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The Lens of Impressionism, 1850-1874

Press release:
The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874
Dallas Museum of Art
February 21–May 23, 2010
Beginning February 21, 2010, the Dallas Museum of Art will present a landmark exhibition exploring the influential and profound relationship between photographers and painters who lived and worked along the Normandy coast in France during the mid-19th century. The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874 reveals how the convergence of social, technological and commercial forces within the region affected artistic production and dramatically transformed the course of photography, impressionism and modern painting. The exhibition will feature some 100 works, including vintage prints, paintings, pastels and watercolors, by artists and photographers including Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Gustave Le Gray, and Claude Monet.
On view through May 23, 2010, The Lens of Impressionism will be complemented by the presentation of Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea, a special exhibition drawn from the Museum’s collections opening in April that will explore how coastal landscapes have been portrayed by artists throughout the past century. The Lens of Impressionism has been organized by the University of Michigan Museum of Art. The Dallas presentation, which marks the final stop of this major exhibition, will feature important loans and a new section exploring early photographic techniques and technology.
The Lens of Impressionism provides a wonderful opportunity to connect visitors with masterpieces by some of the greatest impressionist artists, including Monet and Degas, and also to offer insight and exposure to their colleagues, the pioneers of the art of photography,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “The presentation at the DMA is enhanced by our forthcoming exhibition Coastlines, which will further explore the theme, as well as in our own collection of impressionist works from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, which this year celebrates its 25th year as part of the DMA.”
The exhibition will showcase paintings, photographs and drawings by some of the most treasured artists in the Western canon—Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet and Edgar Degas among them—as well as by pioneering photographers, such as Gustave Le Gray and Henri Le Secq. Inspired by the scenic Normandy coast of France, these works include representations of beach scenes, seascapes, fishing villages, resorts and the region’s pastoral beauty. Archival materials related to early tourism will also be included in the exhibition to provide an innovative examination of the impact of the then-new medium of photography on ideas of image making, the recording of passing time, the capacities of painting and the rise of impressionism itself.
The Lens of Impressionism presents new insight into and scholarship on the response of impressionist painters to early photography within the context of a single geographic locale,” said Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art and the coordinating curator for the exhibition. “The work that was developed in the second half of the 19th century in the Normandy coast—a region that was intensely explored and celebrated by artists during this time—tells a revealing story about the cross-pollination of ideas between the emerging impressionist art movement and the new field of photography.”
Exclusive to the Dallas presentation is a special section that illustrates the technology and techniques of early photography through works from the Dallas Museum of Art’s collections as well as loans from the Amon Carter Museum.
After viewing The Lens of Impressionism, visitors are encouraged to explore the Museum’s Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, which is acclaimed for its impressionist and post-impressionist works by such artists as Bonnard, Cézanne, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and van Gogh. Encompassing more than 1,400 works, including paintings, sculptures, works on paper and decorative arts objects, the collection is displayed at the DMA in a re-creation of the couple’s Riviera home, Villa La Pausa. This spectacular bequest, which was presented to the Museum 25 years ago, transformed the DMA’s collection of late 19th-century French art and founded the institution’s collection in European decorative arts.
Special audio tours for The Lens of Impression exhibition and the Reves Collection will highlight works in the exhibition along with select masterpieces from the Reves Collection. Additional background information and material on the exhibition and from the Reves Collection can also be accessed by visitors on Wi-Fi enabled smartphones and media players.
Catalogue
The Lens of Impressionism will be accompanied by a fully illustrated 208-page catalogue with essays by internationally recognized scholars: Sylvie Aubenas, Head, Department of Prints and Photographs at the Bibliothèque nationale de France; Dominique de Font-Réaulx, Curator, Musée du Louvre; Stephen Bann, Bristol University; Dean MacCannell, University of California at Davis; and the exhibition curator, UMMA’s Senior Curator of Western Art, Carole McNamara.
Exhibition Organization and Credits
The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874 is organized by the University of Michigan Museum of Art. The Dallas presentation marks the second and final stop on the exhibition tour, and is curated by Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.
The exhibition is made possible in part by the Florence Gould Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the University of Michigan’s Office of the Provost, and other generous donors. It includes loans from private and public collections in both the United States and Europe, featuring exceptional loans from the Musée d’Orsay and a generous loan of outstanding photographs from the rich collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
The presentation in Dallas is made possible by Bank of America. Additional support is provided by Texas Instruments, Energy Future Holdings, and the DMA’s Junior Associates Circle with funds raised through An Affair of the Art 2010: Great Impression. Air transportation is provided by American Airlines. Promotional support provided by Kroger.
About the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs are its encyclopedic collections, which encompass more than 24,000 works and span 7,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum today welcomes more than 600,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings and dramatic and dance presentations.
The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.



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