Telfair shows Monet and impressionists
Written by Emilie Kefalas and Shelby Loebker
Photo courtesy of the Telfair Museum
Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926)
Champ d’avoine (Oat Field), 1890
Oil on canvas, 26 x 36 7/16 inches
Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida
Gift of Michael A. Singer
The “Monet and American Impression” exhibit — running at the Telfair Museum’s Jepson Center for the Arts through Jan. 24 — provides a unique opportunity for visitors and SCAD students to view the work of Claude Monet alongside that of other artists in the impressionist movement. The exhibition contains four panels by Monet paired with works by more than 20 American impressionist painters.
“It makes the point that Monet was hugely influential to this whole generation of American artists,” Curator of fine arts and exhibitions at the Telfair Museum Courtney McNeil said. She went on to say Monet’s art was not only influential among his contemporaries, but continues to have significance today.
According to McNeil, the museum’s education department focused on developing innovative methods of presenting the pieces within the exhibit to a variety of audiences. A portion of that audience includes Chatham County fourth graders who visit and tour the exhibit in small groups twice a day with a volunteer docent. She mentioned being pleased with the exhibit’s turnout thus far, with about 400 people coming through each day. The museum has already hosted several SCAD classes with art history and museum studies professors making use of everything the exhibit has to offer. “I think it’s a great learning opportunity for everyone from the youngest school kid to graduate students,” McNeil said.
The exhibit is organized into five sections based on subject matter. Four are dedicated to paintings, each complete with a Monet piece, categorized into “The Allure of Giverny,” “A Country Retreat,” “The Vibrance of Urbanism” and “The Comfort of Home.”
“[The American artists] were inspired specifically by some of Monet’s stylistic approaches, some of his subject matter, often times they were painting very similar motifs” McNeil said, explaining the breakdown. “It’s nice because the subject matter taken on by Monet and by many of these artists is not-one dimensional. The show does a good job in including that.”
The remaining section, “A Graphic Legacy,” contains prints and etchings from the impressionist movement.
The Jepson Center for the Arts often holds temporary exhibitions such as “Monet and American Impressionism.” According to McNeil choosing an exhibition is a thorough process, she tries to select those which have a lasting impact on the scholarship pertaining to the Jepson’s own collection.
“We could bring in a wonderful show that has nothing to do with anything else we’re doing, we spend all this effort, and when the show is gone, that work is gone too,” McNeil said. “Here, all the work we did, I wrote an essay for the exhibition catalog, all the research that was done ahead of time, it will benefit the museum and our archives and our understanding of our collection for generations to come.”
The juxtaposition of Monet’s works with the museum’s collection of American impressionism provides for a truly unique and exciting opportunity for the entire Savannah community. “It’s easy to just put some pretty things together on a wall,” McNeil said. “What’s more challenging and I think more worthwhile is assembling works that happen to be beautiful but that also provide a really exciting opportunity to delve deep into the philosophies of Monet and the Americans who were inspired by him. It’s a special opportunity.”