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Friday, April 14, 2017


Meticulously directed by Phil Grabsky and narrated by actress Gillian Anderson. (Review by Patrick Compton)

The latest Exhibition on Screen movie at Gateway, meticulously directed by Phil Grabsky and narrated by actress Gillian Anderson, focuses on the birth of American impressionism in the late 19th Century.

In 1886, the French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel brought a selection of his huge stock of French impressionist paintings to New York. It’s ironic that while the French impressionists battled to convince their own people about the worth of their movement, the United States fully embraced it.

This film documents how the (middle-class) “garden movement” – which brought a rustic relief for artists and people recoiling from their country’s industrial revolution – changed the course of American art.

The gardens became part of the urban reformers’ campaign to create public parks and gardens, patches of beauty among the gathering smokestacks.

The film begins by detailing the spiritual trek of American artists to places like Giverny – where Claude Monet lived – before going on to celebrate the work of American impressionists inspired by painters like him.

There is a gallery element to the film – the Florence Griswold Museum, located at the former boarding house in Connecticut where the artists congregated – which makes for an interesting context.

The work of Mary Cassatt, Theodore Robinson and Willard Metcalf may be relatively obscure compared to the likes of Renoir, Cezanne and Monet, but their beautiful paintings are not only a pleasure to behold, they also help to tell an interesting story about the growing pains of the United States in the years before the Great War.

The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism will be screened at Gateway on April 15, 19 and 20 at 19h30. The screening on April 16 is at 14h30. – Patrick Compton