Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Modern Art Club: Avant Garde Collectors in Le Havre

One of the pleasures of viewing art in Paris is visiting one or more of the smaller, private museums that mount specialty exhibitions. The Musée du Luxembourg, 19, rue de Vaugirad is always worth a look to see what is on offer. The new fall show focuses on the work of impressionists in and around Le Havre. Works on display by Boudin, Monet, Sisley, Jongkind, Pissarro and Corot include seascapes, landscapes and studies of clouds and light. Why this density of artistic output around Le Havre? Le Havre in the late-19th and early-20th centuries held great appeal for artists. Its busy port offered plenty of activity and visual stimulation. Tall-masted ships sailed in and out. The nearby estuary offered the kind of light and colors of interest to painters, especially Impressionists. Not insignificantly, Le Havre also had a wealth of cotton importers and businessmean willing and able to pay for art (“No cotton, no paintings,” local artist Eugène Boudin is reputed to have said). Thus, this critical mass of artists and patrons turned a provincial port city into an unlikely hotbed of modern art before and after the turn of the 20th century. Le Havre is home to an excellent Impressionist and Modern Art museum but until January 6 you can see this show of its treasures in Paris at the Musée du Luxembourg. Open daily. 11 Euros.

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