intimacy and community with the admiring curators as well as with the painter and the time and place in which a particular work was made, making us want to see the real thing.
Tables that transport
Once we get there, there is the thrill of making a personal connection with paintings that depict scenes that we have been able to see and appreciate with keen senses on past vacations. We can relive the sensation of the gentle breezes and the rhythmic sound of the crashing waves, see the lush sight of tropical green landscapes, remember the specter of silhouettes of sailboats passing as slowly and gracefully as swans on a distant horizon, while still standing in the same place where many others stood before us in time, lost in similar visions.
We can be so transported looking at Eugène Boudin Crinolines on the beach (1863, oil on panel, Bemberg Collection).
Boudin (1824 to 1898) was among the first French landscape painters to paint outside. He painted many seaside scenes like Crinolines in its day, with fashionably dressed (and heavily) dressed ladies and gentlemen socializing on the sand under endless, cloud-swept skies.
In fact, Boudin would have created a new genre: “the beach scene(The beach scene, emerging in the 1860s as a social setting), and has been described as “the master of the sky”(The master of heaven) in a publication (Beaux Arts’ The exhibition journal) accompanying a 2013 Boudin exhibition at the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris – another type of precious Proustian souvenir.
You may well experience the same feeling of kinship with Georges Bemberg by choosing Bonnard as your favorite, especially when you come to Bonnard. Le Cannet (1930, oil on canvas, Bemberg Collection). This striking piece, which offers a panoramic view of the village of Le Cannet, is highlighted by brilliant colors of cadmium yellow and bold green.
It’s easy to see how the sun-drenched French Riviera could appeal to artists previously anchored in the city, ardently determined to capture, reproduce and extend the stimulating palette of vivid colors in a blissful new perspective of paradise, transmitted through the ages to grateful observers.
If there is one emotional theme running through this show, based on my impressions, it would be happiness. In fact, many participating artists were recognized in their time for their ability to evoke this feeling in viewers of their works. Gertrude Stein exclaimed “Raoul Dufy is pleasure! (Raoul Dufy is pleasure!) In a publication accompanying a 2008-09 retrospective of Dufy (1877-1953) at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris entitled “Raoul Dufy: the pleasure ” which elicited endless delighted smiles from me and other visitors.
To pre-register for this MFAH exhibition, which runs until September 19, go to the exhibition website and choose a month, date and time from the 15 minute segments displayed. As stated on the post, “face masks and social distancing are recommended” – advice that I strongly approve of, especially since there were more people in the exhibition galleries than I had. planned for the day of the week I visited.
Exhibition tickets are free for MFAH members and children 12 and under. Tickets are $ 23 for adults 19 and older, and $ 18 for people 65 and older, military personnel, students, and teens 13-18.