Neo-Decadent

The Art and Opinions of Heidi Celeghin, Aesthete

German Impressionism in the MFAH

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I recently saw the German Impressionism exhibit in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, after having attended Professor Marion Deshmukh‘s lecture “Berlin 1900 and the Triumvirate of Impressionism.”

 

Terrace in the Garden near the Wannsee towards Northwest

Terrace in the Garden near the Wannsee towards Northwest, Max Liebermann (1916)

For the first time in 30 years a museum in the United States is hosting a exhibit dedicated solely to German Impressionism.  This fact makes “A Variation of Impressionism” particularly relevant and it hopefully will introduce people to a facet of painting with which they are not particularly acquainted.  Most Americans are familiar with French Impressionism but not with German Impressionism, a topic Professor Deshmukh touched upon in her lecture.  During the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, Americans often visited France and bought Impressionist artwork.  Consequently, American museums (taken as a whole) have strong collections in French Impressionist artwork.

Impressionism came to Germany late, mostly due to the tense political relations between France and Germany following the Franco-Prussian War.  When Impressionism finally began flourishing in Germany, the artists adhering to the movement had to overcome an unsupportive government.  The German government preferred the more traditional classical school of painting, refusing to exhibit German Impressionist artwork.

Despite such setbacks, artists continued to produce Impressionist artwork and a new style of Impressionism was born in Germany.  The artists Lovis Corinth, Max Liebermann, and Max Slevogt formed the Triumvirate of Impressionism.

Country House in Hilversum—Villa in Hilversum

Country House in Hilversum—Villa in Hilversum

One of my favorite paintings on display in the MFAH is Liebermann’s Country House in Hilversum—Villa in Hilversum (1901).  The composition is particularly striking in that Liebermann uses a large tree to cut through the canvas, both obfuscating and framing the house.  The house is truly integrated into the painting and although it is the focus, it does not dominate the canvas.  The architecture does not fight against the natural surroundings.

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Author: Heidi Celeghin

ARTIST’S STATEMENT The theories guiding my art practice are largely defined by my academic background in Decadence and Aestheticism. I am concerned with the status of the image: seductive, unknowable, dangerous, and immortal. The image exists in a liminal space between illusion and reality, lies and truths, life and death. As such, the image represents the sublime. Once created, the image exists beyond the artist – it grows independently from the artist and is constantly being recreated. On the one hand, it captures a single, exquisite moment in time and therefore holds the valence of stasis and death. On the other hand, the image’s perpetual recreation means that it captures the myriad of experiences Walter Pater discusses in the conclusion to The Renaissance and therefore, it holds the valence of metamorphosis and life. It is particularly fascinating when the distinction between Art and reality begin to fall apart. Is it Art that imitates life or life that imitates Art? Major Events and Public Projects: Houston Zoo, painting-for-conservation initiative (June 2011-present) Barcelona World Race, Team Neutrogena artist (December 2010-May 2011) Select Exhibitions: Singapore via INSTINC artist residency, solo exhibition (June 2012) Limb Design, Houston, Texas, group exhibition (April 2012) Jack Hanna Gala, Houston Zoo, solo exhibit (October 2011) Watson Gallery, Houston, Texas, group exhibit (October 2011) Norma R. Ory Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, group exhibit (2011) Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Houston, Texas, Awty International Gala (2011) Willard Straight Art Gallery, group exhibit for Forword Literary Magazine (2009) Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, group exhibit (2009) Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, group exhibit (2008) Hayloft Gallery, Reliant Center, Houston, Texas, group exhibit (2006) Hayloft Gallery, Reliant Center, Houston, Texas, group exhibit (2005) Art Fairs: Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong (2013) Affordable Art Fair, Singapore (2012) Affordable Art Fair, New York (2012)

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