The Oklahoma City Museum of Art will be the one and only venue for Paris 1900, on exhibit through March 2, 2008. Bringing together more than 100 paintings, prints, posters, ceramics, decorative objects, and sculptures, the exhibition reveals the height of the Paris art scene at the turn of the twentieth century.
The 1900 Paris Universal Exposition, which celebrated the opening of the new century, emphasized the arts and is associated with the maturation of the complex and sensual beauty of the convoluted style of art, architecture, and interior design known as art nouveau. The exhibition revels the very interesting variety and extraordinary quality of the wide range of art forms associated with fin de siècle Paris.
Paris 1900 explores important aspects of the art nouveau movement, while delving into other artistic and technological innovations that caused Paris to emerge as the center of artistic creativity as well as how advancements in the arts produced such a culturally rich period in history. It includes key artists and leading poster makers, such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha, and Jules Chéret, whose works drew attention to everything from performances at the Moulin Rouge to new commercial products.
The exhibition introduces this period with large photographs of interiors designed by artists under the guidance of art dealer Siegfried Bing. Bing’s Maison de l’Art Nouveau, which was presented in the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition, featured rooms designed by leading artists and designers of the period, such as Edward Colonna, Georges de Feure, and Eugene Gaillard. Bing encouraged artists to work together in creating unified and organic interiors and was prominent in the introduction of Japanese art to the West.
To show the direct influence of Japanese art, four color woodblock prints by Japanese artist Andÿ Hiroshige as well as Bing’s Japon Artistique with turn-of-the-century interpretations of the prints are included in Paris 1900. The Japanese prints illustrate the very different use of perspective, expressive color, and line that had been used by artists since the Renaissance. The incorporation of this style into European art can be seen in many of the ceramics, paintings, and posters by artists working in Paris around 1900.
Paris 1900 features fine examples of art pottery by French master potters such as Adrien Pierre Dalpayrat, Paul Jeanneney, Edmond Lachenal, and Ernest Chaplet. Their skillful and inventive designs, many of which were presented in the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition, helped further the international renaissance of the applied arts. The exhibition includes works by Lachenal that reveal the number of different historical styles that were being used. Nymph and Lily Vase by Agnes de Frumerie for Lachenal is one of the more interesting examples of how sculpture and ceramics were combined in art pottery.
Several paintings by Charles Guilloux highlight the influences of early-nineteenth-century Japanese art. Guilloux’s L’Inondation, a dreamy landscape composed of rows of trees and water, brings to mind the simplified design, soft tones, and atmospheric effects of Andÿ Hiroshige’s prints, seen previously in the exhibition. Other key painters include Charles Maurin, Maurice Denis, and Alphonse Osbert, whose subjects and styles are quite varied, ranging from Maurin’s sphinx-like femme fatale to the angelic mortals in Denis’s mural paintings and the classical figures of Osbert. The subject of dreams and dream-like states permeates many paintings from the late nineteenth century. It was an interest that also can be found in the early psychological studies of hypnosis and the related investigation of the unconscious by Dr. Jean Martin Charcot, of whom Sigmund Freud was a pupil.
Paris 1900 concludes with key works by some of the most important poster and magazine cover designers of the period. These artists depicted everything from theater, circus, and cabaret performances to advertisements for soap, cigarettes, and publications, approaching their subjects in a unique way that redefined commercial art. The graphic works by these artists also made the connection between Japanese and eighteenth-century French art. One such work is Jules Chéret’s Jardin de Paris. This work features costumed figures inspired by the Parisian theater of the eighteenth century, along with decorative lines and flat fields of bright color reminiscent of Japanese prints. Other pioneering graphic artists included are Georges de Feure, Alphonse Mucha, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, located in the heart of the downtown Arts District, 415 Couch Drive east of the Civic Center Music Hall. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm; Thursday, 10am-9pm; Sunday, Noon-5pm and closed on Mondays and major holidays. Gallery admission is $9 adults, $7 seniors and students, children five and under and Museum members receive free admission. Film admission is $8 adults, $6 seniors and students, $5 for members.
For more information, call (405) 236-3100 or online at www.okcmoa.com
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