Dallas Museum of Art Celebrates 150th anniversary of first Impressionist exhibition

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) makes a radical reintroduction to French Impressionism through the exhibition “The Impressionist Revolution from Monet to Matisse,” Featuring nearly 100 works created between 1870 and 1925 that illustrate the origins of the movement and its considerable impact on two successive generations of avant-garde painters, the presentation marks the 150-year anniversary of the first Impressionist exhibition.

While seemingly tame by contemporary standards, “The Impressionist Revolution from Monet to Matisse” reminds and reframes one of art history’s best-known movements by foregrounding its rebellious origin story and the long legacy it left on the development of European modernism.

The exhibition, which opens on February 11, 2024, and remains on view through November 3, 2024, draws extensively from the DMA’s extraordinary holdings, including masterworks by Mary Cassatt, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian and more.   

“At the DMA, we present thought-provoking exhibitions that allow our visitors to make new discoveries about even the most familiar-seeming subjects,” Agustín Arteaga, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, said. “We are especially proud to illustrate this key story of Impressionism’s origins, as well as its considerable impact on the artwork that followed, almost entirely with works from the DMA’s outstanding collection.” 

Origins of First Impressionist Exhibition

In 19th-century France, the Salon exhibition organized and juried by the state-run Academy of Fine Arts was the only non-commercial venue where living artists could publicly exhibit their work. Artists working outside the Academic tradition, which favored subjects drawn from history or literature and polished brushwork, were frequently rejected and left with no other avenues to garner critical and professional success.

Pushing against this official system was the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers, etc., a collective of artists we now call the Impressionists. They banded together in 1874 to mount the first of what would become eight independent exhibitions over the course of 12 years, an act that was as rebellious as it was entrepreneurial.  

“While the Impressionists are well known and widely popular today, many people will be surprised to learn that there was little appreciation or market for their work until well after their last group show in 1886,” exhibition curator Nicole Myers, the DMA’s Chief Curatorial and Research Officer, said. “Breaking with tradition in both how and what they painted, as well as how they showed their work, the Impressionists redefined what constituted cutting-edge contemporary art at great personal and financial risk. The Impressionist Revolution invites you to reconsider these now beloved artists as the scandalous renegades they were and the considerable impact they made on 20th-century art.” 

Dallas Museum of Art Impressionism Exhibition

“The Impressionist Revolution from Monet to Matisse” takes the revolutionary exhibition of 1874 as its starting point, tracing a 40-year journey through the movement and the legacy it left for the painters who followed. Drawn primarily from the DMA’s extensive holdings, the works in the exhibition spotlight a range of these avant-garde artists and illustrate the experimental techniques and subjects that set a new course for modern art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The exhibition is organized into six thematic sections including: “Rebels with a Cause,” which details the beginnings and key players of the Impressionist movement; “Making It Modern,” which examines Impressionist depictions of life in a rapidly modernizing world; “Field Notes,” which explores the Impressionists’ radical approach to painting techniques and materials; “Weird Science,” which showcases the invention of Chromo-Luminarism, known today as Pointillism, which pushed Impressionism to its scientific ends; “Side Effects,” which explores the backlash against Impressionism’s main tenets by a younger generation of artists who prioritized emotions, ideas and personal expression over purely optical impressions; and “Ever After,” which traces the far-reaching influence of Impressionism into the 20th century, offering a glimpse into some of the bold and innovative movements it inspired.  

About the Dallas Museum of Art 

Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is among the 10 largest art museums in the country. With a free general admission policy and community outreach efforts, the DMA is distinguished by its commitment to research, innovation and public engagement.

At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses 25,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the nation’s largest arts district, the Museum acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events and dramatic and dance presentations.

The DMA is an Open Access institution, allowing all works believed to be in the public domain to be freely available for downloading, sharing, repurposing and remixing without restriction. For more information, visit dma.org

Free General Admission to the Dallas Museum of Art is made possible with generous support from the Robert Gerard Pollock Foundation. The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Members and donors, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture. 

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