Acclaimed French artist Françoise Gilot's early career will be spotlighted in "Françoise Gilot: 1940-1950," which will feature 46 paintings and drawings that evoke one of the most turbulent eras in French history.
Like Picasso, whom she met in 1943, Gilot was willing to distort forms, freeing herself from all the conventions of representation. Gilot eventually became both Picasso's muse and partner.
In several of her early works, Gilot expresses the drama of existence under the harsh totalitarian regime of occupied France. These vivid, dire pieces gave way to renewed hope with the coming of peace in 1945. Gilot's tautly structured abstractions led her to join an artistic group, Realitées Nouvelles ("New Realities"), whose members believed it was no longer possible to exhibit images of human beings and devoted themselves to abstract works.
But Gilot rejected these constraints and continued to use both still life and the human figure as she explored aesthetic dynamism with a laboratory-like discipline.
"Françoise Gilot is a leading female artist in the School of Paris and an important writer about the period," said McMullen Museum Chief Curator Alston Conley. "She knew the two giants of French art, Picasso and Henri Matisse, and shared with them the 'fire-in-ice act of supreme control,' the hallmark cool-passion of French Art."
Gilot will speak about her life and work at a reception in her honor, which will be open to the public, on Sunday, Sept. 17 in Devlin Hall, from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
"NORTH EAST: Objects from the Mt. Holyoke College Art Museum" will display paintings and sculptures that demonstrate the influence of the Gothic North and the Byzantine East on the Italian Renaissance.
Although the Renaissance in Italy came about in the 14th century as a manifestation of a renewed interest in the heritage of ancient Rome, exhibition organizers say stylistic and ideological influences from both the decorative and aristocratic Northern Gothic tradition and the mystical spiritualism of the Byzantine East served as major factors in the foundation of a Renaissance identity.
"Hand-Held Delight: The Eighteenth-Century Fan" highlights the beauty and delicate craftsmanship of 18th-century European fans from the McMullen Museum's permanent collection.
The exhibition will include a selection of 14 fans, most of which have never before been on public display, and more than 120 that can be viewed on a video monitor. Hand-painted on vellum with finely carved ivory or mother-of-pearl sticks, the fans are exquisite examples of the merging of fashion with the decorative arts.
The museum's summer schedule is Monday to Friday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sunday from noon-5 p.m. The museum will be closed July 2-4. For information, call the Arts line at ext.2-8100, or visit the museum's World Wide Web site at /artmuseum.
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