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See the Beauty and Charm of The American Impressionists in the Garden at the Taft Museum of Art
Robert Vonnoh, Poppies in France, 1888, oil on canvas, Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, Daniel J. Terra Foundation.
CINCINNATI, OH.- Spring begins a bit early in 2011, when The American Impressionists in the Garden opened at the Taft Museum of Art. Bringing together brilliantly colored paintings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the exhibition features 40 pictures of European and American gardens created by American Impressionists and four bronze sculptures for gardens by American sculptors.

“From Giverny to Boston and Charleston, American painters captured the sensuous pleasures to be found in gardens, ornamenting their canvases with lush blossoms in fuchsia, persimmon, and daffodil yellow,” says Lynne Ambrosini, the Taft’s chief curator.

The interactions between the two artistic fields of gardening and painting make up the subject of this exhibition. The Cincinnati audience will be familiar the artists in the exhibition, including celebrated American artists John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Gari Melchers, Ernest Lawson, and Frederick Frieseke.

“I had never realized before how much the concepts of garden design influenced concepts of painting—and vice versa—in America around 1900,” say Deborah Scott, Taft director and CEO. “Gardening fed painting, which fed gardening, and so on, in one big fascinating repeat loop.”

American impressionist painters turned their attention to the garden, finding it an ideal subject for the study of light and color in landscape, and they were not alone. This exhibition explores the importance of gardens in American art and society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Appreciated for their variations of form, color, style, and silhouette, gardens constituted a key cultural interest of the period. The vogue for gardening expressed itself in the birth of garden clubs, horticultural and hobbyist publications, the establishment of civic and private gardens, new modes of garden design. The relationships between the gardening movement and the fine arts of painting and sculpture is the focus of this exhibition, which is organized by the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art in Nashville, Tennessee.

Though the Tafts did not collect work from the Impressionists – it was not their taste – their love of landscapes, and their love for their own garden, make this show a great fit for us. I’m looking forward to having the sculpture pieces in the garden here, which will give a whole other dimension to how people experience the Taft’s space.

The Taft will also be showing American Impressionism in Cincinnati Collections, opening January 28, 2011, thanks to the generosity of private lenders. This exhibition includes examples of “American Impressionism,” a term that refers to subjects of contemporary life and landscape rendered in a freely-brushed style. By the 1880s and '90s, Impressionism had spread from its beginnings in Paris to become an international style. Many American Impressionists studied in Cincinnati with Frank Duveneck or in New York with William Merritt Chase; both of these influential American teachers had extensive experience working in Europe and transmitted the principles of open-air painting, loose brushwork, and brighter color to their students.



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