Published: June 18, 2002
PORTLAND, MAINE – Opening June 27, the Portland Museum of Art’s major summer exhibition, “Neo-Impressionism: Artists on the Edge,” will feature more than 55 paintings, watercolors, prints, and drawings culled from private and public collections throughout the United States and Europe.
“Neo-Impressionism: Artists on the Edge,” on view through October 20, will include such artists as Georges Seurat, originator of the Neo-Impressionism movement, Paul Signac, Henri Edmond Cross, Maximilien Luce, and Théo van Rysselberghe, among others. This is the first exhibition in Maine’s history devoted to Neo-Impressionism.
Neo-Impressionism, also known as “pointillism” and “divisionism,” flourished from the mid-1880s to around 1900 in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and elsewhere, and it continued to influence artists working in the early Twentieth Century. It is a style characterized by unmixed colors placed meticulously side by side on the canvas in small, uniform dots or squares. The artist’s goal, using then-contemporary scientific and optical theories, was to recreate the effects of light as vividly as possible, and the resulting paintings are typically luminous and colorful.
“Neo-Impressionism: Artists on the Edge” conveys the rich diversity of this complex movement, with its wide array of individual practitioners working over several generations, in different countries, and in ever-changing styles. The earliest works in the exhibition date from the mid 1880s — including paintings by Seurat, Signac, and Albert Dubois-Pillet – while the latest works, by the likes of Henri Martin and Ludovic de Vallée, reveal artists working in the 1920s who continued to draw inspiration from Neo-Impressionism well after the movement’s prime.
This exhibition honors the life of Selma Wolfe Black, one of Maine’s most effective advocates for education, rights of the elderly, and social change, and the mother of the collector, lender to the exhibition, and museum trustee Scott M. Black. Black was one of Maine’s most loved and admired citizens, and this exhibition is a special opportunity to celebrate her unique qualities and achievements.
The museum is publishing an illustrated catalog to accompany the exhibition. Essayists, each of whom responds individually to the notion of “on the edge,” include Carrie Haslett, Joan Whitney Payson Curator at the PMA and curator of this exhibition; Michael Marlais, James M. Gillespie Professor of Art at Colby College, Waterville, Maine; and Sabrina DeTurk, assistant provost at La Salle University, Philadelphia. The catalog will be available this summer in the Museum Shop.
The Portland Museum of Art is located at Seven Congress Square and is open 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and 10 am to 9 pm on Thursday and Friday. Memorial Day through Columbus Day, the Museum is open on Mondays from 10 am to 5 pm. For information 207-775-6148 or visit www.portlandmuseum.org.
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