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November 27, 1979 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-11-27

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The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, November 27, 1979-Page 5

A T THE AR TGALLERY:

A broad view of impressionism

By JONATHAN KUHN
Everyone, it seems, loves Impression-
ism (even those who have never step-
ped foot in a museum will tell you that
they do ). There are certain
qualities-the light filled-canvases and
rich colors-in many Impressionist
paintings that prove to be irresistable.
Yet there are many myths and miscon-
ceptions that have arisen concerning

and green frame, and many works of
the Impressionists around 1880 would
have been, exhibited in a similarly
shocking way. The use of bright com-
plementary colors in the mounting is
meant to illustrate the Impressionist's
interest in color experimentation.
A large oil painting by Gustave
Caillebotte, Boating on the Yerre, of-
fers a marvelous example of Im-
pressionism at its height. Caillebotte is

paintings by Mary Cassatt, Marie
Bracquemond, and Berthe
Morrisot-the three women in the Im-
pressionist movement-have been
grouped together. The central work,
Bracquemond, is a pleasant surprise.
Her work certainly owes some of its
technique to the feathery brushwork
and figural compositions of Renoir, yet
this painting of three persons ("On the
Terrace at Sevres") achieves a

tempted a narrative realism that
caused dissent among the Im-
pressionist group. Rafaelli is represen-
ted here by four works, including one
which is quite fine-The Absinthe
Drinkers-depicting with much sen-
sitivity two well-to-do men who have
fallen upon hard times.
The premise in planning this
exhibition as that Impressionism was
not an homogeneous movement. The
wide span of painterly technique seen in
the show-from Monet to
Rafaelli-backs this premise with
graphic proof. Several works, such as
Renoir's jarring view of St. Mark's,
force us to reassess our preconceptions
radically. Also, the care that has been
taken to represent all but two of the Im-
pressionists who exhibited between 1878
and 1882, the crucial years of "crisis,"
agrees neatly with the egalitarian prin-
ciples uf, the Impressionist movement.
"The Crisis of Impressionism" is a
fascinating show with both historical
and artistic significance. Due to the
nature of its approach-to represent the
full range of the Impressionist painters
and their various styles-there is an
unevenness in the quality of the works.
Yet there are certainly enough gems to
make a trip to the art museum a must.
ARE YOU LETTING
CLASSES GET TO
YOU?
00
RELAX
Take a break
... you deserve it!

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Jean- francois Raffaelli:
The Absinthe Drinkers

ORSON WELLES'

1942

THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS
TIM HOLT plays the young son and newly-appointed heir to a proud old
family fortune going headlong into decline. DOLORES COSTELLO as his
overly-indulgent mother, JOSEPH COTTON as her upstart industrial suitor,
AGNES MOOREHEAD and ANN BAXTER round out the talented cast. ORSON
WELLS supplies the narration and does the direction.
Wed: GOING PLACES

CINEMA GUILD

TONIGHT AT
7:00 & 9:05

OLD ARCH. AUD.
$1.50

1

1

v

Edgar Degas: Rehearsal in the studio

this artistic movement. The current
exhibit at the University's Museum of
Art-"The Crisis of Impressionism"
(Nev. 2nd-Jan. 6th)-does much to
dispel these myths.
The name "Impressionism" is a
misnomer. It is a title that suggests an
unfinished quality and carries negative
connotations of something incomplete.
Furthermore, as a term meant to em-
brace the widemange of artists from
Monet to Degas, it implies a sameness
that observation does not beat our.
Three years ago, the University
museum acquired La Debacle by
Claude Monet. The painting depicts
floting ice. History of art professor Joel
Isaacson and Bret Waller, Director of
the Museum, observed that the new
acquisition did not correspond to the
popular notion of Impressionist art. Its
muted colors and somber mood clashes
with the sunny image we usually en-
vision. This painting became the im-
petus for "The Crisis of Impression-
ims." and determined its approach: to
show the varying currents of the Im-
pressionist movement and to represent
the internal dissention among its mem-
bers. Organized by guest curator, Joel
Isaacson, the exhibition includes works
from private and public collections. in
the U.S. and abroad.
THE SHOW focuses on the years 1878-
82, and many of the works currently on
display actually appeared in the
original Impressionist exhibitions. In
1877, the group officially adopted the
title, "Impressionists," one that had
first been coined by their critics. By
1879 however, in an effort at reaffir-
ming their original purpose to allow ar-
tistic freedom, the name was switched
to the more political "Independents."
Despite these efforts at encouraging in-
dividuality, the group had become
polarized into two camps.
The layout of the exhibition at the
University art gallery clearly stresses
thin division. In the south gallery are
works by those who considered them-
selves "true Impressionists:" The
colorists who often painted landscapes.
These include Monet, Renoir, Pisarro,
and others.
In the north wing are works by the
"realists." This group consists of
Degas and his followers, who concen-
trated mostly upon scenes of urban life
and figural studies. The factional
disputes between the various painters,
along with various defactions and per-
sonal problems, constitute the "crisis"
to which the exhibit's title refers.
Impressionism as a unified
movement was never well defined, and
its members banded together more as a
rejection of the academic Salon, then
due to a close artistic kinship.
THE ETCHING by Mary Cassatt in-
troduces the show. The print is mounted
with a startling combination of red mat

able to capture the shimmering water
and expansive scenery with
breathtaking ability.
In the same room, four landscapes by
Monet-the leader of the "pure Im-
pressionists"-are placed side by side.
The painting, Sunset on the Seine, Win-
ter Effect (1880), is the most powerful
composition of these. It has a sketchy,
spontaneous touch, and indeed Monet
considered it a very personal work-so.
much so that he did not submit it with
three paintings he sent to the Salon in
the same year.
A PAINTING in the rotun-
da-Renoir's view of St. Mark's Square
in Venice-highlights some of the
problems to which the Impressionists
were succeptible. Venice is a subject
that has always appealed to painters
due to its spectacular light and roman-
tic setting. Renoir's treatment of the
subject is a tour-de-force, yet a tour-de-
force bordering on confusion. The paint
was applied with great fervor, creating
swirling motions and blurred images.
Yet Renoir's subject conflicts with his
method. He takes a Gothic-Byzantine
church-with all its elaborate or-
nament-and breaks it down further,
thus fracturing something that was
quite "busy" to begin with. His pain-
ting, although undeniably dynamic and
in parts quite beautiful, suffers due to
coloristic excesses.
The art in the north gallery presents
the less romanticized side of Im-
pressionism. On the right hand wall,

mysterious atmosphere and
exaggerated lighting effects that are
uniqurely her own.
Also in this room is a Caillebotte )The
Balcony) that exploits a restricted
space and unusual perspective, and two
Mary Cassatts which show her at her
best-delivering sentiment without sen-
timentality while capturing the
momentary qualities of a scene.
THE EXTRAORDINARY talent of
Degas leaves its imprint on the
exhibition. A work entitled Les Blan-
cheuses is perhaps the most stunning
painting in the show. It takes an or-
dinary subject-washerwoman-and
treats it with a choreographed elegan-
ce. The dynamic use of a very shallow
space also adds to the picture's impact.
In the center of the north gallery
stands Degas' well known and much
loved sculpture, Little Dancer of Four-
teen Years. The statue is familiar not
only because it is so often reproduced in
photographs, but also because there are
twenty-three extant casts of it. This
particular cast was lent to the Univer-
sity's exhibition by the Shelbourne
museum in Vermont, but only after
provisions had been made for the
making of a new skirt. Originally
exhibited by Degas in wax (1879-80),
bronze casts of the dancer were made
only after his death in 1917.
Also included in the exhibition are
some lesser-knowns such as Forain,
Piette, and Zandomeneghi. One such
painter, Jean-Francois Raffaelli at-

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-P=CINEMAII111-
° ' TROLLSTENEN .'%4
(Gunvor Nelson, 1976)
Independent film artist Gunvor Nelson's first feature-length film is an un-
usual, highly stylized portrait of the members of her family as they recall
their childhood in their native Sweden. What makes TROLLSTENEN mag-
nificent is the masterful manner in which Nelson integrates a tremendous
body of information, balancing the matter-of-fact level on which such an
autobiographical film generally works with a romantic, richly imaginative
vision of her family and past. (125 min.)
NAT. SCi. AUD. 7:00 & 9:15 $1.50
Friday: The Films of Chick Strand
in port sponsored by MSA
With the support of the Michigan Council for the Arts. wo

IN
'r

JAM SESSION

This TUESDAY NIGHT
at Rick's
Sponsored by pzZ
-All Jazz artists and instrumentalists

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