The Portland Art Museum presents 'Monet to Matisse: French Moderns'

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The Portland Art Museum presents 'Monet to Matisse: French Moderns'
Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926). Rising Tide at Pourville, 1882. Oil on canvas, 26 x 32 in. (66 x 81.3cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Horace O. Havemeyer, 41.1260. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum).

PORTLAND, OR.- On view at the Portland Art Museum this summer from the Brooklyn Museum’s renowned European art collection, Monet to Matisse: French Moderns showcases approximately 60 works of art considered to be modernist masterpieces. Focusing on France as the artistic center of international modernism from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, the exhibition features paintings and sculpture ranging widely in scale, subject matter, and style. Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism are all explored in the work of Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and many others. Monet to Matisse: French Moderns is organized by Lisa Small, Senior Curator of European Art, and Richard Aste, former Curator of European Art, Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition opened June 8 and will be on view at the Portland Art Museum through September 15, 2024.

The Portland Art Museum’s presentation of Monet to Matisse: French Moderns is curated by Lloyd DeWitt, who started in February as the Museum’s new Richard and Janet Geary Curator of European & American Art Pre-1930. “I’m delighted that we are able to bring the highlights of Brooklyn’s exceptional collection to Portland and share these masterpieces, which resonate strongly with Portland’s own excellent selection of French Moderns,” DeWitt said.

The exhibition is organized by subject matter, with the first of the four sections, Landscape, featuring Monet’s Houses of Parliament, Renoir’s Vineyards at Cagnes, Gustave Caillebotte's Apple Tree in Bloom, and other paintings spanning a century of innovation. The Impressionist revolution is also represented by the works of Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro as well as Berthe Morisot, whose Portrait of Mme. Boursier and Her Daughter anchors the second section, Portraits and Models, focussing on the human figure. Grand portraits by Giovanni Boldini and Kees van Dongen highlight this section, which also includes a cast of Rodin’s renowned Balzac in a Monk’s Habit. Still Lifes by Chaim Soutine, Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, and others form the third section, leading to the final group focussed on the Nude. Rodin’s first masterpiece, Age of Bronze, is joined by works by Degas and Fernand Léger that span nearly the entire century represented by the scope of the exhibition, from the 1848 revolutions to the end of the second World War, from Jean-François Millet’s realism to Alexander Archipenko’s abstraction.

Many of the works in the exhibition bring to light the stories of the dealers, patrons, and New York collectors who helped make the Brooklyn Museum’s collection one of the nation’s finest. “By attuning themselves to the avant-garde French art world, Brooklyn collectors signaled that their borough was modern and forward-looking compared to Manhattan,” DeWitt said. “Brooklyn’s collection was later enriched with gifts by successful Brooklynites like Mrs. Barnes and Mrs. Kantor, who had been educated in art by that same modern collection.”

While the Portland Art Museum’s permanent collections are largely off view during its campus transformation now underway, visitors can see a number of PAM’s own French modern treasures in the collaboratively curated exhibition Throughlines: Connections in the Collection (reopening June 13), including paintings by artists in French Moderns including Monet, Renoir, and Édouard Vuillard.

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