MUSKEGON, MI.- The Muskegon Museum of Art opens an ambitious summer exhibition of Sunlight in a Paintbrush: American Impressionism from Regional Collections, the first major loan exhibition the MMA has organized in over a decade.
Impressionism, an art movement that arose in the 1860s in France with such well-known artists as Claude Monet, is one of the most beloved art styles of all time. American Impressionism evolved from the European version, but was also flavored by other European and American influences. Over two years ago, MMA Senior Curator E. Jane Connell conceived the idea that the story of American Impressionism would be an interesting foundation for an exhibition, and certainly one that would relate to the strengths of the Museums own collection. Before long, Connell began laying the groundwork for an exhibition that would represent the interesting and diverse range of American Impressionism. She selected nearly 50 exceptional paintings from the MMAs holdings and from upper Midwestern public and private collections. She then set about arranging the many loans of artwork from museums and individuals in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana that would complete her vision.
The resulting long-awaited Sunlight in a Paintbrush will be on display throughout the summer in the main gallery of the MMAs historic Hackley wing. Adjacent galleries will feature significant European and American works from the MMAs renowned collection that influenced the development of American Impressionism.
American Impressionism flourished in the United States in 1905 when local lumber baron Charles Hackley earmarked funds in his will to purchase pictures of the best kind for the citizens of Muskegon. It was still popular in 1912 when the Hackley Art Gallery (the Muskegon Museum of Art since 1979) opened to the public. In 1912 and beyond, Impressionist and Tonalist pictures were avidly collected by the Museum, including works by French Impressionists Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley; Barbizon painters Théodore Rousseau and Camille Corot; American Impressionists Willard Metcalf and Robert Reid; West Michigan artists Mathias Alten and Gregory Smith; and American Tonalist painters James A. M. Whistler and Charles Warren Eaton.