Memphis Brooks Museum of Art/Organised by the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
7 October 2005-29 January 2006
Born in Bourges, France in 1841, Morisot was the daughter of a successful civil servant. Her family moved to Paris in 1852 where she soon revealed her extraordinary painting and drawing talent as a young girl. She copied masterpieces in the Louvre and painted from nature. She first exhibited her paintings at the official salon in 1864 and continued to show her pictures in the annual Salons until 1873.
In 1868, Berthe Morisot met Edouard Manet and they began a lifelong friendship. Manet painted Morisot 14 times. She learnt much from Manet, although she never formally studied with him. In 1874, Degas invited her to exhibit with a group of independent artists, among them Claude Monet, Renoir and Camille Pissarro - imminently the infamous Impressionists. Degas especially approved of Morisot's canvases, the loose brushstrokes, unfinished backgrounds and light-infused colours, which he said epitomised the Impressionists' aims. Morisot continued to exhibit with them until their last exhibition in 1886.
Morisot married Eugene Manet - Edouard's brother - in December 1874, when she was 33. She defied convention by continuing her career after the marriage and keeping her maiden name professionally. Her daughter - Julie Manet - was born in 1878 and became Morisot's favourite muse, and later her art student and painting companion. Morisot's first solo exhibition in 1892 was received with great acclaim, and, sadly, turned out to be her last, as she died three years later, at the age of 54, from pneumonia.
Although a modest character that did not crave fame and alluded controversy, Morisot, nonetheless, stayed firm to her loyalty and support of the Impressionists. To see her paintings exhibited with those of the Impressionists is to understand the ethereal nature of their friendship and to recognise the ambience so apparent in the paintings of Monet and Manet, as the result of a movement of lunch parties and picnics with the modest intelligentsia rather than the singular career of controversy and rebellion against the Salon.
With the focus of the exhibition on the feminine presence of Morisot, it makes apparent the delicacy of the other works and signifies the inspiration of graceful women and pretty children. Morisot's spirit inspired the famous ambience of the Impressionists, and for once, the muse is not so concealed in plays of light. For a moment, the gaze turns to Morisot, sitting gracefully in the background with a lightness of being that implicitly enriched the paintings of her friends, as light on the water. To see 'An Impressionist and her Circle' is to realise the feminine wholeness of the movement, men in the presence of women, and the place of human relationship in art. To see Impressionism without Berthe Morisot and the wider entourage of women and children is to see only an impression of an impression, unrefined by feminine charm.
Christiana SC Spens
Libeskind impacting Denver
Flying into Denver airport, the Rockies rise high in the distance, a constant reminder of the frontier context here, even today. Likewise, the apparently palisade-topped outline of Gio Ponti's 1972 Denver Art Museum (which contains an evocative Native American collection, appropriately) provides a reminder of, even in those far off times, an architect's urge to supply a signature building.
Steven Holl: America's Best Architect
The USA has lately found and recognised the real successor to Frank Gehry in a new generation. This is New York-based artist Steven Holl. It has been some while in coming, but with the opening in June 2007 of the Bloch Building, adjunct to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, Holl can be lionised as a result of this inescapably iconic piece of architecture that stands at the highest international level of acclaim.
Tales of two cities: Berlin, Dresden
These are stirring times for architecture 'watchers' in Germany's two famous cities; Berlin, the capital, and Dresden, culture capital of the south-east. The re-opening of the neo-Baroque and now restored Bode Museum in Berlin, sitting on its island and commanding like a prow the curve of the river Spree, required a restoration of well over
Sculptural Architecture in Austria
This masterly exhibition has been organised with the support of, and in co-operation with, the Federal Chancellery of Austria and the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China. It is the brainchild of the architect, Professor Hans Hollein, who curated it from Vienna in liaison with the Director of the National Art Museum of China, Beijing. It represents a long affair between Austria and China on cultural matters, and the Chinese authorities are to be complimented on their perspicacity and understanding for seeing it through. It follows an initial exhibition in Shanghai in 2001, covered by Studio International.