The Evanston Public Library announces “Perspectives on French Impressionism,” a no-cost, no-credit, two-session class offered to the Evanston community in partnership with the Northwestern Emeriti Organization. The instructor will be Professor Emerita Hollis Clayson, an internationally recognized expert on cultural and artistic movements originating in Paris. Both classes will take place on the nights of January 18 and 25 on Zoom. A full class description and an opportunity to sign up are available online at https://evanston.libnet.info/event/5417087.
Like many of today’s important social and cultural movements, Impressionism – a style of painting and print, a social formation and an ideology of modernity – was originally despised and derided by the conservative arbiters of taste in 1870s Paris. Yet it is among the most revered art forms, as the long lines at (pre-pandemic) museum exhibitions around the world attest.
“In this class we’re going to ask why,” says Clayson, Professor Emerita of Art History and Bergen Evans Professor Emerita of the Humanities at Northwestern. “Let us together discern the irony of the current popularity of a style that is strange and in many ways anti-intellectual – for it is a non-stop glorification of the rubbish of perception.”
To understand its birth and its rise in the esteem of so many art viewers, class participants will learn about the institutional history of French Impressionism and examples of the work of leading artists, including Gustave Caillebotte, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot , Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Prof. Clayson will also analyze the relationship between his works and the rapid modernization of the city of Paris and its surroundings.
Hollis Clayson has published extensively on artistic practices in Paris. your books are Painted Love: Prostitution in French Art of the Impressionist Era (1991), Paris in despair: art and everyday life under siege (1870-1871) (2002), Is Paris still the capital of the 19th century? Essays on art and modernity, 1850-1900 (2016), co-edited with André Dombrowski, and Paris Illuminated: Essays on Art and Illumination in the Belle Époque (2019). Among his teaching awards are these from Northwestern: a Weinberg Distinguished Teaching Award (1987), a Charles Deering McCormick Professorship of Teaching Excellence (1993-96), and the See Steeg Graduate Teaching Award (2016). His research was supported by the Getty, the Clark, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Huntington, the National Gallery of Art and the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (Paris). In 2014, she was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes academics. His latest project studies World Fairs and focuses on the reception of the Eiffel Tower in 1889 and today.
Although attendance of both classes is strongly recommended, is not required for participation. Suggested readings and Zoom login information will be distributed via email to all registered participants well in advance of the first class.
To register, visit https://evanston.libnet.info/event/5417087.