Renoir to Chagall: Paris and the Allure of Color showcases 49 masterpieces from the renowned collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee. The exhibition explores how Paris emerged as the center of the art world in the nineteenth century, attracting and inspiring the greatest painters of the era, including the well-known leaders of French Impressionism. Opened June 8 at Joslyn Art Museum
, the exhibition continues through September 1. Admission to Joslyn Art Museum, and the Renoir to Chagall exhibition, is free.
Under Emperor Napoleon III, Paris was transformed between 1853 and 1870, as crowded neighborhoods and narrow streets were demolished to make way for grand boulevards, public gardens, and striking new buildings. Energized by a growing population and rising prosperity, the renewed city also attracted the most important artists of the time, who came to define the modern era. In 1874, a group of young painters, including Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, and Berthe Morisot, organized an exhibition independent of the official salon. Together, they became known by the critics as Impressionists, so named for work that appeared to capture not only its subject, but the artists sensation of it as well. Often painting en plein air, or out of doors, their style is characterized by quick, staccato brushwork and unblended paint mixed directly on the canvas itself, creating shape and volume through the contrast of colors. Their subjects ranged widely, from the seacoast and rural landscapes to grand vistas of the city to people engaged in contemporary pursuits, whether socializing in a café, attending the ballet, or leisurely strolling the Parisian streets.
The Impressionists, in turn, inspired further generations of avant-garde artists, including Neo-Impressionists like George Seurat; Henri Matisse and the Fauves bold use of color; George Braques experiments with Cubist structure; and Marc Chagalls lyrical allegories. Through the eyes of these artists, viewers not only see the enchantment of the City of Light and the French countryside, but also the inspiration and foundation of the most important artistic movements of the twentieth century.
The remarkable collection of French paintings at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens began as the vision of the museums founders, Hugo and Margaret Dixon, who were advised by one of the leading scholars of Impressionism, John Rewald. The combination of passionate collectors and a critics keen eye laid the foundation for a major collection that has only continued to grow since the museums opening four decades ago. Renoir to Chagall: Paris and the Allure of Color shares the finest of the Dixon Gallerys collection.