I want to tell you about the great time I had yesterday visiting two exhibitions on German Impressionism at Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) open through December 5. Did you notice, I said not one, but two exhibitions?
-"A Variation of Impressionism" German Impressionist Landscape Painting: Liebermann—Corinth—Slevogt
-"Drawing from Nature: Landscapes by Liebermann, Corinth, and Slevogt"
They are actually across a great hall from each other in rooms on the 2nd floor of the Beck Building in case you’re planning to go.
As you may have read in my blog, I always like learning new things about art. I knew nothing about German Impressionism or even that there was German Impressionism. I knew about French, of course, and something about American, but about the German, I knew nothing. Unless you’ve studied art history, you probably didn't either.
The MFAH did a great job in my opinion. They painted the walls of the exhibit rooms a celadon green, which sounds bad, I know, but it really made all those paintings pop. They also gave you just enough information printed in large type on the walls as you entered each room so that you get a context and some history for what you are about to view.
The stars of the show are, of course, the paintings of Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth, and Max Slevogt (I guess Max was a popular name back then). As I said, I had never heard of any of these painters.
My tendency as I began viewing the paintings was to compare them to the famous French Impressionist paintings with which I was familiar. Somewhere after viewing the 20th painting or so (out of maybe 150 although I didn’t count) I stopped comparing them because it was obvious these paintings can stand on their own merit and style.
I learned that Liebermann, Corinth, and Slevogt were contemporaries in Germany in the late 1800s up until the 1920s. From the dates of the paintings in the exhibition, it appears these artists' main work came after the French Impressionists had paved the way for Impressionism.
From my point of view, the German's earlier work generally used a darker palette than the French but as time passed they appeared to lighten up. The motifs are mostly landscapes in the Netherlands and around cities, lakes, and mountains (Alps) in Germany.
I liked the work of Lovis Corinth the best. To me he had the most impressionistic style. I especially liked his painting, Walchensee Mit Larch (Lake Walchen with Larch Tree). It was eye-catching from far across the room with its palette of French Ultramarine blue, Violet, and Teal green.
If you want to learn more, you may “Google:” MFAH, German Impressionism and/or the names of these three painters. If this traveling exhibition comes to an art museum near you, don’t miss it.
Until next blog…