Saturday, December 31, 2011

Post-Impressionist Painters Seize the Moment with New Handheld Camera

This winter the Phillips presents over 200 photographs, some never exhibited, along with over 70 paintings and prints by Bonnard, Vuillard, and others

Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard is co-organized by The Phillips Collection, the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Generous support provided by John and Gina Despres. Funded in part by The Florence Gould Foundation. Additional support from Craig M. Gayhardt.

Washington, D.C.—The invention of the Kodak handheld camera in 1888 gave post-impressionist artists a new source of inspiration. Seven artists—well known for their paintings and prints—who used the apparatus to document their public spheres and private lives, produced surprising, inventive results. Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard is the first exhibition to focus on how the new technology energized the artists’ working methods and creative vision. Presenting over 200 photographs along with over 70 paintings and prints from renowned international collections, the exhibition is on view at the Phillips from Feb. 4 through May 6, 2012.

Just as people snap photographs with their digital cameras and cell phones today, Pierre Bonnard, George Hendrik Breitner, Maurice Denis, Henri Evenepoel, Henri Rivière, Félix Vallotton, and Edouard Vuillard used the camera to capture intimate moments with their family and trips to the countryside with friends. They sometimes translated their photographic images directly into their paintings, but more often took photographs simply to explore the world. When viewed alongside the artists’ paintings, drawings, and prints, the snapshots reveal fascinating parallels in radical foreshortening, cropping, lighting, silhouettes, and vantage points. Snapshot presents a lively dialogue among the various media.

     The richly illustrated 248-page exhibition catalogue is published by Yale University Press in association with The Phillips Collection, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Edited by curator Elizabeth Easton with contributions from Phillips Chief Curator Eliza Rathbone and Indianapolis Museum of Art Chief Curator Ellen W. Lee, the catalogue also includes essays by leading scholars from the George Eastman House, Centre Pompidou, Musée d’Orsay, Princeton University, Netwerk (a contemporary art center in Belgium), Fondation Félix Vallotton, and the Rijksmuseum. Essays about the development of the camera and amateur photography are complemented with entries about each artist. The book is available in the museum shop for $50.00 beginning November 29, 2011.

The Phillips Collection | 1600 21st NW | Washington, DC 20009

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