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Dance Insider & Arts Voyager editor and publisher Paul Ben-Itzak, who has also written for Reuters, the New York Times, and many others and also publishes the Art Investment News, is looking for work in France, where he lived and worked for 10 years. He is ready to include his magazines in any deal. Interested parties can e-mail Paul.


Arts Voyager Gallery, 5-4: Line Dancing
Impressionist Drawings & Prints at the Frick Revise Impressions of Major Artists

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), "Boulevard de Rochechouart," 1880. Pastel on beige wove paper, 23 9/16 x 28 15/16 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1996.5.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

The true delight of exhibitions like The Impressionist Line from Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec: Drawings and Prints from the Clark, 58 drawings and prints on view at the Frick in New York through June 16, is that one gets to see work by the masters less frequently exposed than their oil paintings which expands and in some cases even revises our appreciation of their virtues. While I could sit in front of Camille Pissarro's "Boulevard Montmartre on a Winter Morning" at the Metropolitan Museum and never tire of analyzing its minutiae, discovering his vaporous "Boulevard de Rochechouart, 1880," a pastel on wove paper, is a revelation. The usual Pissarro street view -- from a window above (the painter lived nearby for a time, on the rue des Trois Freres, later immortalized by Amelie Poulain) -- is there, but this is the first Pissarro study I've seen of this central Montmartre thoroughfare, a passage essential to the Impressionists. Pissarro was the quintessential experimenter in a school of experimenters, always open to trying a new technique, and here he lets the medium lead him, evoking the sky with broad slanted strokes, and letting blue take charge, to create a picture that is as spectrally irreal as it is compositionally accurate.

I've never understood why prints typically fetch less than oils at auction, because the former offer such an extraordinary opportunity to see the artist in raw action. Focusing on prints and drawings also affords an opportunity to feature a variety of surfaces and plains which affect the texture of the matter. Paul Gaugin's "Joys of Brittany" was part of the 'Volpini Suite,' named after the proprietor of the Café des Arts, where Gaugin and friends held a show to counter the official show for the 1889 Exposition Universelle at the Palais des Beaux-Arts. Gaugin applied crayon and tusch wash with a brush to a grained zinc plate, and then printed it on commercially produced canary yellow paper as opposed to the hand-made material typically used by artists of the epoch. If such examples can amplify our appreciation of a Gaugin, in the case of Berthe Morisot, the work on view here can go further and revise the popular understanding of an artist who has often been reduced to the role of 'the female Impressionist' by critics who are blinded by her frequent domestic subjects, typically describing her work as being 'feminine,' 'soft,' and 'gentle,' missing the complexity of the color tactics she applies to those paintings. Morisot's 1875 "Before a Yacht," an 8 1/8 x 10 9/16 inch watercolor over graphite on cream wove paper, highlights how she often worked with a minimal number of colors (here, green, black, and brown), using gradation to give the illusion of a full spectrum -- which makes for a much more unified canvas than a broader palette might.

Additional commentary and background in the captions below.


Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), "Before a Yacht," 1875. Watercolor over graphite on cream wove paper, 8 1/8 x 10 9/16 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.1964.


Claude Monet (1840-1926), "The Port at Touques," c. 1864. Black chalk on blued white laid paper. 8 x 13 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 2006.5. The Frick exhibition is also like an archeological quest, revealing early work by major Impressionists like Monet and Degas.


Left: Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898), "Study of a Woman’s Head," c. 1865. Graphite with stumping on beige wove paper, 6 7/8 x 5 5/16 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.1716. Right: Edgar Degas (1834-1917), "After the Bath," c. 1891-92. Charcoal with stumping on beige wove paper, 14 x 9 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.1408.


Edgar Degas (1834-1917), "Three Ballet Dancers," c. 1878-80. Monotype on cream laid paper, 14 x 20 3/16 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.1386.


Left: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), "Mademoiselle Marcelle Lender, Bust-Length," 1895. Lithograph printed in brown-green, yellow, red, dark pink, green, blue, gray, and yellow-green on cream wove paper/ 19 9/16 x 14 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.1442. Right: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), "The Seated Clowness (Miss Cha-U-Kao)," from Elles, 1896. Lithograph printed in green-black, black-brown, yellow, red, and blue on cream wove paper, 20 11/16 x 15 13/16 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1962.108. A performer at the Moulin Rouge, Miss Cha-U-Kao's name is a word play on "chaotic Can-Can."


Honoré Daumier (1808-1879), "The Drinkers," c. 1860. Watercolor, pen and ink, and charcoal on cream laid paper. 9 7/16 x 10 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.1504.


Edouard Manet (1832-1883), "Execution of Maximilian," 1868, printed 1884. Lithograph on white chine-collé on white wove paper 20 x 26 5/8 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Acquired in memory of Rafael Fernandez (Curator of Prints and Drawings, 1975-1994), with contributions from his friends, colleagues, and students, 2000.4.


Left: Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), "Alms from a Beggar at Ornans," 1868. Graphite with stumping, squared, with touches of crayon on cream wove paper 11 5/16 x 8 11/16 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.1846. Right: Edouard Manet (1832-1883), "The Toilette," 1862. Etching and open-bite printed in brown-black on cream laid paper, 20 9/16 x 13 7/8 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1962.80.


Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), "Joys of Brittany," from the Volpini Suite, 1889. Zincograph on yellow wove paper. Image: 7 15/16 x 9 inches. Sheet: 17 x 21 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1962.58.


Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), "The Bathers: Large Plate," 1898. Lithograph printed in black, green, yellow-green, orange, gray, blue, and purple-blue on cream laid paper, 19 x 24 13/16 inches. Copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1962.26. "The Bathers" was the final major subject of the last several years of Cézanne's life, a theme whose possibilities are amplified by the lithograph medium.


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