Musée d’Orsay Revisits the First Impressionist Exhibition—With a V.R. Boost

Featured image: The exterior of the building that held the exhibition in 1874. Photo: Musée d’Orsay.

The story of Impressionism’s birth has been told so often, it’s more myth than historic event. Generally, the tale goes something like this: in 1874, a ragtag gang of disaffected artists reject the Paris Salon by staging an alternative exhibition, critics lambast the art, and the ‘impressionism’ movement is born.

It’s an inaccurate simplification, one the Musée d’Orsay is keen to counter and complicate in an encyclopedic new exhibition “Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism.” The show arrives 150 years on from that exhibition and together with Washington’s National Gallery of Art, which will host the show in the Fall, the curators stress the primacy of context.

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Kaleidoscopic Paintings by Edie Fake Invoke the Spiritual Wisdom of Plants

Featured image: “Suasion” (2024), acrylic and gouache on wood panel, 36 x 36 inches

In Persuasions, artist Edie Fake turns their attention to the wise, enduring insights of plants. The new series of acrylic and gouache paintings expands Fake’s bold visual language to incorporate flowers, which they render amidst the kaleidoscopic geometries they’re known for. Evocative of architecture and mechanics, the colorful graphic works veer into the spiritual, melding the myriad systems that order our lives.

Fake often begins with a meticulous sketch in graphite. Using rulers and protractors, they render impeccably precise shapes that together, comprise a highly engineered network of gears, bottles, and lanterns.

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In ‘Epinal,’ Kristof Santy’s Vibrant Tableaux Nod to 19th-Century French Print Traditions

Featured image © Kristof Santy : “Bureau” (2024), oil on canvas, 200 x 180 centimeters

In 19th-century France, a style of bright, illustrative prints known as Images d’Épinal emerged as a way to portray subjects in sharp colors. The name was derived from the works’ first publisher, who hailed from the municipality of Épinal. And while the designs proved popular in children’s items like card games and books, their use as propaganda glorifying Napoleon I solidified the prints’ rise to fame. Today, “image d’Épinal” has become a proverbial expression in French to refer to a naïve depiction of something, showing only its good characteristics.

Roeselare, Belgium-based artist Kristof Santy nods to the legacy of the narrative tableaux in his striking paintings, portraying everyday scenes in vibrant colors, bold lines, and flattened perspectives. His playful, idealized compositions are simultaneously specific and universal; each painting brims with personal or idiosyncratic details that at the same time represent observations we all experience, from getting ready in the bathroom to going to the office to passing vehicles on the road. “Veevervoer,” for example, which means “livestock transport,” depicts a parked yellow truck with its driver-side curtain pulled shut and cartoonish animals peering out from the trailer.

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Teresa Lanceta Weaves the Fraught History of Spain

Featured image: Installation view of Teresa Lanceta: El sueño de la cólcedra (photo courtesy Museo Patio Herreriano de Arte Contemporáneo Español)

VALLADOLID, Spain — In Teresa Lanceta’s weavings, the cyclical nature of human history is translated into warps and wefts. The Spanish artist and historian has produced conceptually and materially rigorous textile works since the 1970s that frame weaving not just as an artisanal technique, but as a pivotal cultural and political practice with far-reaching consequences. El sueño de la cólcedra, her solo exhibition at the Museo Patio Herreriano de Arte Contemporáneo Español, is a lyrical, site-specific investigation into the ways that textiles shaped Spain during the 13th and 14th centuries, a time when the Iberian Peninsula was a rich but embattled home to Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities.

Lanceta has a unique context for this ongoing project, which she began in 2022: The museum is located in a former monastery, and the chapel where her work is installed — previously known as the Capilla de los Condes de Fuensaldaña — was itself a burial place during the 14th century. The exhibition’s title, translating as “The dream of the quilt,” references a funerary textile that the Castilian King Alfonso VIII was buried with when he died in 1214 in Burgos. The piece is one of several important historical textiles that Lanceta researched and reinterpreted from the pivotal turning point in Spanish history when the northern Christian kingdoms began their “Reconquista” against the Muslim forces that had ruled much of the peninsula for centuries. Another is the Pendón de las Navas de Tolosa, a famous textile said to have been taken as loot by Alfonso VIII after he won a major battle against the Almohad leader Muhammad al-Nasir. Elements from the Pendón’s original design are incorporated into a series of colored pencil drawings in which Lanceta has superimposed illustrations of injured soldiers with severed limbs.

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Glorious Blooms Erupt in Nidhi Mariam Jacob’s Meticulous Fantasy Garden Paintings

Featured image © Nidhi Mariam Jacob

In the painstakingly detailed canvases of Nidhi Mariam Jacob, myriad flowers and fronds bloom in a vibrant visual symphony. The Bangalore-based artist draws on a longstanding love for the environment. “Nature has been my biggest healer since I was a child,” she tells Colossal. “I spent a lot of my time alone, watching flowers and trees in my mother’s and grandparents’ gardens or out in nature. I loved sitting under the shade of a specific mango tree when I felt down or sad or even extremely happy, and I still do to this day.”

Jacob’s mother was adept at tending to a wide array of plants and propagating cuttings. “I used to believe that my mother was a nature goddess,” the artist says. “She would take cuttings from everywhere, stick them in some soil in her kitchen garden and it would be sprouting leaves in no time. I thought she had magic in her fingers!”

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Iconoclastic Artist Alice Shaddle Re-Emerges in Chicago Exhibition

Featured image: Alice Shaddle: Pond, 1978

A curator recently shared with me a digital folder containing scanned slides of Alice Shaddle’s art, a lifetime of sculptures, collages, paintings, and installations, some of them representational, many others almost unclassifiably baroque. As I browsed the works—most constructed from paper, latex, or vinyl—two words kept recurring in the captions: whereabouts unknown. An unnamed 1960s sculpture of an overdressed little girl jutting forward with sinister pomp: whereabouts unknown. Camel (1969), a work that looks less like a desert animal than a two-headed bird in the throes of a delirious molt: whereabouts unknown. Gardener (1974), a sculpture that resembles a carnivorous flower that’s both torpid and overfed: whereabouts unknown.

As much as it applies to particular works in her oeuvre, whereabouts unknown could just as well describe Shaddle’s own legacy when consulting histories of 20th-century Chicago art. But what might explain the near total omission of a figure who created a multitudinous body of work, taught at one of the city’s most revered art spaces for more than a half-century, and died not all that long ago, in 2017, at the age of 88? Shaddle wasn’t included in “Art in Chicago: 1945–1995,” an important survey at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 1996, nor was she mentioned in the catalog. She was consigned to a literal footnote in Art in Chicago: A History from the Fire to Now, an otherwise encyclopedic account of the city’s art scene, published in 2018. And her work is almost never on view at any major hometown museum or gallery that I know of.

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How ‘Avant Garde’ Became an Art Term

Featured image: Salvador Dalí, Who Stole the Tarts?, 1969. From the 1969 edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Photo by © Historical Picture Archive/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

What’s the deal with Leonardo’s harpsichord-viola? Why were Impressionists obsessed with the color purple? Art Bites brings you a surprising fact, lesser-known anecdote, or curious event from art history. These delightful nuggets shed light on the lives of famed artists and decode their practices, while adding new layers of intrigue to celebrated masterpieces.

The term “avant-garde” describes movements, artists, and artworks that challenge the status quo. Often seen as merely provocative and controversial in their day, they retrospectively come to be understood as revolutionary—cornerstones in the development of art as we know it. The term is borrowed from French, where it originally referred to the vanguard of an army, a reconnaissance party that scouts what lies ahead. How, then, did a military metaphor become applicable to art?

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3XN’s Immersive Exhibition In Copenhagen Explores Architecture and Senses

From March 22nd to September 15th, the Danish Architecture Center is hosting AWARE: Architecture and Senses, an exhibition by the Danish architecture and research studio 3XN GXN. This showcase urges visitors to engage, comprehend, and contemplate their connection with architecture. Rather than displaying the studio’s portfolio, the exhibition invites guests to explore six immersive, life-sized installations. Here, the focus shifts away from mere form or function, prioritizing instead the visitors’ spatial experiences. These encounters epitomize the essence of architecture: not just materials like brick, concrete, or steel, but the interplay between human bodies and spaces, and the nuanced relationship between spatial atmospheres and human emotions.

‘Design choices are never merely aesthetic – they fundamentally influence our lives and affect our experiences,’ says Kim Herforth Nielsen, 3XN Founder and Creative Director. ‘Architecture shapes our behaviour. Are you – are we – aware of how?’

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Elaborate Fragments of Line and Color Transform into Bodies and Landscapes in Lui Ferreyra’s Vibrant Compositions

Featured image: “Axis Mundi,” oil on linen, 84 x 64 inches Image © Lui Ferreyra

The deceptively simple power of line and color comes into full force in Lui Ferreyra’s paintings and colored penciled drawings (previously). “I’ve been drawn to the figure and the human face from the beginning,” the artist tells Colossal. “The real subject matter of the work, however, is the breakdown of visual information itself.”

Puzzle-like compartments, which the artist describes as a “coarse-grain deconstruction of visual information,” fit together to highlight realistic body parts or dramatic scenery. Ferreyra is interested in the idea of gestalt, a term often often associated with the adage, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” and used in psychology to describe the way that human behavior and the mind are interconnected.

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Damien H. Ding’s Dreams of a Modernist Past

Featured image: Damien H. Ding, “Drawing an A” (2023), egg tempera on panel, 49.125 x 61.125 inches framed

BOSTON — I did not know of Damien H. Ding’s art until I saw his debut exhibition, Simple Structures, at Steven Zevitas Gallery. The show consists of five egg tempera paintings on aluminum surfaces and two large sculptures made of repurposed wooden beams, both with small paintings on wood inserted into carefully made notches. (The sculptures were built in collaboration with Juan-Manuel Pinzon.) Ding’s understated gesture of inserting his painting into a rigid architectural form is a key to understanding his approach to art-making. Although the critic Harold Bloom might have called him a “belated” modernist, Ding rejects Bloom’s thesis that artists must engage in an Oedipal battle with their forebears. Rather, he finds ways to establish a dialogue with a historical figure — the world-renowned modernist architect I. M. Pei — that reveals something about the subject, himself, and his wide-ranging internal dialogue about art.

In one painting, Ding depicts Pei dreaming; in another, the architect holds an inverted glass pyramid that resembles the one he designed for the Louvre Museum. Pei believed that cubism’s exploration of space was the basis of modern architecture. Working in the International Style, which favored rectilinear forms and planes devoid of ornamentation, as well as spacious interiors and glass and steel construction, Pei’s best-known accomplishments include the triangular design of the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (opened in 1978) and the glass pyramid in one of the Louvre’s courtyards (1989), for which he received mixed responses.

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