French Prints from Impressionism to Art Nouveau13.06.2015-03.01.2016
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The exhibition presents over 300 works by outstanding artists active in France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in circles associated with Impressionism, Symbolism, post-Impressionism and Art Nouveau. Their prints belong to the largest Polish collection of modern French printmaking, numbering around 1110 works, amassed for nearly a quarter of a century by its great enthusiast - Feliks Jasieński.
The authors include: Pierre Bonnard, Félix Bracquemond, Jules Chéret, Maurice Denis, Paul Gauguin, Auguste Lepère, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Odilon Redon, Auguste Renoir, Henri Rivière, Paul Sérusier, Paul Signac, Alfred Sisley, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Félix Vallotton, Édouard Vuillard and others. The display revolves around a few major themes.
The atmosphere of Paris is introduced by numerous depictions of this city accompanied by satirical and genre scenes as well as images of its celebrities, upper class characters and ordinary residents. Through their diverse styles, the exhibited objects reflect the plurality of trends in French art of that time.
Further on, we present artists of great merit for the renewal of etching – prints by the founders and members of the Société des aquafortistes established in 1862, both French and foreign artists, cooperating with the association. Most of these works, preceding Impressionism, are distinguished by their artistic qualities and fresh approach to etching – applied in an impressionist and sketchy way and highlighting the play of lights and shadows.
In another part of the exhibition, we display works created by those members of the Impressionist movement who participated in the famous eight exhibitions held in the years 1874-1886, as well as their later works which provide insights into their individual artistic paths. The display also features some of the famous etchings by Manet, who did not participate in exhibitions of the Impressionists, but who in that period created several prints closely associated with Impressionism.
The following room presents the intense development of original printmaking, which resulted from the activity of numerous associations of printmakers and painters-printmakers established in the late 19th century. Their works depict the evolution of printmaking in the sphere of methods, technology and themes. The dominating factor here is colour, which heavily influenced the commercial success of printmaking towards the end of the century, both in its artistic and advertising version. What deserves particular attention is the collection of works by Neo-Impressionists, who used a characteristic technique – pointillism.
The phenomenon of art inspired by Japanese woodcuts is reflected in works in distinct Japanese style, featuring new layout ideas, departure from illusionism, original framing and close-ups, new approach to colour, and in relation to iconography – exploring ordinary themes and borrowings of motifs such as a wave, Mount Fuji, flora and fauna or expressive portraits.
The section of the exhibition dedicated to various trends in Symbolism, dominated by black-and-white prints, is represented by images and landscapes evoking a suggestive mood, Odilon Redon's works featuring his own unique language, which employs the figments of his extraordinary imagination, works presenting demonic or idealised women as well as depictions of fantastical and symbolist-existential nature.
A small room is dedicated to Brittany – a popular holiday and work destination for artists of various nationalities. An important place here belongs to artists associated with Pont-Aven, whose artwork is complemented by prints authored by other peintres-graveurs who created depictions of the residents of Brittany and the surrounding area.
A separate section of the display presents works created by a group related to Symbolism, called the Nabis, “prophets of new art”, who significantly influenced artistic development at the turn of the century. Freed from mimetic functions, their decorative prints influenced by Japanese culture, saturated with spiritual elements and intimate emotions still remain some of the most attractive works of that time.
The main protagonist of the following room is Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, an incredibly innovative artist, author of expressive, artistic works, permeated with humanistic values and documenting the life of Parisian celebrities and venues. His works are accompanied by prints by other artists who depicted Parisian entertainment.
The exhibition closes with examples of Art Nouveau, which drew inspiration from various sources. Their common denominator was the simplification of forms and the use of flat areas of colour paired with flexible contours and Japanese inspirations. In the sphere of iconography, it was reflected in creating a new canon of femininity, and in the social aspect – in the democratization, which became evident, for example, in the dissemination of large editions of inexpensive decorative prints.
Kurator: Krystyna Kulig-Janarek Coordinator: Grażyna Kulawik Arrangement: Anna Bojarowicz