Impressionism, Fashion & Modernity


The show, Impressionism, Fashion & Modernity, is currently at the Metropolitan museum of Art, and it was curated in association with Chicago and The Orsay. The show takes inspiration from the appreciation of fashion of the impressionists, and contrasts in the same space paintings with their inspiring garments. It includes a very significant compilation of impressionist works (a lot where on loan from The Orsay) and a large collection of original garments of the era, some of which where the pieces that inspired said paintings.

Official Description: “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity presents a revealing look at the role of fashion in the works of the Impressionists and their contemporaries. Some eighty major figure paintings, seen in concert with period costumes, accessories, fashion plates, photographs, and popular prints, highlight the vital relationship between fashion and art during the pivotal years, from the mid-1860s to the mid-1880s, when Paris emerged as the style capital of the world. With the rise of the department store, the advent of ready-made wear, and the proliferation of fashion magazines, those at the forefront of the avant-garde—from Manet, Monet, and Renoir to Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and Zola—turned a fresh eye to contemporary dress, embracing la mode as the harbinger of la modernité. The novelty, vibrancy, and fleeting allure of the latest trends in fashion proved seductive for a generation of artists and writers who sought to give expression to the pulse of modern life in all its nuanced richness. Without rivaling the meticulous detail of society portraitists such as James Tissot or Alfred Stevens or the graphic flair of fashion plates, the Impressionists nonetheless engaged similar strategies in the making (and in the marketing) of their pictures of stylish men and women that sought to reflect the spirit of their age.”

I enjoy greatly both Art and Fashion so this was an exhibit I did not want to miss. After going, I can say that it is one that should definitely be seen. However do not go on a weekend! there are no limitations to entry, and at the time we went it became quite unbearable from the amount of people. Early mornings and weekdays should be best. The coverage on the exhibit from the NYTimes and the Financial Times  is very good as well as there is some further coverage by Wanderlust, the New Yorker and the Sartorialist. Some of the great works that they have in exhibit include: Gustave Caillebotte’s “Paris Street: Rainy Day, surviving panels of Claude Monet’s  “Luncheon on the Grass” , Manet’s Lady with Fan and “The Parisienne”  and Renoir’s The loge.

The NYTimes highlights one of the quotes from the exhibit as its best, Degas: “Think of a treatise on ornament for women or by women, based on their manner of observing, of combining, of selecting their fashionable outfits and all things. On a daily basis they compare, more than men, a thousand visible things with one another.” My favorite was this one, from August Renoir: ” Black is the queen of colors”. Second favorite, from Zola: “There are painters who love their era with all the artist’s mind and heart … they try above all to penetrate the exact meaning of things.. their works are neither banal and unintelligent fashion pictures nor journalistic drawings such as those published in the illustrated press. Their works are alive, because painters … have feelings for modern subjects.  Amongst those artists, in the first rank, I will mention Claude Monet.”

Here are some picture highlights from the Website (pictures courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

impress2 impress


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s