(Fathom Events Website)
Exhibition On Screen
Written and Directed by Phil Grabsky
The Impressionists – And the Man Who Made Them
(Film Web Page)
In Collaboration with the Touring Exhibit at
Musée du Luxembourg & Musée d'Orsay Paris,
National Gallery London, and Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AMC Empire 25
(Movie Theatre Website)
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 14, 2015
Fathom Events has just presented the 2014 documentary, written and directed by Phil Grabsky, “The Impressionists — And the Man Who Made Them”. It showcases the heroics of the late, 19th century art dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel. Durand-Ruel’s great-grandchildren and current Parisian, British, and Philadelphia art curators are heard in this film’s narration, during the autumn 2014, Paris installation of the collaborative, museum exhibit, by the same title. This museum exhibit was also seen in London this past spring, and is currently on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through September 13. Like all “Exhibition On Screen” presentations, one can experience the synthesis of the exhibit from the comfort of a movie theatre. There is no substitute for first-hand art exploration, but, in New York, there’s no shortage of Impressionist art, in museums and galleries, and this documentary gives the audience in-depth insight into the plight of the “radical”, French, 19th century painters, with Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Sisley, Pissarro, and Degas among the artists in focus.
The audience sees rare close-ups of brushwork, as well as actual landscape scenes and portraits being represented, and the history of the 19th century art Salons is examined for the strict guidelines of the judges, as well as the keen disappointment of the rejected contributors. The Salon’s art critics, and dealers on shopping trips, wanted the more formal, traditional, and realistic paintings of yore. The French Academy of Fine Art jurors found the new style to be coarse and garish. But, one dealer, Durand-Ruel, bought up a gallery’s worth of the paintings to help the new Impressionist movement flourish. He also targeted newly, wealthy American families, those who might be bold and impetuous, and found, in frequent trips abroad, homes and galleries across the United States for his recently purchased art. Durand-Ruel often risked bankruptcy to keep his mission alive. The magnanimous Durand-Ruel expanded the opportunities for these art sales by personally funding exhibitions of the Impressionists’ works, in New York, London, and beyond.
This documentary not only explores the artists and their works, all of which are included in the touring museum exhibition, but the audience is also treated to French, 19th century, piano background music, for an immersive effect. With an academic turn, passages of the film show the meticulous, handwritten notes in Durand-Ruel’s actual ledger, with the cost of each painting he purchased, its sale price, and to whom. There are even narrations of Durand-Ruel’s diary. When one considers the current auction prices being fetched at Christie’s and Sotheby’s these days for a Monet or Renoir, it’s inconceivable that at the time the paintings were created, it was such a hardship for the artist to survive. Thanks to Paul Durand-Ruel, many in the band of “radical” Impressionists, and later the Post-Impressionists, enjoyed the fruits of their labor. You can read about Paul Durand-Ruel here.
Courtesy of Fathom Events