Greats of French Modernism – Cézanne, Chagall, Monet, Matisse, Rodin and more presented in West Coast Premiere

The Vancouver Art Gallery Launches Winter Season with
French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850–1950

Exhibition Tracing Century of Avant-Garde Art Making Presented in
West Coast Premiere

This winter, visitors to the Vancouver Art Gallery will see modern works by Cézanne, Chagall, Degas, Manet, Matisse, Morisot, Renoir, Rodin and others as part of the West Coast premiere of French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850–1950, on view February 16 to May 20, 2019. Comprised of sixty paintings, drawings and sculptures, this exhibition from Brooklyn Museum’s collection shines light on France as the centre of international modernism during a century of artistic innovation.

Drawing from its own collection, the Vancouver Art Gallery will also present the concurrent exhibition Affinities: Canadian Artists and France demonstrating the significant impact of French art on Canadian art practices and ideas from the end of the 19th century to now.

“The artists associated with Impressionism, Realism, Surrealism and other modern genres honed their practice in Paris, where the rules of art making were forever changed,” says Kathleen S. Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “We are proud to showcase examples of masterworks by such greats from the Brooklyn Museum Collection in French Moderns simultaneously with works from the Gallery’s collection in Affinities: Canadian Artists and France, offering a fascinating look at the ongoing cross-cultural exchange between North American and European artists and ideas.”

Between the time of the 1848 Revolution in France and the end of World War II, major cultural transformations driven in part by the industrial revolution heralded an era of deep intellectual, political and social evolution distinctly expressed through the arts in Paris. From the reign of naturalism, to the rise of abstraction, avant-garde artists featured in French Moderns redefined genres of landscape, portraiture, still life and the nude in radical ways. Offering compelling examples of work from a critical century in Western art history, French Moderns is organized chronologically into five sections: The Academy, Breaking from the Academy, The Impressionists and their Circle, Early Modernism, and Surrealism and Abstraction.

This exhibition presents celebrated artists including those native to France as well as those who trained and exhibited there: Pierre Bonnard, William Bouguereau, Gustave Caillebotte, Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Fernand Léger, Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Gabriele Münter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Auguste Rodin. Highlights include conservative works by Bouguereau of L’École des Beaux-Arts, works by artists such as Degas, Monet and Renoir from various group shows in rejection of the official Paris Salon exhibitions, and examples of Léger’s non-descriptive use of line and colour, which later led to complete abstraction.

Based on its initial acquisitions of French modernist works, the Brooklyn Museum is considered a pioneer among American collection institutions. Today it is recognized as one of North America’s preeminent repositories of French modernism.

Presented in conjunction with this exhibition, Affinities: Canadian Artists and France, organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery, will be on view February 16 to May 20, 2019

Looking at the significance that French art and culture has held for Canadian artists over the past 120 years, this exhibition of works from the Vancouver Art Gallery’s collection focuses on influences of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Surrealism on Canadian artists during the first half of the twentieth century. Further, it examines the interest of contemporary Canadian artists in the legacy of French Modernism and feminist theory. Featured artists include J.W. Morrice, Emily Carr, Maurice Cullen, Paul-Émile Borduas, Rodney Graham, Mary Scott and Lucy Hogg, among others.

French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850-1950 is organized by the Brooklyn Museum.

Public Programs:

The following programs in support of French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850-1950 will take place in Room 4East in the Gallery and are free for members or with Gallery admission. Registration is recommended.

February 16 | 3 PM
Lecture: Lisa Small on French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850-1950

Lisa Small, Senior Curator, European Art at the Brooklyn Museum will discuss the period and the emergence of Modern Art in 19th century France.

March 12 | 7 PM
Lecture: Sophie Barthélémy on Matisse and Marquet

Sophie Barthélémy, Director of Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux, France will speak on the work of Henri Matisse and his life-long friendship with Fauvist painter Albert Marquet.

March 30 | 3 PM
Lecture: Dr. Charmaine A. Nelson on Emancipation and Modern Art

Charmaine A. Nelson, Professor of Art History at McGill University, will speak on how artists such as Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux address emancipation through artistic techniques of polychromy vs. neoclassicism.

For more up-to-date information on Public Programs, visit

The Vancouver Art Gallery is grateful to its exhibition sponsors and supporters:

Major support provided by:
Cathy Zuo

Visionary Partners for Historical Exhibitions:
Huaijun Chen and Family

Additional support:
Patricia Wakefield

Feature image: [Berthe Morisot, Madame Boursier and Her Daughter, c. 1873, oil on canvas, Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 29.30, Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum]

About the Vancouver Art Gallery (

Founded in 1931, the Vancouver Art Gallery is recognized as one of North America’s most respected and innovative visual arts institutions. The Gallery’s ground-breaking exhibitions, extensive public programs, and emphasis on advancing scholarship all focus on historical and contemporary art from British Columbia and around the world. Special attention is paid to the accomplishments of Indigenous artists, as well as to the arts of the Asia Pacific region—through the Institute of Asian Art that the Gallery founded in 2014. The Gallery’s programs also explore the impacts of images in the larger sphere of visual culture, design and architecture.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is a not-for-profit organization supported by its members, individual donors, corporate funders, foundations, the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is situated on traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-waututh) peoples, and is respectful of the Indigenous stewards of the land it occupies, whose rich cultures are fundamental to artistic life in Vancouver and to the work of the Gallery.

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