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Eugène Delacroix as focal point of major exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Eugène Delacroix, Fanatics of Tangier, 1837-8. Oil on canvas, 37 5/8 x 50 5/8 in. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN.- In fall 2015, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts will present “Eugène Delacroix and Modernity,” the first major exhibition to explore the legacy of the celebrated French painter, an influential trailblazer and one of the first modern masters of the form. The exhibition takes Cézanne’s observation that “we all paint in Delacroix’s language” as its starting point to reveal how Delacroix revolutionized French painting for the next generation of artists, leaving an indelible mark on Matisse, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Renoir, Degas, Monet, and others. The MIA is partnering with the National Gallery, London, for this unprecedented survey, featuring important works from the museums’ collections as well as rarely seen works from private collections. The exhibition opens at the MIA on October 18, 2015, and runs through January 10, 2016. It is on view at the National Gallery, London, February 10 through May 15, 2016.

By the time of his death, Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863) was one of the most revered artists in Paris and a hero of the avant-garde. By challenging the status quo by pushing the boundaries of the “Grand Style” of painting into the realm of modernism, he paved the way for younger artists. His large-scale paintings were the first to use the expressive, improvisational markmaking of the Impressionists, the dreamlike allusion of the Symbolists, and the bold colors of Morocco made famous 80 years later by Renoir and Matisse.

“Eugène Delacroix was the very engine of revolution that helped transform the art of French painting in the nineteenth century,” said Patrick Noon, the MIA’s Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator and Chair of Paintings and curator of the exhibition. “Kept at arm’s length by the Académie des Beaux-Arts, he was an artist who was truly ahead of his time, whose work and critical writings resonated deeply with his peers and helped shape the trajectory of art history. The exhibition will examine Delacroix as the bridge—in practice and in theory—between Anglo-French Romanticism and Impressionism.”

“Eugène Delacroix and Modernity” features 75 pivotal paintings by Delacroix and his admirers, grouped by theme. These admirers include Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, James McNeill Whistler, Odilon Redon, Paul Signac, and Wassily Kandinsky. The exhibition will also examine Delacroix’s aesthetics, as revealed in his journal, first published in 1893, which proved to be a major influence on Signac, Gauguin, and Matisse, among others.

Works from the MIA’s collection form the core of the exhibition, including:

• Delacroix’s Fanatics of Tangiers (1838), generally considered one of the principal masterworks by the artist in North America

• Signac’s first pointillist work, Snow, Boulevard de Clichy, Paris (1886)

• Van Gogh’s Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun (1889)

The MIA has three works by Delacroix that were given by James J. Hill, the foremost collector of Delacroix in America in the 19th century and one of the MIA’s founders—hence the significance of holding this exhibition in 2015, the museum’s 100th year. Major loans will come from about 40 world-class museums, including the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; the Uffizi Gallery, Florence; the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre, and the Petit Palais, in Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Art, Houston; The National Gallery, Washington, D.C.; St. Louis Art Museum; the Dallas Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Art, Boston; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Highlights include:

• Delacroix’s Fanatics of Tangier (1837–38), Minneapolis Institute of Arts

• Cézanne’s Battle of Love (1880), National Gallery of Art

• Gauguin’s Christ in the Garden of Olives (1889), Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida

• Manet’s Music in the Tuileries Gardens (1862), National Gallery, London

“This exhibition is a remarkable opportunity to show- case the best of our collection with seminal paintings from around the globe,” said Kaywin Feldman, MIA director and president. “As the Minneapolis Institute of Arts celebrates its 100th anniversary, we are pleased to add a new chapter to our visitors’ understanding of the role of this pivotal artist in the genesis of modern art.”

“Eugène Delacroix and Modernity” is organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the National Gallery, London. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition and will include essays by Patrick Noon, curator of the exhibition and MIA’s Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator and Chair of Paintings, and Christo- pher Riopelle, curator of Post-1800 Paintings at the National Gallery, London.

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