Intimate Settings and Public Spaces: Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Drawings and Prints
My art student daughter took me to see this show at the MFAH. Sixty-some works on paper by artists including Pierre Bonnard, Mary Cassatt, Jules Chéret, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Félix Emile-Jean Vallotton, and Édouard Vuillard.
Vuillard was a name that caught my eye as we strolled the galleries on our way to this show. He made a painting in 1910 or thereabouts that included the Van Gogh canvas “Bedroom at Arles,” in the scene. Considering that Van Gogh was hardly a prominent painter at that time, I figured that Vuillard must have been a friend, admirer or maybe a creditor. Ignorant louts like myself are more appreciative of artworks when they have some biographical information to help them connect to the artist, and I mean to learn something of this Vuillard.
I enjoyed this show, though nothing in it made me gasp out loud or made me forget the pleasure of seeing some favorites as I walked this wonderful museum. I enjoy visiting this “time machine,” seeing objects and images from other centuries or even millennia. These drawings, screen prints, etchings and lithographs made me think of all the oil paintings from earlier centuries made for or of wealthy princes, popes and bourgeoisie. I think it was in the 19th century when painters became like rock stars, with folks lining up to view the latest works. These works were more for mass consumption, made to be posters, magazine art, even advertisements.
Toulouse-Lautrec was well represented in this collection. I learned something from reading the notes. Seeing blank patches or uncolored areas I’ve thought that I was looking at unfinished works. I read that Toulouse-Lautrec, denizen of Paris bordellos, posed his subjects performing banal tasks to de-sexualize them, and gave his images an unfinished quality to de-romanticize the subject matter. He was down with the ‘working girls;’ not a glamorous life.
This show will be exhibited through January 17th, when they move in the 19th century French collection on loan from The National Gallery of Art in Washington. Another show that deserves a look is “Cosmopolitan Routes: Houston Collects Latin American Art.” I zipped through this one and would like to spend some more time on it. I was intrigued at the political content of some works, such as Colombian Miguel Angel Rohas’ work with coca leaves or dollar bills on paper. Seems that some Latin Americans aren’t thrilled by a century of Yankee imperialism. Who figured?