According to surveys, Impressionism is the favorite art movement of 80% of American museum-goers. Coincidentally, we have two shows of American Impressionists, one on either side of the Bay. The Tampa Museum (TMA) has "American Impressionists In The Garden", The Museum of Fine Arts in St Pete (MFA) has "American Impressionists".
The name of the movement comes from a particular painting by Claude Monet titled "Impression, Soleil Levant" (Impression Sunrise) from 1872. See here. For a little background on the movement, click here. From painting, it spread into sculpture and literature. In part, it was a reaction against the art of the day and to the then-infant juggernaut of photography.
After the Civil War, wealthy Americans, including many who had made fortunes from the conflict, traveled to Europe and returned with the requisite signifiers of European Art and sophistication. They encountered Impressionism and reacted with the same disgust the European establishment did. Eventually American painter Mary Cassat went to Europe, recognized its value, was accepted into the ranks, and the rest is history.
The show at the St. Pete Museum of Fine Arts is about an earlier part of the movement, when Impresionists were painting plein air in the wilderness, or more to the point, on the edge of it. One can see signs of man creeping into the landscapes shown. There's a number of works by the Taos painters well worth seeing. That show has only one or two paintings of gardens.
It is at this junction in time that you can cross the Bay and go to the Tampa Museum and see what happened next: American Impressionists in the Garden.
A rare and wonderful opportunity to see a wide range of American Impresionists over a good span of time.
Perhaps one reason why the Impressionist style is so popular is that neuroscientists have discovered that fuzzy images not only require more processing for the eye to interpret, but they take a different neural path, initially sending the signal into the amygdala and the lower brain, directly into the seat of the emotions.
This pair of shows is best seen sequentially, on the same day, or a day apart. Tampa Museum,
Museum hours: Mon, Tues, Wed, and Fri from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Thurs from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; and Sat and Sun from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Museum location: The new Tampa Museum of Art is located in downtown Tampa on the Hillsborough river at 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza.
Museum of Fine Arts, Last entry admission sold 45 minutes prior to Museum closing
Tuesday through Saturday - 10am to 5pm
Sunday - 1pm to 5pm
Monday - CLOSED
255 Beach Dr. N.E.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701