Hi everyone! It’s officially the end of summer, and while I’m excited to get back on campus and in the studio, I can’t help but feel a little deserted. It feels like summer slipped away from me; things I had been hoping to do never happened, and I didn’t get to go to the beach nearly as much as I hoped to. The biggest thing I was regretting was not visiting more museums this summer – I mean, I’m a forty minute train ride from New York City! Luckily, Long Island has some great museums, too, and my best friend surprised me and our other friend with tickets to the Nassau County Museum of Art. And by surprise, I mean she wouldn’t tell us where we were going until we got there. And then she made me pay her $18 for the ticket she already bought without telling us. But it was still a nice surprise!
The first floor has four rooms, all of which feature impressionist and post-impressionist artists. What I really liked about these rooms was that, in each painting, I could sense the transition from impressionism into twentieth century art movements. It felt like seeing into the future and getting a glimpse at what was to come.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Dance at the Moulin Rouge, La Goulue and Valentin le Désossée (1895) shows Valentin le Désossée, the star of the Moulin Rouge, dancing with a man, but their figures appear to be almost box-like. The man’s stance seems abnormal, which his legs stretched out and his feet turned. To me, this resembles cubism, a movement popularized by Pablo Picasso in the 1910’s. Although I can’t say for sure that Picasso had seen or been inspired by Toulouse-Lautrec, I don’t doubt that the two were inspired by similar desires to expand the way artists think about their subjects.
Maurice Denis’ Madonna and Child in Sunset (1907) was my favorite painting in the exhibit. I loved the pastel colors and how happy the painting felt. I always feel drawn to paintings of mothers with children, because they always remind me of my mom. My house is filled with art depicting motherhood, whether its a small ceramic statue or a painting of a child in the womb. What really struck me about this piece was that Mary looks happy. I find that depictions of Mary and Jesus often show Mary with a blank, stoic expression. In this painting, Mary’s expression feels like love, like the motherhood my mom has shown me. Seeing this painting, too, felt like a glimpse at a future art movement: fauvism. Fauvism is characterized by the use of bright, unnatural colors. The movement was led by Henir Matisse, but was short-lived – from 1905 to 1908. This means that Madonna and Child in Sunset was created right in the middle of this movement! Although a bit of research claims that Denis was not a fauvist artist, his theories are regarded with as having contributed to the movement.
If this exhibition was truly about the transition from impressionism to modern art movements, then it makes perfect sense why the upstairs was filled with Andy Warhol paintings. Andy Warhol pioneered the pop art movement in the 1960’s and on. Warhol’s pop art is similar to Japanese prints, which inspired many Impressionist artists. However, it is is use of color and line that defines his work, making it truly ‘pop’. His use of bright colors to take the mundane and make it exciting is reminiscent of fauvism, and Warhol does this in a new, brilliant way. He is able to make wonderful art of any subject he chose, which is something he would have been unable to do prior to the impressionist movement. I find it so interesting how interconnected the art world is. In Art History classes, we define art by it’s movement or era or age, giving it a category to fit in to help us understand the significance of each piece relative to the time it was created. I think this can sometimes warp our sense of transition. Was the fauvism movement really short lived, or did it transform into something new and continue to this day? That’s the beauty of art: it’s timeless.