Don’t go see Impressionism Masterworks on Paper for the water lilies. Because there aren’t any. Save those for the guest bedroom at Grandma’s house. See it for the draftsmanship of great artists like Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec and Pisarro.
I think I expected something very French Vanilla in this Milwaukee Art Museum exhibition, expertly curated by Christopher Lloyd and Laurie Winters, but what I got was a very Neapolitan-By-Way-Of -Paris collection of masterful avante-garde drawings.
There’s something so immediate and vital about a sketch dashed off in minutes or a sweep of white pastel on cardboard that captures the light “just so” that speaks to me more than a meticulously-labored oil painting. These artists are able to convey the intense light and dark of the inner and outer worlds of their subjects with a minimum amount of marks on paper—yet their styles and subjects diverge widely.
So with the time you have with out-of-town relatives or guests these holidays, please take a couple of hours to wander through the charcoal and chalk smudges, and pen and ink swashes, that make this Impressionism exhibit at MAM – not entirely French – but trés magnifique nonetheless.
Note: My favorites were by Jean-Louis Forain from the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis Tennessee. Jean-Louis Forain. French (1852-1931) In Front of the Set, c. 1895-1900 Pastel on paper, 20 x 24 ¼” (25 ¼ x 29 5/8 x 2″) Collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.
Owner, Tessera Design