Tuesday, 20 November 2007

In Defence of Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte - Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877)ArtDaily recently posted an item on The Art Institute of Chicago’s loan of about 90 paintings from its extensive Impressionist collection to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, next summer. One of the paintings on loan will be Gustave Caillebotte's Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877). Why lump Caillebotte in with the Impressionists, you might wonder? He arranged their exhibitions, showed his own paintings with theirs, collected their works and tried his hand at impressionistic painting, example Voiliers à Argenteuil (1883). But his finest work makes no concession to this new fad and puts most of it to shame. His anti-heroic realism captures ordinary scenes in detail; his dramatic use of perspective is masterly. And look at how he plays around with the Golden Section in this painting, using a lamppost to divide a cityscape into two vistas. To me, his art is far more interesting than that of the Impressionists he supported so generously.


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