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Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter's Eye (英語) ハードカバー – 2015/6/22
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Though largely out of the public eye for more than a century, Gustave Caillebotte (1848 94) has come to be recognized as one of the most dynamic and original artists of the impressionist movement in Paris. His paintings are favorites of museum-goers, and recent restoration of his work has revealed more color, texture, and detail than was visible before while heightening interest in all of Caillebotte s artwork. This lush companion volume to the National Gallery of Art s major new exhibition, coorganized with the Kimbell Art Museum, explores the power and technical brilliance of his oeuvre.
The book features fifty of Caillebotte s strongest paintings, including post-conservation images of "Paris Street; Rainy Day, "along with "The Floorscrapers" and "Pont de l Europe," all of which date from a particularly fertile period between 1875 and 1882. The artist was criticized at the time for being too realistic and not impressionistic enough, but he was a pioneer in adopting the angled perspective of a modern camera to compose his scenes. Caillebotte s skill and originality are evident even in the book s reproductions, and the essays offer critical insights into his inspiration and subjects.
This sumptuously illustrated publication makes clear why Caillebotte is among the most intriguing artists of nineteenth-century France, and it deepens our understanding of the history of impressionism."
Mary Morton is curator and head of the Department of French Paintings at the National Gallery of Art. George Shackelford is senior deputy director at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.
The exhibition is curated and the catalogue edited by Mary Morton, head of the department of French painting at the National Gallery and George T. M. Shackelford, deputy director of the Kimbell. Their introduction points out some of the reasons why Caillebotte was so late to achieve the recognition that the other Impressionist painters enjoyed from the beginning. Chief among these is that since he did not need to earn money by selling his paintings, the vast majority of them were retained by the family after his death and still remain in private hands. (Even the Musée d’Orsay, which owns more of them than any other institution, has only four, compared to the dozens it has of each of his fellow Impressionists.) Combined with one part of the appended apparatus, an essay on his posthumous reputation from 1894 to 1994, there is some interesting observation on how an artistic reputation comes to be forged through strategic gallery sales, curatorial decisions, and other half-artistic/half-commercial factors. There are seven scholarly essays by academic and curatorial authorities, all clearly written and easily accessible. Some of the topics addressed are the artist’s “Deep Focus,” i.e., the extraordinary depth in some of his well-known paintings like “The Pont de l’Europe” (1876) and “Paris Street. Rainy Day” (1877), which the writer suggests is comparable to some early cinematic techniques; the surprisingly favorable way in which Caillebotte was viewed by much of the contemporary criticism, especially in comparison to the other painters; his interest in the furnishings of the bourgeois Parisian apartment as an indicator of social and interpersonal dysfunction; his rootedness in the realist tradition as transmitted to him through his teacher, Léon Bonnat (this is actually a short essay on Bonnat by the Orsay’s curator Stéphane Guégan); and the relationship of his paintings to contemporary photographic practice and techniques. In “Man in the Middle,” Dr. Shackelford himself makes a compelling argument that Caillebotte is best understood as occupying a middle ground between the two factions of Impressionism, i.e., between the painters of urban themes and modern life (like Degas) and the artists of atmosphere, landscape and light (Monet), and that his artistic evolution was from the former to the latter—unfortunately, as the writer concedes that Caillebotte was not a particularly inspired landscape painter and that in the second half of his short career, i.e., from the mid-1880’s to his early death in 1894, he made some fine paintings but “many more that are frankly rather ordinary” (16).
The book itself is handsomely designed with an uncluttered layout and easily legible print, and it is profusely illustrated. The fifty-seven exhibition items are all reproduced full-page in the catalogue section, which is divided into several thematic areas (“View from the Window,” “Urban Interior,” “Observing the Nude,” etc.), each of which is introduced by a few pages of focussed discussion. The paintings are not individually commented on, but they all receive mention of some sort in the essays, which themselves have copious supportive illustrations including more of the artist’s paintings and some beautifully evocative photographs, some of these also printed full-page. The jacket text says there are 177 illustrations in all. One distinctive feature is the great number of detail studies, including over twenty-five full-bled pages, although I must say that it was not always clear to me why a particular detail was chosen for enlargement. Additional apparatus consists of a nicely illustrated “biographical chronology,” a good selected bibliography, an exhibition checklist with the requisite curatorial data, and an index of names and titles. There have not been very many Caillebotte exhibitions, which may be just as well; in their Introduction, the curators concede that out of a known oeuvre of around 500 paintings “only a fraction warrant the attention of a major exhibition” (16). But like the little girl with the little curl, when he was good, he was very, very good, and he is certainly very good in this exhibition and catalogue of his earlier work. Very warmly recommended to those interested in this period of French painting.