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KEY Oklahoma City

Millet to Matisse

Nineteenth- and Twentieth- Century French Painting from Kelvingrove Art Gallery

Visitors to Oklahoma City have the unique opportunity to view Millet to Matisse: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century French Painting from Kelvingrove Art Gallery beginning September 9 and continuing through December 5, 2004, at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Drawn from Glasgow’s distinguished Kelvingrove Art Gallery, the exhibition includes 64 paintings rarely seen outside Scotland. Millet to Matisse includes works from the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modern periods by such masters as Monet, Renoir, Cassatt, Cézanne, van Gogh, and Picasso. The exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts (AFA) and the Glasgow Museums.

The collection of French paintings gives a fascinating and valuable overview of the major styles and the prevailing art in France from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is one of six United States museums to host the exhibition.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow houses one of the most important collections of French paintings in Great Britain. For Millet to Matisse, Guest Curator Vivien Hamilton has selected sixty-four of the Gallery’s most acclaimed paintings by artists who worked in France during the extraordinary period of creativity between 1830 and 1930.

Comprised mostly of gifts and bequests, the collection reflects the shifting trends in the dealing and collecting of French art in western Scotland during an economically and culturally fertile period. Glasgow’s appreciation for French art also played a vital role in the emergence of various local artistic movements which found inspiration in the works of Corot, Millet, Courbet, and the Barbizon group and later were influenced by the technique and palette of Cézanne, Gauguin, and Matisse.

“This exhibition includes some of the best French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings to be seen outside of Paris,” said Hardy George, Museum Chief Curator, “and the Museum is pleased to offer its visitors the unique opportunity to see extraordinary paintings not seen before in this region.”

Organized thematically, the exhibition begins during the mid-nineteenth century with a selection of works by the painters associated with various realist styles, including the landscape painters of the Barbizon School. Paintings included in this section range from the powerfully rendered Going to Work (1850–51) by Millet to idealized views of the rural poor by Jules Breton. These painters’ exploration of the native landscapes of France is often seen as the precursor to the Impressionists’ investigation of the suburbs of Paris.

In addition to works by Pissarro and Sisley, Monet’s View of Ventimiglia (1884) is on view as well as paintings by Renoir and Seurat, which bring Impressionism into the twentieth century. Turn-of-the-century Paris then witnessed avant-garde artists and styles that influenced twentieth-century painting. Paintings by Braque and Picasso round out the selection of twentieth-century works.

Two landscapes by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) and Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) show how both artists were aware of Impressionism, but developed their own unique styles. Van Gogh's portrait of Glasgow art dealer Alexander Reid, illustrates the role art dealers played in the formation of the collection at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. Reid was one of the major figures responsible for bringing 19th-century French art to Scotland. Georges Seurat's (1859-1891) Boy Sitting on the Grass (about 1882) and The River Banks (about 1883) are among the notable Post-Impressionist works.
Pablo Picasso's (1881-1973) The Flower Seller (1901), and a group of works by Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940) and Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), as well as Fauve paintings by André Derain (1880-1954), Raoul Dufy (1877-1953), and Henri Matisse (1869-1954), take the exhibition into the early 20th century.

A 215-page lavishly illustrated catalog provides a short essay on each work along with full catalog details, and audio tours of the exhibition are available. Admission to the exhibition is $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, children five and under and Museum members are free. Group tours are $4 per person for fifteen or more. Educational tours are sponsored by The Inasmuch Foundation. For more information on education tours call (405) 236-3100, ext. 212. For more additional information call (405) 236-3100, ext. 237.

The exhibition has been brought to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art by the Presenting Sponsor, The Inasmuch Foundation. Season sponsors include GlobalHealth, The Bowers Foundation, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Cox Communications, Devon Energy Corporation, Kerr-McGee Corp., and MidFirst Bank. Exhibition sponsors are Ad Astra Foundation, Bob Moore Auto Group, Kirkpatrick Foundation Meade Investments, Oklahoma Arts Council, Oklahoma Humanities Council, and Schlumberger. Education sponsors include Sarkeys Foundation and Sonic, America’s Drive-In Education Endowments.

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