For this Summer Session we’re thinking about going Back to School, musing on art education, pedagogy, and learning. From our sister publication Art Practical we bring you John Zarobell’s review of the San Francisco Legion of Honor’s 2011 Camille Pissarro exhibition. Zarobell finds that the show reveals a radical politic of Impressionism that is often overlooked in the works of some of the more famous artists. The author demonstrates the value of returning to historicized works, and articulates how thoughtful curation can uncover new meanings in older movements. This review was originally published on November 2, 2011.
Camille Pissarro. Apple Harvest, 1888; oil on canvas; 24 x 29.13 in. Courtesy of the Artist and the Dallas Museum of Art.
Take away the more iconic images of Impressionism, whether sylvan glades or water lily umbrellas, and you might find something entirely new under the teeming surfaces of colorful brushstrokes. Organized by inveterate Impressionism scholar Richard Brettell and coordinated here by James Ganz of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Pissarro’s People at the Legion of Honor reconsiders an essential figure of the Impressionist movement whose name is not as familiar as Monet’s or Renoir’s. Even the most astute students of art history may be surprised by this exhibition; at last we have an Impressionist’s vision of domestic life, agricultural work, and radical politics joined in a single presentation. Those who think that the best lessons on anarchism can be found at Occupy Wall Street are bound to discover that artists have been there long before.