Closing out the year-long anniversary celebration of the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion, Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper premiered at the Milwaukee Art Museum
on Friday, October 14. Organized by the Museum in partnership with the Albertina in Vienna, the exhibition presents more than one hundred drawings, watercolors, and pastels by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.
Some of the greatest artists in the history of Western European art, including Manet, Degas, Renoir, Pissarro, Seurat, Gauguin, Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec, created works on paper that may be less well-known than their paintings, but which are just as significant. Active in France during the second half of the nineteenth century, these artists wanted, contrary to the entrenched teachings of the Academy of Fine Arts, an art that reflected the experiences of modern times.
This is a scholarly exhibition devoted almost exclusively to works on paper and will considerably extend our current knowledge of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, said Laurie Winters, director of exhibitions at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Masterworks on Paper will show that the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists chose to emphasize drawing, thereby ceasing to recognize the traditional distinction between drawing and painting. They elevated the status of drawing to the level of painting itself.
It is not widely known that a large proportion of the artwork shown in the eight Impressionist exhibitions held in Paris between 1874 and 1886 were works on paper. Many of these have been identified and will be shown in Masterworks on Paper.
Overall, the exhibition provides an overview of the artists drawing skills at this critical stage in the development of French artand, in turn, modern art. The various styles and techniques the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists used will be represented, shedding light on how these artists made inroads for the Abstract Expressionists, among others, said Winters.
The exhibition also includes a limited number of paintings, including Renoirs Bathers with Crab, which is on loan to the Museum from the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. The painting was part of a Super Bowl XLV wager between the museums. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25.
Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper is organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum in partnership with the Albertina in Vienna. The exhibition was co-curated in Milwaukee by Christopher Lloyd, guest curator, and Laurie Winters, director of exhibitions at the Museum. It runs Friday, October 14, 2011, through Sunday, January 8, 2012.