There are many wonderful exhibitions happening in New York
City this summer, and one of the shows that has left a lasting impression with
me is "Édouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890-1940" 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.
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
has written for Drawing
years). We talked about Vuillard's unusual viewpoints, decorative patterning,
emotive color, and what a timely artist he is to reconsider amid the current
"Édouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890-1940" runs
through September 23 at the Jewish Museum. If you're in New York City this
summer, be sure to check it out. And let me know how much time you spend at the
show--I think this exhibition takes the record for me: I clocked close to two
Allison Malafronte is
the senior editor of American Artist.
*A full-length article
on Édouard Vuillard will be featured in the November issue of American
Artist, on sale September 25, 2012.