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Landmark Exhibition of American Impressionist and Realist Paintings to Travel to Brisbane's Queensland Art Gallery

BRISBANE.- A landmark exhibition of American paintings on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will be on view at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia, from May 30 through September 20, 2009, it was announced today at a press conference held at the Queensland Art Gallery. American Impressionism and Realism: A Landmark Exhibition from the Met will feature 71 paintings by 34 well-known and less- familiar artists that have never before been displayed together and are not likely to be lent again as a group. Leading artists including Impressionists John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam, and William Merritt Chase, and Realists John Sloan and William Glackens will each be represented in the exhibition by several examples of their work.

“The Metropolitan has not only broad and deep holdings of works by the American Impressionists and Realists, but an experienced scholar – curator Barbara Weinberg – who specializes in them and has overseen this unprecedented loan exhibition,” commented Metropolitan Museum Director Philippe de Montebello. “Usually the paintings that will be on display in Brisbane have pride of place in the permanent galleries of our American Wing, which houses one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of American art in the world. The renovation of our American Wing, which is currently underway, has presented a unique opportunity for us to send out on loan an unusually large number of major American paintings.

This initial cooperative venture – the first between the Metropolitan, the Queensland Art Gallery, and Art Exhibitions Australia – enables us to make these works available to the Australian audience, and we are delighted to share them.” Since the Metropolitan Museum’s founding in 1870, it has been acquiring important examples of American art and its collection now includes more than 15,000 paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects.

The American Impressionists, who came of age during the 1890s, and the Realists – especially the group known as the Ashcan School – who challenged them after 1900, were allied in their commitment to portraying the everyday experiences of modern life. The exhibition explores these artists’ responses to the world around them, and their simultaneous embrace and elision of their era’s perplexing novelties. It presents in thematic groups their portrayals of burgeoning cities, which they tended to view through “rose-colored glasses”; the countryside abroad, where they found respite in an old-fashioned rural existence and in camaraderie afforded by art colonies; and the countryside back in the United States, particularly in New England, rural Pennsylvania, and other locales redolent of tradition. Also included in the exhibition are depictions of people pursuing leisure-time recreation at the beach, on picnics, or in other hospitable settings; artfully concocted studio setups and portraits; and vignettes of the lives of women and children. A final section of the exhibition includes several paintings by James McNeill Whistler, Winslow Homer, and Thomas Eakins, who also flourished about 1900 and influenced the American Impressionists and Realists.

The exhibition provides commentary on the modern realities faced by the American Impressionists and Realists and how the artists depicted them. It also explores their stylistic sources, which included Old Masters, contemporary academic artists, and the French Impressionists and their circle, together with their strategies for seeking patronage and their success with critics.

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