SALT LAKE CITY, UT.- This summer the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) presents the highly acclaimed exhibition Monet to Picasso from the Cleveland Museum of Art. The show features 100 years of European masterworks and the UMFA is privileged to be among only four North American venues selected to host this marquee international touring exhibition. The works on display in this show have never been to Utah before.
During its three-month run at the UMFA, Monet to Picasso features works by the leading artists of the European Modernist movements, dating from 1864 to 1964. More than seventy paintings and sculptures by luminaries of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism are gathered together in this singular exhibition. Most notably, the exhibition includes key works by Gustave Courbet, Pierre August Renoir, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Pierre Bonnard, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Henri Matisse, Rene Magritte, Georges Braque, Max Ernst, Piet Mondrian, Henry Moore, and Salvador Dalí.
This exhibition is a unique and tremendously exciting opportunity for all art-lovers living in the region, said Gretchen Dietrich, UMFA director of public programs and curatorial affairs. The works of art that comprise the exhibition are by some of the worlds most loved artists and together, they tell the fascinating story of the European Modernism development from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. We are proud to be hosting an exhibition of this caliber and confident that all those who come to see the exhibition and participate in the public programming that we have organized to complement it, will have a memorable and thrilling experience.
The works in Monet to Picasso reveal a period of artistic innovation that profoundly changed the course of European art. Visitors to this extraordinary exhibition will have the rare opportunity to see a remarkable gathering of work by some of the most important modern masters of the last two centuries.
The 74 masterworks of Impressionist and modern European art in Monet to Picasso from the Cleveland Museum of Art illuminate one of art historys most compelling stories: how masters from Claude Monet and Edgar Degas to Piet Mondrian and Pablo Picasso opened the visual arts to wider and more varied spheres of experience. The paintings and sculptures on view in this exhibition demonstrate the ways in which artists built on one anothers ideas and discoveries while making their own distinctive contributions to the history of art. Friendship and rivalry, creativity and rebellion, new ways of seeing and unconventional techniques are recurring themes in this sweeping presentation of works by Europes modern masters.
FROM REALISM TO SURREALISM
As Europe faced a series of social, political, and economic upheavals between 1860 and 1960, the art world also underwent major transformations as a series of movements and stylistic developments rapidly succeeded one another.
In mid-nineteenth century Paris, the annual Salon of the governments Academy of Fine Arts was the major venue for artists to exhibit their work, win prizes, and attract patrons. However, Salon juries systematically rejected work that did not conform to traditional subject matter, standards of beauty, and style. Progressive artists grew increasingly dissatisfi ed with a system that favored the conservative over the innovative.
Even before the author and critic Charles Baudelaire (18211867) made his famous call in 1863 for art that expressed the heroism of modern life, Gustave Courbet had already begun painting it. He created images of peasants and laborers in rural landscapes in a direct style known as Realism. With his provocative pictures of ordinary people exhibited at the Salon in the late 1840s and early 1850s, Courbet caused one scandal after another. A decade later, another painter, Édouard Manet, shocked Salon juries and the public even more with his brazen nudes and loose brushwork.
The next generation of artists found inspiration in both Courbets and Manets defi ance of academic standards, but blazed a new and different artistic path. They focused on portraits of the upper middle class, themes of urban and suburban leisure, and landscapes. These artists, who came to be known as the Impressionists, often painted outdoors, or en plein air. Throughout the 1860s and early 1870s, many of them continued submitting their work to the Salon. Their work, however, was often displayed where it could not be easily seen, or it was rejected outright.
THE AGE OF IMPRESSIONISM
Turning their backs on the French academic system, thirty artists agreed to boycott the 1874 Salon and instead exhibited together in the studio of the photographer Nadar in Paris. Led by Claude Monet, the group included Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, Berthe Morisot, and Pierre Auguste Renoir. They called themselves the Société anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc. A hostile critic, however, branded them impressionists in response to Monets sketchy view of a harbor under morning fog entitled Impression: Sunrise. Soon the artists embraced this name for themselves. Like Monet, many members of the group shared a profound interest in atmospheric effects and used vibrant colors and short, rapid brushstrokes. But what united the artists more than any name or shared style were the close friendships and rivalries that encouraged the development of new ideas.
Many significant painters of this period, most notably Édouard Manet, never joined the Impressionists because they still considered the Salon the best arena in which to compete. Nonetheless, they thoughtfully responded to the Impressionists in their own work and shared some of the same subject matter.
Used to describe French painting that came directly on the heels of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism attempted to move beyond its perceived limitations. The term is generally applied to the work of its four most signifi cant artists: Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin. These artists continued using the vivid colors, distinctive brushstrokes, and contemporary subject matter of the Impressionists, but emphasized geometric shapes, distorted form for expressive effect, and unnatural or arbitrary color. They were dissatisfied with the lack of structure in Impressionist paintings, yet they did not agree on a single structural method and pursued independent artistic paths.
Cézanne set out to restore a sense of order and structure to painting, which he achieved by reducing objects to basic shapes such as cones, cylinders, and spheres. Van Gogh used color and vibrant swirling brushstrokes to convey his feelings and his state of mind, while Gauguin employed large areas of unmodulated color outlined in black as part of his effort to capture primeval emotion. Gauguin and the Symbolists also reacted against the slavish imitation of nature by creating images inspired by memory and imagination.
RODIN AND EARLY MODERN SCULPTURE
Auguste Rodin redefi ned sculpture during the same period the Impressionists revolutionized painting. Like them, he struggled to gain entry into the Salon and to receive government commissions. After failing three times to win the French academys prestigious Prix de Rome, Rodin traveled independently to Italy, where he studied the art of the Renaissance, including the bronze sculptures of Donatello and Ghiberti and the marble statues, frescoes, and drawings of Michelangelo. Rodins conception of the body and its expressive potential, as well as his working methods and technique, all show a clear debt to Renaissance art.
During his lifetime, Rodin made multiple casts from the same plaster models. Even more casts of his works were made after his death. For this reason, it is possible to see similar versions of Rodins famous sculptures in museums around the world.
THE ART OF PICASSO
Pablo Picasso achieved legendary status in his lifetime for his virtuosic technique and numerous inventive styles. Originally from Spain, he initially studied art with his father in Barcelona and later at the Royal Art Academy in Madrid. He made his fi rst trip to Paris in 1900, and invigorated by the citys vibrant and creative atmosphere, moved there in 1904. His early work is characterized by a melancholic mood and dominated by the color blue, as in his masterwork from this time, La Vie of 1903. The Blue Period gave way to the warmer tonalities of the Rose Period and a corresponding new interest in acrobats and clowns. He often portrayed himself in the guise of Harlequina hapless entertainer who lives on the margins of society, barely earning enough money to survive.
Together with Georges Braque, Picasso invented and developed Cubism between 1907 and 1914, introducing a new way of seeing through the radical reinvention of pictorial space. Picasso and Braque fracture objects and fi gures into geometric planes and forms, and represented them simultaneously from multiple points of view. In doing so, they abandoned the conventional methods used by artists since the Renaissance for creating the illusion of three-dimensional space. Through the teens and beyond, Cubism was pushed in new directions, and in the hands of other artists, eventually led to complete abstraction.
MODERN ARTISTS FROM ACROSS EUROPE
In 1909 Henri Matisse established an informal school in an empty convent in Paris, attracting most of his students from outside of France. As the art capital of the world, Paris provided unparalleled conditions for the formation and exchange of creative ideas. The citys private art academies, independent and official exhibitions, and wealth of dealers and patrons drew artists from across Europe. Some foreign artists, such as Amadeo Modigliani and Chaim Soutine, stayed in the French capital for the remainder of their careers, while others eventually returned home to become leaders of avant-garde movements there.
Inspired by the Impressionists and the Post-Impressionists in France, progressive artists in Germany withdrew from the academic system to form independent exhibiting associations in the fi nal decade of the nineteenth century. Known as Secessions, these breaks with the official art establishment took place first in the major art centers of Munich and Berlin before spreading to smaller cities such as Dresden. The Secessions paved the road for the formation of even more rebellious groups of young artists known as Die Brücke (The Bridge), founded in Dresden in 1905, and Der Blaue Reiter (the Blue Rider), founded in Berlin in 1911. These artists became known as Expressionists for their heightened emphasis on emotion and use of strong, assertive forms, acrid colors, and sinuous lines.
Surrealism originated in Paris in the mid-1920s as a literary movement inspired by the new fi eld of psychoanalysis. Of utmost importance to Surrealism were Sigmund Freuds (1856-1939) theories about free association, dream analysis, and the unconscious mind. Under the direction of André Breton (18961966), a writer trained in medicine and psychiatry, Surrealism became a pan-European phenomenon that spread to theater, fi lm, music, and painting.
In the public imagination, no artist is more closely associated with Surrealism than the larger-than-life Spaniard, Salvador Dalí, followed closely by the highly experimental German painter Max Ernst and the Belgian René Magritte. Breton courted Picasso, but the artist always remained peripheral to the movement, even though his work often illustrated Surrealist publications.
Surrealism remained vital through the 1930s, but during World War II many of its leading artists fled Europe for the United States. There they inspired the development of a new artistic movement: Abstract Expressionism. New York eclipsed Paris as the Western worlds greatest artistic center, thereby ending a major chapter in the history of modern art.