Starting in June, you’ll have to travel to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris to see the groundbreaking exhibition about Impressionist painter, Berthe Morisot — but before the Parisians have this exhibit, you can see it at the Dallas Museum of Art (through May 26) and immerse yourself in the life and work of this extraordinary artist.
The title of the exhibit is “Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist” but this, to me, is misleading as Morisot was one of the most important Impressionist artists — man OR woman. To give you an example of her artistic reputation during her lifetime, Edgar Degas (you know him, painter and sculptor of ballerinas and backstages of Operas) didn’t want to exhibit without her in 1874 in what would become known as the first Impressionist exhibition:
“It seems to us that Mademoiselle Berthe Morisot’s name and talent are too well suited to our mission to pass up.”
Have you been to Claude Monet’s house and garden at Giverny? (You know Monet: sunsets and lily pads, Rouen Cathedral and haystacks). Morisot’s paintings hang on his walls because, during his lifetime, Monet was a fan and collector of her work.
Degas, Monet, Manet, Renoir — all of the male Impressionist artists whose names you no doubt recognize — believed that Morisot was one of the best among them. And this exhibit is proof that they were right.
It’s room after room after room of jaw-droopingly beautiful Impressionist masterpieces. Her brushwork, her light, the way color plays across fabric — she’s a virtuoso of modernist paint.
For too long, too many art historians and museum goers have pushed Morisot into the background — because she was a woman and because she painted a lot of women. But it’s time we stop treating her as a supporting character and do what this exhibit does: bring Morisot into the role of protagonist, leader, master. As she said,
I don’t think there has ever been a man who treated a woman as an equal, yet that’s all I would have asked for, because I know I am of equal worth.
One of my favorite pieces in the exhibition is a self-portrait of Morisot at age 44. That’s how old I am right now.
I feel a kinship to this “woman Impressionist” because I am so often referred to as a “woman writer.” And I don’t want to be a “woman writer” any more than a man wants to be a “man writer” (it sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Have you ever heard of such a thing?) I just want to be a writer, as Morisot just wanted to be a painter.
To walk through this exhibit is to encounter a masterful artist daring greatly in her work, asking the world to see her, embrace her, celebrate her. So, go. Celebrate her and her work in Dallas.
When I finished this exhibit, I told my husband that flying to Paris to see it would’ve been worth the trip. But Texas is a whole lot closer than France, so get yourself to Dallas before it’s gone.
I can’t recommend this one enough.
Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist
Dallas Museum of Art
Now through May 26th