Don't expect a grand pastiche of Impressionists when you walk through the three exhibits that comprise Passport to Paris -- while the Denver Art Museum's fall blockbuster does have its share of Impressionist works, that's only part of the exhibition suite's story, which deftly provides the narrative of three centuries of French art in a historical panorama.
See also: Passport to Paris, Denver Art Museum
The central exhibit, Court to Café: Three Centuries of French Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum, explores how art morphed through that tumultuous passage through changes in politics and society, from the powdered-wig formalism of the court to the revolution and beyond.
"Art responds and reacts to the times," explains Angelica Daneo, DAM associate curator of painting and sculpture. "Court to Café follows the major shifts, and shows how art mirrors what is happening at the time it's being made." Thus, the exhibit takes viewers through time, juxtaposing artworks with period furnishings and a soundscape of analogous musical compositions.
The second installation, Drawing Room: An Intimate Look at French Drawings from the Esmond Bradley Martin Collection, is an about-face from the broad swatch of Court to Café. Displayed in a darkened room, the show invites people to look closely and experience the directness of drawing -- as Daneo says, to "lose themselves in the art."
Lastly, Nature as Muse: Impressionist Landscapes from the Frederic C. Hamilton Collection and the Denver Art Museum, offers a fair dose of beloved impressionist painters, including a stunning room of atmospheric Monet works, mostly culled from Frederic Hamilton's private collection. In spite of his philanthropic gifts to the museum, "Hamilton rarely loans from his own collection," notes Museum director Christoph Heinrich, making the exhibit an infrequent chance to see these works.
Passport to Paris opens Sunday, October 27, and remains on view at the DAM through February 9, 2014; admission to the timed, ticketed exhibition ranges from $5 to $22 (children ages 5 and under admitted free). Information and reservations are available online or by calling 720-913-0130.
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