Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye

At the National Gallery of Art reception for Caillebotte exhibition.

This is the last week to see Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. If you love Paris, don’t miss this one. It closes October 4th.

Fifty
paintings—shades and shapes and inventive perspectives of nudes, river scenes,
still-lifes, landscapes, city scapes, and interiors—all draw you in for deeper
reflection.

If
Caillebotte’s name is unfamiliar, that’s because he didn’t need to make money
from his work. His family was wealthy so he often supported artists, amassing
works of Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Monet and others. But he was a talented artist
whose most famous painting (and museum store often reproduced image) in the USA
is his “Paris on a Rainy Day,” 1877, (see below) from The Art Institute of Chicago but on
loan for this exhibit. (And was my favorite umbrella underside image until it
wore out. Alas, the museum store no longer makes the large size umbrella, just
the mini version.) It’s a moody gem. You can feel the wet cobblestones of
Parisian boulevards.

In
outdoor scenes there’s the impression of walking over bridges beside
well-heeled ladies and gents from the 19th century. Inside, the intimate
connection is as strong. Gaze at “Floor Scrappers,” 1875, now in the collection
of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. It’s a gritty look at laborers in action, but
during the second Impressionist Salon of 1876—having been rejected from the
1875 Academy of Fine Arts
Salon—Caillebotte offended critics by his shirtless workers.

Considered
an Impressionist, Caillebotte had a modernist sensibility, and his inspiration
seems to come more from photography. His cropped close-ups, odd angles, and
altered perspective all mesh with a photographer’s eye. Two of my favorites: Young Man Playing the Piano, 1876, and The Boulevard Seen
from Above
,
1880.

After the exhibit leaves the
Washington, DC, it travels to Kimbell Art Museum,
Fort Worth, where it’s on view November 8, 2015–February 14, 2016.

Images from the National Gallery of Art Website: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/exhibitions/2015/gustave-caillebotte.html?from=home-page except photo above from exhibit wall.

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