The Play Of Light: French And American Impressionism and Frank W. Benson

October 10, 2012
Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m.
Farnsworth Auditorium
This three-part lecture series will supply additional background information for the current exhibition Impressionist Summers: Frank W. Benson’s North Haven. The series will begin with an examination of the orgins of French Impressionism in mid-nineteenth-century Paris. The next lecture will be an overview of American Impressionism, illustrating its similarities and differences with the French. Lastly, Frank W. Benson’s entire career will be surveyed, with special attention paid to the periods when he was away from North Haven. This lecture series will take place in the Farnsworth auditorium.
Napoleon III almost completely dismantled Paris during the middle years of the nineteenth century, only to rebuild it as the first modern metropolis. Artists such as Monet, Pissarro, Renoir and Cezanne rushed to the emerging urban giant to depict the energy and confusion of the new social order. This lecture will focus on how Impressionism rose from Realism, and how artists had different—and at times contradictory—perspectives on this new way of painting. The younger artists who followed in the wake of these artistic advances, known as Post-Impressionists, will be briefly discussed: Van Gogh, Seurat, and Gaugin. 
Lecture by Director of Education Roger Dell.
Lecture 2 — What Is American About American Impressionism?
Wednesday, October 17, 5:30 p.m.

This illustrated lecture will examine the confluence of French and American Impressionism, particularly the phenomenon of American artists studying and working abroad. The French Impressionist movement had barely established itself before a number of Americans in France were strongly influenced by its freshness, its technique, and especially its emphasis on plein-air painting and non-traditional subject matter. The lecture will consider some of the many Americans who learned from their French counterparts, discussing both the similarities with French Impressionism and the differences, asking the question: what is American about American Impressionism?
Lecturer David Farmer was the founding director of the Dahesh Museum of Art in 2002 after a 40-year career as a museum curator and director, including work at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and the University Art Museum, Santa Barbara.
This lecture will examine the entirety of Frank W. Benson's distinguished career, with emphasis on his use of light, placing him in the front ranks of American Impressionists. Linked with Childe Hassam, John H. Twacthman and J. Alden Weir in The Ten American Painters, Benson helped enhance the popularity of the new style. This lecture will trace Benson's origins in Salem, MA, to his studies and later long teaching stint at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, his learning sojourn in France, and his glorious sun filled art on North Haven on view in the museum. Benson's affinities with Vermeer and Sargent in portraiture, with Winslow Homer in seascapes, and his long record of achievements in watercolor and etching, will also be explored.
Lecturer Stephen May is an independent historian, writer and lecturer on art and culture. He divides his time between Washington, DC and Union, ME.
Cost: Farnsworth members $30, nonmembers $39
To purchase individual lecture tickets please click on the specific lecture title.

Frank W. Benson, George and Betty in a Dory (Study for Calm Morning), 1904, Oil on canvas, 24 x 19 ¾ inches, Anonymous loan

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Price: $30.00
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