ABU DHABI: The largest exhibition of Impressionist masterpieces in the Middle East has opened at the Louvre Abu Dhabi – just in time for the 5e uae museum anniversary.
Until February 5, 2023, the exhibition titled “Impressionism: the ways of modernity” presents more than one hundred paintings and engravings by the pioneers of Impressionism, including Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Berthe Morisot and Gustave Caillebotte.
Known for its lightness, ephemeral nature and free brushstrokes, Impressionism flourished in 1870s Paris as the capital entered modernity and underwent significant social change. This revolutionary artistic movement is particularly admired today.
“When you are faced with an impressionist painting, you always have the feeling that it is really fresh”, declares one of the curators of the exhibition, Stéphane Guégan, in an interview granted to Arab News. “It is the result of a very direct and very spontaneous work; it is the feeling of looking through the eyes of the painter.”
At the time, however, the Impressionists – who had their first exhibition in 1874 – were seen as radicals. They broke free from the constraints of classical art, then highly regarded, and were strongly castigated by the press and critics.
“It was controversial… Some were more skeptical and even criticized this kind of painting,” notes Mr. Guégan. “Paintings were considered unfinished, like sketches.”
“To sum up the negative echoes of the first Impressionist exhibition, I would say that many felt that the painters were trying to ridicule visitors and enthusiasts of the time,” he continues.
In some ways, through their vibrant images, the Impressionists acted as social commentators. The themes they cover are particularly varied: sophisticated stations and bridges, outings to the countryside, women dressed in elegant dresses, bourgeois interiors…
“France and Europe have transformed into very modern societies and painters have responded to this by changing the subject of their painting and the way they depict the outside world,” says Guégan.
In addition to exploring the themes of urbanization and nature, their art brings fashion into the image, notably showing five costumes from the late 1800s. For Mr. Guégan, “there is a link between fashion and modern painting, since both attempted to respond to the transitory aspect of modernity”.
This Franco-Emirati cultural event was made possible in particular thanks to the exceptional participation of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, which will lend, for the first time, a large number of its paintings to the Arab world.
The exhibition will include The balcony by Manet, The cradle of Morisot and an emblematic representation of London Parliaments of Monet, often considered “the father of Impressionism”.
“In bringing together this incredible series of masterpieces, we wanted visitors to Abu Dhabi and other parts of the region to have the chance to see them,” says Guégan. “It never hurts to see masterpieces,” he concludes.
This text is the translation of an article published on Arabnews.com