100111: Museum Folkwang Images of a capital. The Impressionists in Paris

Museum Folkwang Images of a capital. The Impressionists in Paris 02.10.10 – 30.01.11 Paris, devoid of dogs “I want some apple juice!” – my four and a half-year old daughter and I had just entered the first of 13 rooms of the exhibition at the Folkwang Museum in Essen, when she asked: “when are we leaving?” Admittedly, the exhibition: “Images of a capital. The Impressionists in Paris” is not really suitable for children, but I had hoped for a little more patience. But then I had a brainwave: “Did you see the dogs?” – “Where are they?” This is how our walk through the exhibition lasted for 45 minutes without any more expressions of displeasure. The first dog appears practically out of the blue. We march into the central room of the exhibition – in the opposite direction of the exhibition choreography. Here a rather ragged specimen runs across the picture of the Pont de l’Europe by Gustave Caillebotte (1876). Who is the owner? The stylish couple with the umbrella? More likely the man in the gown, who so obviously turns away from the strolling couple and looks down towards the railroad tracks. Two outsiders who don’t fit into the picture of the embellished capital. We continue through the show and encounter great names: van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Renoir. And detached from the somewhat random arrangement we experience “a fascinating walk through the capital of the 19th century” – as the director of the museum, Hartwig Fischer, promises that one would. But no matter where we go – be it Renoir’s Dance in the Moulin de la Galette or the Avenue de l’Opera, or a Sunny Winter Morning by Camille Pissaro - everything is clean, bright, and devoid of dogs. Then we discover two four-legged friends in front of the Grocery Store in the Rue des Abbesses. Together with Maximilien Luce we reach the outskirts of a new city, the Montmartre District. And thanks to George Seurat we come upon a happy little dog prancing on the banks of the Seine River near Courbevoie. My daughter and I agree: we’re through half the exhibition and there were only four dogs, how disappointing. Why are there so few dogs? No idea, maybe just a coincidence. And maybe it’s symbolic for the young, the bright and civilized Paris of Baron Haussmann. But how should I explain that? Well, at that time they had just built many new houses. With wide streets and water pipes and sewage systems. They didn’t have any of that before? No, the houses were old and stood close together. And that’s why they weren’t allowed to have dogs? I don’t know, but maybe the artists wanted to show that everything was cleaner now. – That’s funny. We discover three more dogs in the exhibition: first we encounter the one by Adolph Menzel. The guest – not only is he from Berlin but also from another time – depicts a Parisian Weekday: to him the tall town houses are only decoration. In front of them there are masses of people: exotic people with turbans, elegant coffee shop visitors, and nannies that all seem to be in a hurry. Someone strolling along would not survive. And somewhere in this bustle we find two dogs crawling around in the half-shade. After all of this detective work the seventh dog presents itself without much ado: in Edouard Manet’s Train (1873) we come across a young lady and a girl. Are they sisters? Both are elegantly dressed in white and blue. While the girl looks at the locomotive in the background the young lady faces us. She looks over to us in a relaxed but somewhat impassive way and practically ignores the little dog on her lap. Later we see the painting over and over again. It’s on the poster advertising the exhibition. “I know her”, my daughter says, “she is sad because she moved to a large house and isn’t allowed to keep the dog. Paris is such a stupid city full of houses.” By Torsten Kohlbrei Museum Folkwang 45128 Essen, Kahrstrasse 16 Tel: +49 201 88 45 301 Fax: +49 201 88 45 330 Email: info@museum-folkwang.essen.de http://www.museum-folkwang.de

Museum Folkwang
45128 Essen, Kahrstrasse 16
Tel: +49 201 88 45 000
Email: info@museum-folkwang.essen.de
Öffnungszeiten: Di, Mi, Sa, So 10-18, Do, Fr 10-20 h

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