Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, Neo-Impressionists: 19th-Century Prints and Drawings

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    Edgar Hilaire Germain Degas (French, 1834–1917). 'The Bath: Woman Sponging Her Back,' c. 1887. Pastel on paper. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry B. Clark Jr., 1979 (17400)

January 15, 2015 - May 24, 2015
Honolulu Museum of Art


Exhibition Overview

In the 19th century, the graphic arts—printmaking and drawing—diverged from their traditional illustrative function to become fertile ground for innovation and personal expression. Noting this trend, the influential poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire singled out printmaking as “the sharpest possible translation of the character of the artist,” and with this statement heralded an era of experimentation in etching, draftsmanship, and lithography.

This exhibition traces the legacy of Baudelaire’s observation through a selection of rarely exhibited fine prints and master drawings from the museum’s collection. Etchings by Impressionist painters show how the numerous applications of this largely untested medium achieved unforeseen (and often astonishing) ends at the hands of artists famously concerned with the temporal and the fleeting, while Post-Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist lithographs  demonstrate how planographic techniques proved particularly appealing to artists seeking sharp linearity and chromatic precision. Prints and drawings associated with Symbolism will reveal how the intimacy of the sketch and the printed page yielded intensely private images that suggest emotional, psychological, and even spiritual states; as residual traces of first thoughts and nascent ideas, these works paved the way for Modernism in the visual arts.

Exhibition includes artwork by Cassatt, Cézanne, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Pissarro, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Vuillard.