with Senior Curator, Patrick Shaw Cable, Ph.D.
In fall 2014 the El Paso Museum of Art presents Renoir to Remington: Impressionism to the American West, the first comprehensive exhibition investigating the impact of French Impressionism on the direction of art of the American West and Southwest. Bringing together over one hundred works, the exhibition juxtaposes French Impressionist, pre-Impressionist, and related works from the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington state with Western American examples from the El Paso Museum of Art, the collection of Jack and Carroll Maxon, and four other local collections. Renoir to Remington includes artists such as Frederic Remington who pictured diverse regions of the American West, but the primary focus is Southwestern artists working through the course of the twentieth century. Exploring how many artists of the American Southwest have responded to Impressionism, the exhibition outlines the multiple forms and degrees of Impressionist influence on these artists as they sought and found the means to translate the distinct atmosphere, light, and color of the Southwest’s unique landscape, life, and culture.
Artists represented from Tacoma include the French Impressionist masters Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Edgar Degas; leading pre-Impressionists Eugène Boudin, Camille Corot, and Johan Barthold Jongkind; and American Impressionists like John Singer Sargent and Ernest Lawson. Southwest works include pictures by the early masters Julian Onderdonk and his father, Robert Jenkins Onderdonk, along with later practitioners such as Fremont Ellis and the celebrated “Texas bluebonnet painter” Porfirio Salinas. Two notable groups represented include several members of the Taos Society of Artists founded in 1915, and many early and later El Paso area artists, including Elmer L. Boone, Fern and Eugene Thurston, Earline Barnes, and Tom Lea.
As the works in the exhibition reveal, some Southwest painters embrace both the high-keyed palette and broad sketchy brushwork of classic Impressionism, while others combine a more finished style with the brighter colors initiated by the Impressionists. Still others investigate Impressionism alongside other approaches, or move toward styles that evolved from or responded to Impressionism, such as Neo-Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. The exhibition includes sculptural comparisons between the dancers of Degas and the cowboys and horses of sculptors like Harry Jackson. Inspired by the light, atmosphere, and action of the Southwest, the artists of this region discovered in Impressionism diverse elements of color, handling, and naturalism that aided them in their desire to represent the special light, atmosphere, landscape, and figures of the Southwest. Ultimately, Renoir to Remington enriches our understanding of Southwestern art by situating it within a broader context, and brings new relief to the lasting appeal and influence of the revolutionary movement Impressionism.
Free and open to the public. Space is limited to the first 40 people and is on a first-come, first-served basis. Please arrive early.