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The French Connection

Three Hundred Years of Glorious Art

James Jacques Joseph Tissot, The Fan, about 1875. Oil on canvas; 15-1/8 x 20-1/8 in. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art; The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund.

James Jacques Joseph Tissot, The Fan, about 1875. Oil on canvas; 15-1/8 x 20-1/8 in. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art; The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund.

From October 27, 2013-February 9, 2014, the museum’s Passport to Paris exhibition will take visitors on a Parisian voyage through 300 years of art history. Along the way, a full schedule of special events, lectures and fun activities will intersect with the exhibition.

Most exciting, the Colorado Symphony will explore connections between French art and music with activities and musical performances. This inspired pairing with the DAM will combine music and art in the galleries, as well as three Masterworks programs in Boettcher Concert Hall that celebrate French impressionist composers and musicians.

“This was a time when Paris became the artistic center of Europe and the leading capital for taste, culture and fashion,” says Angelica Daneo, associate curator of painting and sculpture at the DAM.

Passport to Paris is presented in three distinct exhibitions depicting art from the late 1600s to early 1900s:

“Court to Café: Three Centuries of French Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum” (the oldest public art museum in the United States, in Hartford Connecticut) includes 50 masterpiece paintings in four themed sections of the galleries. Period costumes from the Los Angeles County Art Museum and decorations and furniture from the DAM will create a total context for the paintings. It will be the first time that works by such masters as Poussin, Boucher, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, and Toulouse-Lautrec have been shown together as a group.

“Nature as Muse: French Impressionist Landscapes” displays 36 stunning works from a Colorado collector and the DAM’s holdings. Impressionism (1870-1920), in which the aim of the artist was to capture the momentary “impression” made by the subject, was a radical departure from the accepted rules of realism. Artists were freed from the confines of their studios to create en plein air and pursue the fickle and fleeting quality of light.

In “Drawing Room: An Intimate Look at French Drawings from the Esmond Bradley Martin Collection,” approximately 39 works-on-paper show an intimate range of techniques from ink and pencil sketches to finished pastels.

Music of the Masters

Impressionism wasn’t just about visual art, but also about music. The period represented in Passport to Paris was a time when the noteworthy artists and composers, whose work we now know as Masters, were alive and working at the same time.

The influence of the Impressionist movement had a transforming effect on composers of the time. Led by Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, considered to be the “great” Impressionists, they moved away from the epic and emotional themes of the Romantic Period to more pastoral works.

The Colorado Symphony will celebrate the music of the great composers and musicians whose works reflected the French aesthetic, both in the museum and the concert hall.

Every Saturday at 1:00 p.m. between November 2 and February 9, various ensembles of symphony musicians will play at the DAM with a series of performances that span the canon of classical French music.

The Colorado Symphony will further celebrate the exhibition’s theme in its 2013/14 season with three concerts that will be accompanied by digital images of Impressionist masterpieces projected during the programs—November 1-3, Passport to Paris; November 22-24, in which concertgoers can revel in an all-Ravel program with Andrew Litton in Concert, and finally, Return to Paris, January 17-19. 

The museum’s collaboration with the Colorado Symphony is the second time the two have worked together since the wildly successful Becoming Van Gogh exhibition.

Paris in the time of great art is a lushly conceived feast for the senses. It will brighten the months when we most need the light. And you don’t even need to pack.