Infinitely Curious

Seeking a Renaissance in San Francisco

Birth of Impressionism

“Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat, 1884-1886,

The de Young museum in San Francisco has a once in a lifetime exhibit that opened this past Saturday, May 22, and runs through September 6 (tickets can be purchased here).  The exhibit showcases paintings from nearly 40 artists from the late 19th century art movements: Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.  The paintings at the de Young are actually originals from the Musée d’Orsay in France.  An interesting tidbit about the Musée d’Orsay, is that the museum is built inside an old train station!  The building is currently being renovated, so all the relics are being sent to museums abroad to house them until the Musée d’Orsay is restored.  It’ll definitely be a treat for San Franciscans – it’s not everyday you get to see originals of artists like Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, and Van Gogh.

It’ll be exciting to revisit some some of my childhood memories of art at the de Young exhibit – I grew up taking pastel lessons in Houston for a good part of my childhood.  My teacher, Ms. Betsy, made a huge impression on me early on, exposing her students to all sorts of artistic styles and urging us to pick up techniques to incorporate into our own work.  She raved about Seurat’s pointillism techniques, Monet’s use of linear strokes, and Cassatt’s curious use of Red in her paintings.  Ms. Betsy used to have cutouts and pages from art textbooks and magazines for us to use as inspiration.  I still remember being 8 or 9 and first being exposed to Impressionist Art.  I didn’t know it at the time of course, but the Era was a very controversial.  During the 1800s, Realism was dominating the art world, portraying mainly religious scenes.  Impressionism caused quite the stir with its nude paintings,  raw portrayals of life, and taking the painter to the scene, rather than working from a studio.

Betsy Miller currently runs the Colors of the Heart Studio in Houston and is a spectacular person, teacher, and artist.  You can find out more about her here:  Of the millions of cutouts Ms. Betsy showed, us, here are a few pieces that really stuck with me as favorites:

“Stage Rehearsal” by Edgar Degas, 1878–1879

“The Floor Scrapers” by Gustave Caillebotte, 1875

“Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1876

“Water Lilies” by Claude Monet, 1916,

Detail from “Circus Sideshow” by Georges Seurat, 1889

“The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh, 1889

“Self Portrait” by Vincent Van Gogh, 1887


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This entry was posted on May 23, 2010 by in de Young Museum, Fine Arts, Impressionist Art, Painting, San Francisco.

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