The new exhibition “Monet to Matisse,” now on view at the Wichita Art Museum, is lovely. On loan from the Brooklyn Museum, the show features 59 works from the French Moderns dating from 1850 through 1950.
WAM says the exhibition features “59 masterworks,” though I would argue the exhibition features 59 important works done by approximately 40 masters. While the works are all capital and certainly gorgeous, most, especially in the case of Matisse, Soutine, Derain, and Degas, are not “masterworks.” And while the lighting of the show is low and intimate, I noticed it created some problems involving shadows over the tops of some paintings.
The exhibition of paintings and sculpture is divided into landscapes, still life, portraits and figures, and the nude. The styles of the period range from the more formal portraiture of Berthe Morisot to the spontaneous and seemingly impetuous work of André Derain and Raoul Dufy, who were members of the Fauves (a French term for “wild beasts”)—who were the real avant-garde of the day.
This is a show for choosing favorites and breeding impassioned discussions -- and it’s a great treat.
The exhibition is on view through May 20.