If a piece of art is deemed worthy of being preserved in a museum, we might be led to think it’s always been widely appreciated. This isn’t necessarily the case, though—something highlighted by Dr. Galina Olmsted in her guide to “Impressionism at the Eskenazi Museum of Art.”
I completed a French minor at IU, so Impressionism has always held a special place in my heart. The French take their culture very seriously; they even have a governing body, l’Academie Francaise, that determines whether additions to the French language are sanctioned and legitimate. As Olmsted points out in her guide, this gatekeeping extended to art during the nineteenth century: Frédéric Bazille, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley all were rejected from the French art administration’s annual exhibition in 1867. So they put on their own exhibit in 1874—a decision that led to the development of Impressionism as an art movement.
It’s wild to think of Claude Monet or Paul Cézanne as iconoclasts when today their art is regarded as so influential and important. This makes me appreciate their art much more: not only are their hazy renderings of urban and rural life lovely and evocative, but they had to persist in the belief of their creative visions for the world to see their tableaus.
To take a virtual and curated tour of the Eskenazi’s Impressionism collection, check out Dr. Olmsted’s guide here. Or, for single pieces, check out two of my favorites at the museum: Claude Monet’s Le Bassin d’Argenteuil (see below) or Gustave Caillebotte’s Yerres, Effect of Rain.