One of the shows that has left a lasting impression with me is "Édouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890-1940", which was at The Jewish Museum. Visiting this exhibition introduced me to Vuillard's life and work and resonated with so many artistic ideas and observations I'm currently considering. Vuillard's aesthetic speaks to me on many levels–I am most impressed by his boldness and inventiveness in composition, design, and color and his willingness to think and paint outside of the box. He was both experimental and deeply committed to the Old Masters throughout his career, resulting in that magical tension between tradition and Modernism.
|Lucy Hessel Reading
by Edouard Vuillard,
1913, oil painting, 39 7/16 x 32 5/8.
|Misia and Vallotton at Villeneuve
by Edouard Vuillard,
1899, oil painting, 28 3/8 x 20 7/8.
As I went through the exhibition room to room, closely studying the artist's work and noticing the changes in style and subject matter at various points in his life, what struck me was Vuillard's consistent intelligence and deliberate nature as an artist, as well as his ability to capture unusual vantage points with his unconventional use of linear perspective and his attention to the picture plane. His decorative effects inspired by Art Nouveau and Japanese prints add an element of design that are at times whimsical but never to the point of overpowering the painterly aspects or structural foundation of the piece. What also intrigues me about this artist is the fact that he was living and working in Paris during that enchanting, theatrical time just before the rise of avant-garde poetry and painting, and he was instrumental in sparking a new aesthetic that served as a precursor to Modernism.
|Lucy Hessel at the Seashore by Edouard Vuillard,
1904, oil painting on hardboard, 8½ x 8½.
While at the exhibition, I ran into the artist Dan Gheno, a longtime contributor to American Artist (he has written for Drawing magazine for years). We talked about Vuillard's unusual viewpoints, decorative patterning, emotive color, and what a timely artist he is to reconsider amid the current art landscape.