HOUSEGallery April First Friday opening reception :
Autumn Wallace : How could I say no to you?
Autumn Wallace uses her artwork as a means to address social change. Illustrating individuals as large, curvy beings with slightly distorted features, she aims to encourage viewers to see beauty within the ‘imperfect’. Most recently, Ms. Wallace received a Creative Arts, Research and Scholarship Grant to study at the National Museum of African Art and National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Titled “The Origins of Respect[ability],” her research paper focused on themes of queerness and femininity, specifically within the Black community.
We invite you join us for Autumns reception on April 5th.
Would a No by any other name smell as sweet?
Shut-out, Shut-In, or Shut-Up? That big, hard wall sprung by dismissal creates so many wonderful possibilities! Where, oh where will that sharp left turn bring you? Before you Google what tools you need to split a second for that decision, be aware that in April at HOUSEGallery, Autumn will use experimental thought exercises assisted by paint and clay to lead a guided exploration of the prospects at How Could I Say ‘No’ to You?Come discover your ways here.
About Autumn Wallace
To Autumn Wallace, Faux-Pas is a destination island where anything is possible. On this island [floated in a small undisclosed Philadelphia enclave], Autumn blends daily life with their borderline obsessions. Prominent features of the island’s attractions include 90’s cartoons, Baroque aesthetics, and ‘Adult Materials’ arranged in painting and sculptures, stirring up narratives of chaotic [con]fusion. Why? Eluding reason boosts emotional response, makes viewers voyeurs, or participants–no bystanders. Here, absurdity is the moderator and we’re all in for the ride. www.autumnwallaceart.wordpress.com/www.instagram.com/veggiemon/
HOURS by appointment
Location HOUSEGallery1816 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125
Thank you to Michelle Marcuse for the content of this post.
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DRAG IN PHILADELPHIA: THE BOLD, THE BEAUTIFUL & THE BRUNCH
Philly Drag History, Current Shows & Queens To Follow
PHILADELPHIA, March 26, 2019 –Philadelphia’s drag scene dates back centuries—and thrives to this day. Contemporary Philly drag queens most often perform in the bars and clubs of the Gayborhood, part of Center City’s Washington Square West neighborhood. But a growing number of venues beyond the neighborhood host drag brunches, game nights, variety shows and kids’ story times.
Philadelphia men have been costuming in ruffles and feathers since the 1600s, when Swedish immigrants began a raucous New Year’s tradition that, in 1901, officially became the Mummers Parade. Modern Mummers’ costumes are bold, bright, sequined—and blue collar. Women were permitted to join their ranks in the 1980s. In 2012, the Philly Drag Mafia became the first official queens to strut in the parade.
The city’s drag nightlife dates to at least to the 1950s, when the The New Forrest Lounge—now The Bike Stop, in the Gayborhood—required reservations for drag shows such as The Fabulous Fakes. Other drag hotspots Miss P’s at 18th and Lombard streets and ’90s dance club Shampoo helped broaden the audience for local drag culture, while dive bar Bob & Barbara’s emerged as a once-a-week base for performers.
Today, drag personalities replete with tongue-in-cheek names and spectacular style make their marks at nearly every queer bar in the Gayborhood, including Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar andVoyeur Nightclub, known for hosting frequent performances by both top-tier local talent up to nationally known queens from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”So-called straight scenes that have gotten into the act include Northern Liberties’ Bourbon and Branch and Fishtown comedy club Punch Line Philly, hosts of brunch-time drag shows. There’s also a growing trend of drag queen story times, where queens read books aloud to rooms full of little ones.
Bob & Barbara’s – The South Street dive is as loved for its shot-and-a-beer special as it is for Miss Lisa Lisa, the teasing, raucous host of the bar’s Thursday night drag show. With a diverse rotating cast of new and seasoned queens, the event has the distinction of being the longest-running drag show in Philadelphia. 1509 South Street, (215) 545-4511,bobandbarbaras.com
Boxers PHL– Iris Spectre and VinChelle perform in a Gayborhood sports bar on Turn Out Tuesdays. Their variety show features local talent, tunes from DJ Drootrax and cocktails made with Philly-based Stateside vodka. Iris also hosts a live “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing party here. 1330 Walnut Street, (215) 735-2977, boxersphl.com
Franky Bradley’s – The Gayborhood’s self-described “house of weird,” presents Farrah Thorne’s Get Hype showcase on the third Wednesday of every other month and hosts drag-boosted burlesque performance Honeygasm on the first Sunday of every month. The shows take place upstairs in an area complete with a corner stage and modern sound system, all bolstered by a funky ’70s-hippie vibe. 1320 Chancellor Street, (215) 735-0735, frankybradleys.com
FringeArts – This performing arts venue attached to brasserie La Peg presents queer cabaret GetPegged about once per month fall through winter. The Bearded Ladies Cabaret founder John Jarboe hosts the series, which features diverse queer musical and burlesque artists from Philly and beyond. The venue also hosts a variety of drag shows as part of the fall Fringe Festival. 140 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-9006, fringearts.com
GayBINGO! at Congregation Rodeph Shalom – For 20 years, GayBINGO!,a fundraiser for Aids Fund Philly, has been one of Philadelphia’s most in-demand Friday night events. Every month in the fall and winter, drag hosts dress according to a theme, interact with audiences, perform numbers and call winners. 615 N. Broad Street, (215) 731-9255, aidsfundphilly.org
Knock Restaurant and Bar – Iris Spectre hosts All-Star Karaoke every Wednesday at Knock, a Gayborhood restaurant and bar known for its gentlemanly clientele and expertly made cocktails. 255 S. 12th Street, (215) 925-1166, knockphilly.com
L’Etage – The dimly lit, Paris-inspired performance space above Bella Vista creperie Beau Monde hosts one of Philly’s most popular monthly drag shows, the Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret. The line stretches around the block for the performance, which features covers of beloved pop songs by the self-proclaimed world’s tallest, hairiest drag queen. The space also hosts a regular lineup of drag shows, including an amateur drag night on the first Sunday of every month from Philadelphia producer John Burd. 624 S. 6th Street, (215) 592-0656, creperie-beaumonde.com
The Raven Resort – New Hope, Bucks County has long been an LGBTQ destination, and every visit must include a stop at this sprawling piano bar, restaurant, motel and pool, whose legacy stems back to the 1970s. The Raven has played host to notables such as local legend Tinsel Garland and drag big-timers Paige Turner and Sherry Vine. The current roster includesLipstick Mondays, when Cyannie Lopez hosts trans and queen performers on the first and third Monday of every month. 385 W. Bridge Street, New Hope, (215) 862-2081,theravennewhope.com
Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar – Home to a wide-range of queer performance art, Tabu is perhaps best known for its drag variety shows, constantly being reshaped to fit with the goings-on in pop culture and cravings of local audiences. The nightclub holds competitions, cabarets, drag queen-hosted karaoke and, on the first Saturday of the month, “Christian” comedy queen Bev’s popular drag show, Bev’s Bitchfest. 254 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675, tabuphilly.com
Tavern on Camac – Staying true to its reputation, the atmospheric piano bar tucked away on Camac Street hosts two regular live singing-focused drag events. Every Thursday, it’s GayBill, a night of showtune sing-alongs with host Cleo Phatra and her closest friends. On the third Saturday of every month, ukulele-strumming bearded lady Eric Jaffe hosts The Eric Jaffe Show, spotlighting some of the area’s fiercest musical talents. 243 S. Camac Street, (215) 545-0900, tavernoncamac.com
Toasted Walnut Bar & Kitchen – Cleo Phatra hosts Totally Toasted Trivia, a game night every Tuesday at this friendly, lesbian-owned bar. During “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” comedy queen Bev hosts viewing parties followed by karaoke. 1316 Walnut Street, (215) 546-8888, toastedwalnut.com
The Victoria Freehouse – A British pub named after one of history’s most outspoken queens hosts one-Saturday-a-month drag shows with themes that have been inspired by Harry Potter, “Game of Thrones” and Bettlejuice. Two or three times a year, hilarious Aunt Mary Pat, perhaps the most Philly queen of them all, performs sold-out standup. 10 S. Front Street, (215) 543-6089, victoriafreehouse.com
Voyeur Nightclub – The Gayborhood’s fiercest drag fans head to this after-hours club once a month to catch Philly Drag Wars hosted by local “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Mimi Imfurst. Described as “RuPaul’s Drag Race” meets “The Voice,” the competition follows a similar format to both shows, including a the lip-sync-for-your-life contest and a rotating cast of high-profile local judges. 1221 St. James Street, (215) 735-5772, voyeurnightclub.com
Woody’s – Drag diva VinChelle hosts a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing party every Thursday during the show’s regular season. The night features drink specials and boisterous banter directed at the screen. VinChelle also hosts karaoke on Woody’s second level on Wednesday nights. 202 S. 13th Street, (215) 545-1893, woodysbar.com
Bourbon and Branch – On the fourth Sunday of each month, this Southern restaurant in Northern Liberties hosts a troupe of local drag queens in Babes of Bourbon and Branch, making the restaurant and music venue one of few surefire spots to enjoy live drag with a side of grits. 705 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-0660, bourbonandbranchphilly.com
L’Etage – French toast, crepes and mimosas are part of the Ladies of L’Etage Drag Brunch, when queens come together for an afternoon of song, wowing death drops and, on occasion, a naughty puppet show. 624 S. 6th Street, (215) 592-0656, creperie-beaumonde.com
Mifflin Tavern – Drag brunch arrives South Philly-style every fourth Saturday of the month, when comedy queen Brittany Lynn sings and jokes as diners chow down on pub grub and throw back beers. Lynn also hosts a game night at the Pennsport pub every Wednesday. 1843 S. 2nd Street, (267) 273-0811, mifflintavern.net
Punch Line Philly – Each Saturday, this comedy club and restaurant charges a flat fee for brunch and an all-ages drag show—with a dash of raunchiness—hosted by two-time “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contender Mimi Imfurst. The weekly performance also features longtime Philly queens such as Cleo Phatra, Brooklyn Ford and Sutton Fearce. 33 E. Laurel Street, (215) 606-6555, dragdivabrunch.com
SouthHouse – Tater tots may be the star attraction at this unassuming neighborhood bar in South Philly’s Lower Moyamensing neighborhood, but drag queens Brittany Lynn, Navaya Shay and Crystal Electra try to outshine them during a drag brunch every first Sunday of the month. 2535 S. 13th Street, (267) 457-3682, southhousephilly.com
Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar – A rotating cast of queens that includes Onyx Black, Sasha Magnolia and Patty Spaghetti hit Tabu’s sports bar two Sundays a month for the Ladies of Tabu Drag Brunch. 254 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675, tabuphilly.com
The Victoria Freehouse – Old City’s atmospheric British pub gets wild on select Saturdays, when comedy queens host drag brunches with themes from Alice in Wonderland or Disney, and diners dress the part. 10 S. Front Street, (215) 543-6089, victoriafreehouse.com
Drag Queen Storytime:
Free Library of Philadelphia – Branches of Philadelphia’s public library get in on the drag queen story hour trend, where queens read aloud to a roomful of wide-eyed tots. Brittany Lynn is the Free Library’s most frequent storyteller. She has read at Lovett Memorial in Mount Airy and the Fumo Family Library in South Philly. Various locations, (215) 686-5322, freelibrary.org
Please Touch Museum – One day during Pride month, Philadelphia’s hands-on kids’ museum invites drag queens to read tales of diversity and acceptance to audiences of hundreds as part of its family Pride Celebration. The daylong event also features a dress-up corner, runway show, interactive puppet skits and singalongs. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181,pleasetouchmuseum.org
Drag Queens To Follow:
Ariel Versace – With a massive Instagram following and a closet to match, this self-described “life-sized Bratz doll” became the second local queen to nab a spot on the 2019 season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Versace’s newfound stardom means she’ll now be performing around the world, but followers can still catch her around Philly. @arielversace
Aunt Mary Pat – She eschews expensive costumes and rocks a 5 o’clock shadow, but what Aunt Mary Pat lacks in glam she makes up for in hilarity. The beer-guzzling comedy queen is the epitome of Philly, entertaining audiences at her standup sets with anecdotes about her love for Wawa and “the Iggles.” facebook.com/auntmarypat
Aurora Whorealis – An Alaska transplant and Gayborhood staple, Aurora is primarily a comedy queen who performs at a slew of clubs and hosts “Trivi-YASSS” on Monday nights at Tabu. She was crowned “Best Lip-Sync Artist” at the 2017 Philly Drag Awards, an annual competition at Voyeur Nightclub. instagram.com/aurorawh0realis
Bev – Philadelphia’s self-described “premier Christian drag queen” is, intentionally ironically, known for her “Bitchfest” drag showcase at Tabu, when she presents other queens while tossing out quip after quip. Bev’s awards include “Best Comedy Performer” at the 2018 Drag Awards, “Miss Gulf Coast Comedy Queen,” 2017 and “Miss Northeast Comedy Queen,” 2016.facebook.com/theoneandonlyBev
Brittany Lynn – Created at former gay club 12th Air Command in 1996, Brittany Lynn is a cornerstone of the city’s drag scene, constantly reinventing herself with new events: a talk show, standup acts, live singing, weekly showcases and story time at the Free Library, for example. In 2013, she ushered in a new era of drag-queen involvement in the Mummers Parade by establishing the Miss Fancy Brigade, an achievement Philadelphia City Council recognized by honoring her with her own, official holiday: March 15 is Brittany Lynn Day. phillydragmafia.com
Iris Spectre – Every queen has her niche, and for this 2016 Philly Drag Awards “Drag Queen of the Year,” it’s costumes, costumes, costumes. The Parsons School of Fashion-trained designer’s costumes have been weird, fantastical and downright chic. She’s created pieces for big-name queens such as “RuPaul’s Drag Race” favorite Peppermint. facebook.com/Iris-Spectre
Martha Graham Cracker – Pig Iron Theatre Company co-founder by day, Dito van Reigersberg may be better known by his nighttime persona, Martha Graham Cracker, a hairy drag queen who skips the lip-syncing in favor of glass-shattering live vocals. Martha has been a regular on the drag performance circuit since 2005 and recently performed a one-woman show at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. facebook.com/MarthaGrahamCracker
Mimi Imfurst – Notorious for competing on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars,” Philadelphia-based drag performer and event producer Mimi Imfurst hosts an all-ages Drag Diva Brunch at the Punch Line featuring a boisterous cast of local drag queens. She also produces theatrical events and national drag tours. mimiimfurst.com
Miss Lisa Lisa – All-out with her charm offensive, Miss Lisa Lisa—“so nice, she was named twice”—is a local icon, strutting her stuff and touting her strong-as-steel personality weekly at Bob & Barbara’s on South Street. She’s also been known to introduce new queens and performers at-large to the scene with her freestyle slots during her shows.phillydragmafia.com/project/underboss-miss-lisa-lisa
VinChelle – This Nashville-born University of Arts graduate, who also goes by the nickname Shea Better Werk, also refers to herself as a “tribal queen.” The “Drag Queen of the Year” at the 2017 Drag Awards and winner of the 2015 Drag Wars often incorporates African costumes, song and dance into her stage shows. facebook.com/SheaButterWerk
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.
On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.
Thank you to Arturo Varela for the content of this post.
April will be a time for story-telling at The Plastic Club, as the historic art club invites visual artists to show how they retell the world’s stories, whether drawn from holy books or comic books or the depths of their own imaginations.
The prospectus explains that works can be representational or abstract, based perhaps on literature or perhaps on popular genres or even current events. “It is your story to tell, using your special way of doing art.”
The prospectus quotes the poet Wallace Stevens for inspiration: “They said, ‘You have a blue guitar, you do not play things as they are.’ The man replied, ‘Things as they are are changed upon the blue guitar.'”
Stories to TellOpening Reception Sunday, April 7th, 2:00 and 5:00 PM, with juror’s awards and announcement at 3:30 PM. The work can also be viewed by appointment or at The Plastic Club‘s special Third Sunday Open Gallery on Sunday, April 21 from 1 to 4 PM.
FELI*DELPHIA: Art Exhibition Benefiting Philly Kitty Rescue
at Boardroom Spirits Distillery
It is my pleasure to formally invite you to FELI*DELPHIA: Art Exhibition to Benefit the Philly Kitty Rescue! This is a passion project I have been working on throughout the winter: I’ve organized a group exhibition of over 60 “Philly” and/or “kitty” themed artworks, the proceeds of which will benefit this very special volunteer-run organization that rescues, fosters, and provides medical care for stray and homeless cats and kittens across greater Philadelphia, especially those with special needs. TPK is an organization very close to my heart: a lifelong animal lover, in 2017 I adopted my cat Rufus from them and have since developed a personal relationship with TPK’s founders as well as Rufus’ former foster families. Now I can’t imagine life without him! The event is being generously hosted by Boardroom Spirits Distillery in Lansdale, PA, a northwestern Philadelphia suburb, on Saturday April 6th from 3-8pm. During these hours, Boardoom will even be donating a percentage of their revenue to TPK. Read more information below!
In other news, I am currently exhibiting at two of the schools where I teach: Cecil College in Elkton, MD and the Wallingford Community Arts Center in Wallingford, PA (Media/Swarthmore). In the studio, I am continuing work on the second installation of paintings for Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, NY to follow last year’s WOMEN IN STEM series. Scroll down to read more on these and other events.
Finally: if you like to support the arts, small and local businesses, or simply enjoy receiving updates about my local and regional art events and projects, please Tell a Friend!! Share this newsletter with others who might want to Subscribe.
Seated Woman (Study for “La Grande Jatte”), c. 1884-1885, by Georges Seurat. Conte crayon on laid paper, Sheet: 11 13/16 × 6 1/2 inches. The Louis E. Stern Collection, 1963. Image courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.
The Impressionist’s Eye
Philadelphia Museum of Art to present the most extensive exhibition of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism ever to be assembled from its collection
April 16 – August 18, 2019
This spring the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present a broad survey of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Drawn almost entirely from its renowned collection, this exhibition will bring together more than 80 works in a variety of media—painting, sculpture, prints, drawings, and pastels— to illuminate the achievements of some of history’s most beloved artists. The Impressionist’s Eye will feature many of the museum’s most celebrated paintings—among them Claude Monet’s Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool, Mary Cassatt’s In the Loge, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance, and Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers—offering fresh insights into these works and placing them in conversation with other major examples by these artists and their contemporaries. For example, Renoir’s ambitious Great Bathers, newly conserved on the centenary of the artist’s death, will be shown alongside treatments of the same theme by Edgar Degas and Paul Cézanne.
The Impressionist’s Eye will include a number of important works on paper (shown in two rotations to avoid overexposing them to light) that have not been on view in the galleries for a decade or more, emphasizing the importance that the artists of these movements attached to working in a variety of media. Among these will be exquisite renderings in pen and ink by Van Gogh, sheets from Cézanne’s sketchbooks that were last exhibited at the museum in 1989, a drawing by Lautrec last shown at this museum in 1956, and one by Berthe Morisot that will be placed on view for the first time.
Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The Philadelphia Museum of Art contains one of the country’s most acclaimed collections of 19th century art, but rarely have we had the opportunity to show our Impressionist and Post-Impressionist holdings as comprehensively as we are able to do in this exhibition. Assembling them in The Impressionist’s Eye will enable us to convey the innovative and often boldly experimental character of the work of these artists as well as how fluidly they moved from one medium to another. The presentation of this exhibition in the Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries is accompanied by a beautiful new publication devoted to the collection. It also comes as the consequence of the comprehensive renovation—the first in nearly 25 years—that we are undertaking this spring of the galleries in which we show our collection of later 19th-century European painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. They will be closing temporarily as we proceed with much-needed improvements in tandem with the construction of the next phase—entitled the Core Project—of our facilities master plan designed by Frank Gehry.”
The development of Impressionism began in France in the 1870s in the work of artists such as Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro, and set the stage for the bold experiments with color, line, and form that would follow over the next several decades and radically alter the course of modern painting. The exhibition will include a number of works that were presented in the several Impressionist exhibitions held in the 1870s and 1880s, as well as informal sketches and studies that could be considered more experimental or personal in nature.
The Impressionist’s Eye will offer visitors new perspectives on the inventiveness and vision that the artists of this movement brought to their subjects. The choice of bold cropping and unusual points of view, their flattening of space and use of vibrant color and vigorous brushwork imbued their work with a bracing sense of modernity which startled contemporary audiences. Their radically way of painting also reflected a broad fascination with photography and with Japanese (Ukiyo-e) woodblock prints. Visitors will also see a significant number of works by many of the key figures of Post-Impressionism such as George Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cézanne, each of whom took the innovations of the Impressionists as their point of departure and then evolved in new and often dramatically different directions.
The exhibition has been organized around a series of themes that highlight the shared interest of these artists in certain subjects. Among these are Nature, The Modern City, Everyday Objects (or still life), People, and Bathers.
The introduction of commercially produced paint in tubes and the convenience of portable easels and paint sets, combined with the greater mobility afforded by the development of railroads, fostered the growing popularity of painting en plein air, or out-of-doors. The opening section of the exhibition demonstrates how firmly the artists associated with Impressionism were committed to recording their direct observations of nature and making the variability of light, color, and atmosphere a central element of their work. Among the highlights of this section are Camille Pissarro’s Railroad to Dieppe (1886), Monet’s Bend in the Epte River near Giverny (1888), Cézanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire (1902-04), as well as a lively pen and ink drawing executed in 1888 by Van Gogh titled Haystacks, which is remarkable for its swirling lines, bold dashes, and lively dots.
Paris provides the main inspiration for the next section of the exhibition, The Modern City. Some artists concentrated on the architecture of the French capital, capturing scenes of its grand boulevards or popular urban entertainments such as cabaret, ballet, and the theater. Artists such as Renoir, Pissarro, Edgar Degas, and Mary Cassatt captured many different aspects of the urban experience—the kinetic energy of great crowds traveling to and fro or a single figure caught at a moment of quiet reverie. A Woman and Girl Driving, by Cassatt, shows a modern woman—the artists’ elder sister—boldly taking the reins of a horse-drawn carriage in Paris alongside the niece of Degas. Toulouse-Lautrec’s At the Moulin-Rouge (1889-90) captures the demi-monde at play, with a dancer kicking up her skirts as she performs the can-can amid a crowd of top-hatted men. At the Paris Opera, Degas’s The Ballet Class, conveys the rigor of young girls learning their craft as a stage mother slumps with fatigue into a chair. Among the group of conté crayon drawings by Georges Seurat included in the exhibition, is a rare rendition of a woman, seated on the bank of an island in the Seine, which served as a study for the artist’s masterpiece, La Grande Jatte.
Another section focuses upon the different ways in which artists such as Edouard Manet and Paul Cézanne reanimated the traditional theme of still life painting, imbuing it with a new spirit and sense of ambition, aptly characterized by the latter when he said, “I want to astonish Paris with an apple.” Flower-filled vases (Renoir), artisanal cakes (Caillebotte), or a woven basket (Manet) were convenient subjects for the artists’ experimentation. “A painter can say all he wants to with fruit and flowers,” observed Manet, who focused on this familiar genre in nearly a fifth of his canvases. In these works, visitors are invited to witness everyday objects transformed through color, texture, and line.
Many of these artists were also keen observers of people. As Van Gogh noted in 1885, “Painted portraits have a life of their own that comes from deep in the soul of the painter and where the machine [the camera] can’t go.” His treatment of the postman Roulin’s wife clutching her baby Marcelle, created in 1888, possesses a luminous, almost otherworldly glow. In this section of the exhibition, works in clay, graphite, pastel, and paint reveal just how thoroughly the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists up-ended longstanding traditions of rendering the human figure. Drawings such as Cézanne’s Peasant Girl Wearing a Fichu and such sculptures as Degas’s Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, (modeled in wax, 1878-81 and cast in bronze, about 1922) reflect the unique qualities that different media offered to these artists to enable them to capture the unique character and vivacity of their subjects. Responding to the recent advent of photography, artists sought to convey the character of the sitter in ways that seem both direct and spontaneous, as demonstrated in Bethe Morisot’s Young Woman with Brown Hair, 1894.
The same observations can be made of their treatment of the timeless subject of the nude, a theme that especially fascinated Renoir, Degas, and Cézanne. Renoir’s Great Bathers, (1884-87) will be seen in The Impressionist’s Eye for the first time since the completion of a year-long conservation treatment and cleaning, a project generously supported by the Bank of America Art Conservation Project. The artist labored over this canvas, seeking to establish a new direction for his work and to create an image that would be both contemporary in spirit and rival the great masters of the Renaissance. The installation will enable visitors to appreciate it in a state that now more closely resembles how it looked when the artist completed it, and in the company of some of the greatest works of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“For three years Renoir wrestled with this work,” notes Jennifer Thompson, the museum’s Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting & Sculpture & Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection, who organized the exhibition. “Just howexhaustively, we knew from notes left by Berthe Morisot, but seeing the cross-sections and x-rays taken by our specialists in Conservation has reaffirmed precisely how much he questioned himself and started over, again and again.”
The Impressionists Eye, as an exhibition drawn from the collection, also offers a record of collecting, tastes, and insight into the cultural life of Philadelphia in the 19th and 20th centuries, beginning with Mary Cassatt, the American in Paris who early on persuaded her family members in this city and others around the country to purchase the work of the Impressionists, touching off a new vogue in collecting. “Philadelphia was a vibrant center for collecting in the during this period,” Thompson notes, “and the museum’s Impressionist holdings were indelibly shaped by the taste and civic spirit of those individuals, much as today’s collectors of contemporary art collectors enrich the cultural life of our city.”
Support The Impressionist’s Eye has been made possible by Presenting Sponsor Bank of America.
Contributions to this exhibition have been made by The Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, The Laura and William C. Buck Endowment for Exhibitions, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Fund for Special Exhibitions, The Harriet and Ronald Lassin Fund for Special Exhibitions, Lyn M. Ross, Joan F. Thalheimer, The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Fund for Exhibitions, and an anonymous donor.
Support for both The Impressionist’s Eye exhibition and the reinstallation of the galleries of nineteenth-century European painting has been generously provided by Lois G. and Julian A. Brodsky.
Support for the reinstallation of the galleries of nineteenth-century European painting has been generously provided by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, Harriet and Ron Lassin, Martha McGeary Snider, and other donors.
Credits as of February 28, 2019
Publication The exhibition is accompanied by Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the first publication from the museum to focus on its internationally renowned Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections ($35). Written by Jennifer A. Thompson with contributions by Joseph J. Rishel and Eileen Owens, and co-published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Press (240 pages; 224 color, 8 black-and-white illustrations), it focuses upon one of the most significant collections of Impressionism and Post Impressionism in the country, with two hundred Cézannes, twenty-three Monets, and more than fifty Renoirs.
Thompson’s introductory essay examines the circumstances and individuals—including Mary Cassatt’s brother, the Philadelphia railroad executive Alexander J. Cassatt, depicted in a painting by his sister—that led to the formation of the collection. It provides entries on ninety highlights, including Cézanne’s The Large Bathers, Degas’s Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Monet’s Japanese Bridge and Waterlily Pond, Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge, and Renoir’s Great Bathers. Paintings, sculpture, and drawings by figures such as Cassatt, Seurat, Manet, Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Morisot, and Auguste Rodin are presented together, providing a rich and encompassing view of these artists and the innovative works they created across mediums.
The entries explore the artists’ aims and challenges, discuss conservation discoveries, and consider the works within the contexts of the art market, social history, fashion, and politics. Comparative illustrations, such as related works from Philadelphia and other collections, preparatory drawings, X-rays demonstrating substantial alterations, and period photographs, add to an understanding of each work.
Changes in the Nineteenth Century Galleries Beginning March 25, 2019, seven rooms dedicated to nineteenth century paintings on the first floor of the main building will close for renovation, including galleries 151, 152, 159, 156, 157, 160, 161. Several of these will reopen in July, and the full suite will be reopened following the conclusion of The Impressionist’s Eye. Currently closed for renovation are galleries 150 and 153. On March 25, these galleries reopen with works by Couture, Courbet, Corot, and Millet, a new installation focusing on the rejection of idealism, the treatment of “ordinary” subjects, and technical innovations in painting outdoors and in the use of bold, gestural brushwork.
Curator Jennifer Thompson, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting & Sculpture & Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection
Location Philadelphia Museum of Art, Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130 215-763-8100 Tuesday–Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Wednesday & Friday: Main building open until 8:45 p.m. Closed Monday except for some holidays
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