Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity

Frank Cierpial
Post by Frank Cierpial

Paris has always been a city loved by artists. How can it not be? Paris is beautiful twenty four hours a day in every light. In Paris, art is everywhere. From every building to every café crème, beauty is a big part of life in Paris. New York is the opposite. In New York, art is basically confined to Art Galleries in Chelsea and museums. Please do not miss-understand, New York has its own art and beauty, but it is not as visible and tangible as the art in Paris.

On my second day of spring break, I was brought to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. My friend Jaclyn and I walked through the hallways filled to the brim with European, Roman, and Greek art and felt the soft cultural touch of the old world. Then we got to the special exhibit. The exhibit that this article is centered around, the exhibit that was comparable to me getting on a plane, putting my tray in a an upright position, leaning back, and taking off back to the place that showed me the beauty of art for the first time 5 years ago. I saw Paris for the first time through a very unique lens. I saw Paris through the lens of someone who didn’t know what to expect. I was 17, and I acted like Keanu Reeves in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, needless to say art was not in my repertoire. But, before I go into the exhibit and what I saw, I would like to give some background on Impressionism and what impressionism is.
In its time, Impressionism was a very controversial subject. Some writers thought it was incomplete and did not understand its sketch-like and creative appearance. But, other writers saw it as a depiction of modern life. That is exactly what Claude Monet and his contemporaries were trying to accomplish. Impressionism is considered to be a new way of looking at life, to quote my friend Jaclyn “not exactly what is there, but the way the artist sees it”. Impressionism is a long and complicated subject that I can write you pages and pages on. But, I’ll save that for my book. Right now, I’ll just cut to the chase about what I saw. Continue reading

Il n’y a pas besoin de vous faire un dessin – You get the picture

On the edge of the Jardins du Ranelagh in the 16th arrondissement in Paris is nestled a wonderful ‘hôtel particulier’ that was owned by the Marmottan family. Jules the father and Paul the son collected art, Jules especially was keen to Napoleonic pieces. At his death he willed the pavillion and the collection along with an extensive library to the Académie des Beaux-Arts. It has become over the years, known for it’s Impressionism era interests. It houses a large collection of Monets, and is probably a more comfortable place to come admire them than the over-run-by-tourists-wait-in-line-forever Musée d’Orsay.

They moved the usual spot of the Monet canvases for the temporary exhibition at the Musée Marmottan Monet. I was able to take a few clandestine photos to give you a sneak peek (especially those of you who are “locationally” challenged). It’s a must in the cold Parisian winter weather (certainly with this years unusually unusual cold spell)… The paintings are full of warm, vibrant colors that warm you up from the outside chill; full of expression to melt your icy face. There’s a steady simplicity in the brush stroke, and the thick paint recalling their impressionistic for-fathers, have a way of making manifest the painting with more than just an image, they attest to the matter, the material of which that image is made. When you look up close you can see it. You can see the exacte touch of the painter’s hand, you can see his intention, you can see the strange colors that make up a skin tone, a water tone, a shadow. And when you step back a few paces, you see the harmony that it all creates. But, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I will cease my “baratin” (jabber).

(click images to enlarge)

1910, Jeune fille en jupe rouge, by Adolf Erbslöh

From left to right :

1906, Nu de jeune fille, by Kees Von Dongen
1907, Portrait de jeune fille, by Auguste Herbin

28 October 2009 – 20 February 2010
Fauves et Expressionnistes

De Van Dongen à Otto Dix