Nassau County Museum Of Art Presents “Impressionism: A World View”

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By Hannah Devlin

Museum launches a new initiative to make art more accessible

Art by Alfred Sisley.

Nassau County Museum of Art (NCMA) currently showcases artists from around the world in its exhibit titled “Impressionism: A World View.” The display focuses on the beloved art movement of impressionism. The art style is characterized by its visible brush strokes with bold, unmixed colors. The movement began in 19th century France with artists like Monet, Manet, Degas, Pissaro and Renoir. Impressionism was originally met with harsh criticism, as audiences believed that the visible lines made the work look unfinished and incomplete, but it is now a beloved and appreciated art form. While impressionism began to generate its audience, the movement began to spread to other areas internationally.
Because of its origins, many impressionist exhibitions focus mainly on France and surrounding countries. However, the NCMA has provided its patrons with impressionist painters from around the world. While there are French artists displayed–notably Degas, Renoir, Pissaro and Cézanne–there are also artists from areas that are not usually renowned for their impressionism, like Vietnam, Hungary and England.
“This exhibition, as noted by the title, is ‘Impressionism: A World View,’” explained NCMA’s Director of Education Laura Lynch. “The idea is that impressionism moved around the world. There were artists that came to Paris and met other artists. They were influenced, inspired by the French artists like Renoir, Monet and Degas. They got to experience the style of impressionism, and would go home to their countries of origin and paint in that style… That is what is on view.”

Art by Childe Hassam.

While the exhibition pays homage to international artists and landscapes, it also pays attention to local scenery as well. One of the galleries is dedicated to paintings depicting Long Island landscapes. This aspect of the exhibit, once again, shares a different story about impressionism.
“There were many artists out East,” explains Lynch, “who had travelled to Paris and met all the other impressionist artists. And just like any other new style… they got inspired and started their own schools on the island.”
“The Painters of Peconic” displays the beautiful scenery of the North Fork, allowing patrons to look at a familiar environment through a new lens.
Another departure from the status quo is the museum’s attention to contemporary impressionism. After moving through the museum’s galleries on the first floor, the second floor of the museum hosts contemporary artwork that has similar qualities and traits to traditional impressionist artwork. These works were chosen for the exhibit because of traits including light, brushstroke and color.
“We feel like they are extending, or continuing, in the tradition of impressionism and the movement,” said Lynch. “It was important for us to show the impact of impressionism and the enduring power of impressionism–in the sense that artists now are still absorbed and focused on how to manipulate light and color and atmosphere.”
All of these elements create a beautiful and well-rounded exhibit. Through this unique lens of impressionism, visitors have the opportunity to see both traditional French artists alongside international and contemporary artists. Additionally, patrons have the opportunity to see Long Island in a new light.
Because the NCMA has proven to be an important resource to provide outdoor space to its visitors–especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic–it’s appropriate that there is an exhibition on impressionism, an artform that values capturing the beauty of nature. After the invention of the camera in the 19th century, artists felt less concerned with capturing their subjects exactly as is, and instead they focused on capturing fleeting moments in time. With this intention shift, artists became much more occupied with capturing moments in nature, aiming to capture shifts in lighting.

Art by Jacques Martin-Ferriéres.
(Photos by Hannah Devlin)

“There is a conversation between the work on our walls and the nature on our grounds,” said Lynch. With so many beautiful landscapes on the walls of the museum, it’s hard to ignore the beauty of the nature surrounding the castle.
Alongside “Impressionism: A World View,” the NCMA has launched a new format for viewing their exhibits. Beginning with the current display, the museum has introduced QR codes next to text descriptions that will provide both a Spanish and Mandarin translation. This is an initiative that will continue to be provided moving forward. The translated tour is just one way that the museum hopes to welcome visitors of diverse backgrounds and create a more accessible space for non-English speakers.
“A goaled mission of the museum,” said Lynch, “is to make the museum a welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds, interests, and abilities.” As an essential part of the community, it is important for the museum to serve all visitors that enter their grounds.
In addition to the exhibit and resources above, the museum provides numerous classes and programs to its visitors. These programs are available to the public and can be found on the museum’s website, https://nassaumuseum.org/ . For anyone interested in learning more about the exhibit, the museum offers “Impressionism–A Guide to Looking” on their website with more information.

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