Published: December 17, 2002
ATLANTA, GA. – The treasures of France’s second largest museum are having their US debut at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art. The High is featuring more than 100 works from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, renowned for its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection, in “: Masterworks from the Musée d’Orsay” on view through March 16.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Atlanta is hosting a citywide initiative to celebrate French life and culture with special events and activities at local restaurants, hotels, and other cultural organizations. After debuting at the High, the exhibition will travel to its only other American venue, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, from April 6 through June 29.
“” offers visitors a broad context in which to gain a deeper understanding of turn-of-the-century Paris. The exhibition and accompanying catalog are arranged in seven themes: Art Nouveau, the Dark Side, the Eiffel Tower, Grand Theaters, High Society, New Directions and Views of the City. Along these thematic guidelines, the exhibition presents various approaches to the portrayal of Paris at the point where history, art, society, science, fashion, architecture and politics merged. Each theme – explored through paintings, sculpture, photography, works on paper and decorative art objects – offers a different perspective into the era that shaped the modern world.
In addition to works by Impressionist masters such as Monet, Degas, Caillebotte, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Manet, works by “avant-garde” artists such as Cézanne, van Gogh, and Rousseau exemplify the radical shift in style that was preeminent at the turn of the century.
Originally built as a train station and hotel for the Universal Exposition of 1900, the Orsay’s steel and glass structure, stucco decoration and Beaux-Arts façade exemplify the spirit of Paris at the turn of the century – a time in which Paris was the undeniable epicenter of the modern cultural world. Designed by Victor Laloux, the Gare d’Orsay resembled the Grand Palais, which had been used as the primary temporary exhibition space for European art in Paris.
The French state’s holdings of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings were formally housed in the Jeu de Paume pavilion, which, by the early 1970s, could no longer accommodate the growing collection. French officials set out to find a new home for the collection; a building that could symbolically represent the “new Nineteenth Century.” The Gare d’Orsay captured the bustle and excrdf_Descriptionent of Paris, and successfully conveyed the sense of progress and growth. The Musée d’Orsay opened its doors to the public in 1986, becoming one of three national museums in Paris, along with the Louvre and the Pompidou Centre. This exhibition marks the first time since the Orsay opened that its collection has traveled to the United States.
The accompanying catalog, co-published by the High Museum of Art and Harry N. Abrams, is a 160-page fully illustrated volume that includes individual essays on the seven themes represented in the exhibition. It includes a foreword by renowned New York Times art critic John Russell, an introduction by Mary G. Morton, associate curator of European Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and thematic essays by Musée d’Orsay curators Caroline Mathieu and Marc Bascou; Mary Morton; and the High’s chief curator David Brenneman. The hardcover book is $29.95.
In conjunction with organizing the exhibition, the High has developed a new website devoted to “.” The site, www.ParisinAtlanta.org, features extensive information on the artists represented in the exhibition; on the seven exhibition themes and on a number of works of art that visitors will see in the museum. The site also contains information about the related museum and citywide programs accompanying the exhibition.
The High is at 1280 Peachtree Street at 16th Street, MARTA “Arts Center” (N5). For information, 404-733-HIGH or www.high.org.
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