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Monday, May 27, 2024

The Impressionists' first flowering is still fresh after 150 years.

Arts and EntertainmentThe Impressionists' first flowering is still fresh after 150 years.

Something new was afoot in Paris 150 years ago. An ad hoc band of 31 artists held an independent exhibition of modern art in response to the annual state sponsored Salon. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, is putting on a blockbuster show called "Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism." It features many of the most-beloved paintings associated with the Impressionist movement. Ballet dancers wearing tutus and black-ribboned necks are in Degas' ballets, with his scenes of rehearsals and performances. Pierre-Auguste Renoir is here, too, with his bourgeois couple in finery taking in an evening of theater from their box high above the stage. Claude Monet is known as the "Father of Impressionism" due to his light-filled "plein air" paintings and their short, energetic brushstrokes. The show is an excavation of a historical moment that is more complex and artistic than is often understood. The Orsay exhibition co-curators emphasize the importance of context to show how artists and their works are a product of their time. What was happening outside the walls of the exhibition was just as important as what was happening inside.

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