You know it’s springtime in Baton Rouge when locals ditch hibernating at home for a sunny day outdoors. For French artists in the late 1800s, they looked forward to stepping outside, too.
During the 19th century, when the impressionist movement became prevalent, the invention of paint tubes and portable easels meant artists could start painting outdoors—which the French referred to as “en plein air.” Suddenly paintings of nature, landscapes and urban scenes were the trend, all in bright colors with visible brush strokes and a reverence for how sunlight bounces off objects.
Starting March 8, locals can view these original 19th century works by American and French artists in the exhibition “Across the Atlantic: American Impressionism through the French Lens” at the LSU Museum of Art.
“Impressionism is always really popular because it’s so beautiful and accessible,” museum curator Courtney Taylor says. “It’s really about having an aesthetic experience and connecting with nature.”
The LSU Museum of Art is the first stop on the national tour for the exhibition on loan from the Reading Public Museum in Pennsylvania. “Across the Atlantic” includes more than 65 paintings, portraits and prints dating back to the 1870s and 1880s. The exhibit showcases the journey of impressionism from its origins in France to the American interpretation of the style years later. Visitors will see works by French artists like Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Edgar Degas and American artists such as John Singer Sargent and Willard Metcalf.
Taylor says the museum plans to add iPads to the galleries that will allow viewers to participate in polls with real-time results and consider questions relating to the works.
“What we really want is for people to have an experience that makes them feel connected or gets them to think about larger ideas,” Taylor says. “The art is a prompt for thinking about the world or even contemplating beauty.”
This article was originally published in the March 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.