Impressionists: The Street-Style Photographers of the Past
“The latest fashion…is absolutely necessary for a painting. It’s what matters most.” Edouard Manet said that in 1881. And his sentiment is at the core of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s latest fashion-centric exhibition, Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, which runs from February 26 through May 27 in the Tisch Galleries. Curated by Susan Alyson Stein, the exhibit presents a look at the role of fashion in works of the Impressionists, such as Manet, Monet, Tissot, and Renoir. About eighty major figure paintings—showcased alongside period costumes, accessories, photographs, and prints—highlight the relationship between fashion and art from the mid-1860s to the mid-1880s, when Paris emerged as the style capital of the world. The exhibit comprises eight galleries, each organized thematically. One gallery is devoted to outdoor scenes of leisure, in which women wore cotton piqué dresses adorned with scrollwork embroidery, while another focuses on the white dress, as exemplified by Renoir’s masterpiece Lise, in which he captures his nineteen-year-old mistress charmingly dressed for the country. Black silk gowns are also a focal point of the time period (when are they not?), as seen in Manet’s famous The Lady with Fans (above), and even menswear and accessories have their place in Impressionism.
“This gallery and the seven that follow offer a unique opportunity to consider the parallels of style in art and fashion that evolved over a twenty-year period as they came of age. But the show is timely and topical in terms of the conflation of high art and fashion,” said Stein during a preview yesterday. “Like the street photographers of today, [the Impressionists] were artists who wished to capture the look of the moment.”