The real and the imaginary in European art

The Doge’s Palace (The Ducal Palace). Claude Monet. Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.

Opening on February 4, 2022, the new thematic relocation of the museum’s famous 19th and 20th century European art collections features nearly ninety significant paintings, sculptures and works on paper, many of which were not exhibited together. in Brooklyn since 2016.

Monet in Morisot marks the reinstallation of the Brooklyn Museum’s collection of historic and foundational works of European art by artists born in Europe or in its colonies, highlighting selections from the 19th and 20th centuries by artists such as Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Berthe Morisot, Francisco Oller, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Gabriele Münter, Yves Tanguy and Vasily Kandinsky. Taking a fresh look at the collection, this presentation explores not only the deep and continuing influence of modern European art, but also how the historical canon of art itself is a place of tension. Many of these works are on display together in Brooklyn for the first time since 2016, when they began touring the United States and Asia as part of the acclaimed exhibition. French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850-1950.

Monet to Morisot: the real and the imagined in European art is curated by Lisa Small, Senior Curator, European Art, with Shea Spiller and Talia Shiroma, Curatorial Assistants, Arts of the Americas and Europe.

“It’s exciting that so many of Brooklyn’s extraordinary modern European art collections, including some of our early acquisitions by Degas and Cézanne, are once again on display in a beautifully designed space where visitors can relive them, alongside “Discoveries” rarely seen by artists like Chana Orloff and Ivan MeÅ¡trovic, “says Lisa Small. “I am particularly excited by the opportunity offered by this presentation and future presentations of European art to reexamine and expand the stories we can tell with these objects, to make connections between all of the museum’s collections and, above all, to think critically about what and what is missing.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, a time of significant social and artistic transformation, artists moved away from traditional forms of representation to depict scenes from ordinary contemporary life. They began to explore the nature of vision as well as their own subjectivities in works that increasingly attracted new, upper-middle-class urban consumers. The common thread of this “real / imagined” exhibition offers an evocative and flexible lens through which to examine the nearly ninety paintings, drawings, engravings and sculptures through five interdependent themes of portraiture, of “exoticism”. and “primitivism”, of work, of faith and of conflict. , and landscape. These works are organized non-chronologically and encourage critical questions about their ideological foundations, such as: what is real and what is imagined in works that affirm and reflect certain views on the genre , class, work, colonialism and nature? By and for whom are such collective repositories produced?

Generally speaking, the presentation reminds visitors that the traditional canon of European art history, illustrated by numerous works on display, made by white artists and almost exclusively representing whites, is both imaginary and real. It’s a construction envisioned by a narrow, self-proclaimed constituency that has had a real impact on what museums like the Brooklyn Museum have chosen to collect and display for decades.

About Carlos V. Mitchell

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