The St. Louis Art Museum has opened an exhibition that its curators say acknowledges the contributions of a largely forgotten artist who was instrumental in the birth of modern art: 19th-century French painter Jean-François Millet.
The exhibition, “Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí,” is on display now through May 17. Millet’s work features landscapes, nudes and other work that inspired other artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet.
On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Simon Kelly, curator of modern and contemporary art at the St. Louis Art Museum. He is the co-curator of the exhibition along with Maite van Dijk, senior curator at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
One of the highlight pieces set to make its St. Louis debut is van Gogh’s lesser known “Starry Night” — it’s the one “Over the Rhône.”
“It’s a beautiful study of both natural light — you can see the big dipper in the sky … there’s a close study of astronomy there — and then alongside that, there’s a sort of fascination with the artificial light of the city. You can see all the gaslights, which are painted with these amazing kind of [thick] globs of paint,” Kelly said.
“It’s an amazing painting, and it’s really a gift that it’s here in St. Louis.”
There are 14 other van Gogh paintings visitors can expect to see in the exhibit.
Also featured is Millet, who inspired van Gogh, and other influential artists: Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, Claude Monet, Giovanni Segantini, Winslow Homer, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Edvard Munch and Salvador Dalí.
Kelly added that the exhibit aims to “rediscover” Millet’s radical artistic breakthroughs through his influence on other artists.
“He was painting the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized — so, his subject matter, he was giving them a real sort of dignity … [his work] is always grounded in nature, but it becomes very abstract. And that abstraction, the interest in pattern-making, became a key part in his modernity,” Kelly explained.
Listen to the full discussion:
What: “Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí”
When: Now through May 17, 2020
Where: St. Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive, St. Louis, MO 63110)
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.
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