As Europe recoiled against the work of Monet, Degas and Renoir, Americans embraced it and created their own style of impressionism.
Following the success of the previous seasons of Exhibition on Screen productions at Ster-Kinekor’s Nouveau cinemas, the fourth season is currently underway. The second docu-film is a fascinating look at the Impressionist movement from an American perspective, and is titled The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism.
The film, which releases at Nouveau cinemas on Saturday, 15 April for limited screenings, is directed by Phil Grabsky and narrated by actress Gillian Anderson.
Taking its lead from French artists such as Renoir and Monet, the American impressionist movement followed its own path, which over a 40-year period reveals as much about America as a nation as it does about a much-loved artistic movement. It’s a story closely tied to a love of gardens and a desire to preserve nature in a rapidly urbanising nation. Travelling to studios, gardens and iconic locations throughout the United States, the UK and France, this mesmerising film is a visual feast.
In 1886, the French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel brought a selection of his huge stock of impressionist paintings to New York, changing the course of art in America forever. American artists flocked to the French village of Giverny, home to the master impressionist Claude Monet, and cheered the French new wave: painting outdoors with a new found brilliance and vitality. As Europe recoiled against the work of Monet, Degas and Renoir, Americans embraced it and created their own style of impressionism.
The timing of Durand-Ruel’s transformative visit was perfect. As America steamed into the Industrial Age, urban reformers fought to create public parks and gardens: patches of beauty amid smokestacks and ash heaps. These gardens provided unlimited inspiration for artists and a never-ending oasis for the growing middle class, made up of increasingly independent women, who relished the writings of English horticulturalists Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson. Meanwhile, the rise of wide-circulation magazines cultivated the idea that gardening was a path to spiritual renewal amid industrial blight and the belief that artists should work in native landscapes.
As America made its epic move from a nation of farmers to a land of factories, the pioneering American Impressionists crafted a sumptuous visual language that told the story of an era.
The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism features the sell-out exhibition The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887–1920 that began at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia – the birthplace of the American garden movement, and ended at the Florence Griswold Museum in Connecticut, widely considered the home of American impressionism.
With Exhibition on Screen, award-winning arts documentary maker Phil Grabsky & Seventh Art Productions are again set to delight art lovers in more than 40 countries, including South Africa.
The next two productions in the current season include: The Curious World of Hieronymus Bosch on 06 May; and Michelangelo: Love and Death from 17 June. These films take cinema audiences behind the scenes to discover what lies behind the artists and their paintings, both creatively and technically. What each artwork reveals about the artist and the particular historical period is also uncovered.
Filmed exclusively for cinema at the exhibitions and on location, this ground-breaking series allows art lovers worldwide to enjoy, marvel at and delight in the amazing works of some of history’s most foremost painters on the big screen and in stunning high definition.
The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism releases on Saturday, 15 April for four screenings only: 15, 19 and 20 April at 19:30, and on 16 April at 14:30 – at Rosebank Nouveau in Johannesburg, Brooklyn Nouveau in Pretoria, Ster-Kinekor Gateway Nouveau in Durban and at V&A Nouveau in Cape Town. Bookings are now open, and the running time of this production is 100 minutes.
For booking information, visit www.sterkinekor.com. Download the Ster-Kinekor App on your smart phone for updates, news and to book. Follow Nouveau on Twitter @nouveaubuzz and on Facebook at Cinema Nouveau. For more information, call Ticketline on 0861 Movies (668 437).