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Anna Koster, public relations officer, Cantor Center for Visual Arts: (650) 725-4657,

John Sanford, writer, News Service: (650) 736-2151, jsanford@stanford

'Corot to Picasso' shows development of modern European art

The 58 paintings and sculptures that go on view Wednesday, July 11, at the Cantor Center for Visual Arts comprise an all-star show of European masters.

Degas, Cézanne, Corot, Manet, Monet, Picasso, Renoir, Rodin, Seurat, Mondrian, Kandinsky -- these are just a few of the artists whose works are featured in "Corot to Picasso: European Masterworks from the Smith College Museum of Art," which will remain at the Cantor Center through Sept. 23.

The exhibition is free and open to the public. Cantor Center docents provide free public tours of the exhibition at 12:15 p.m. Thursdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tours do not require a reservation for groups of 10 or fewer. To request tours for larger groups, call (650) 723-3469. The center is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. For more information, call (650) 723-4177.

Organized by the Smith museum from its vast collection of modern works, "Corot to Picasso" will travel to other U.S. museums through 2001 and most of 2002. Stanford is the exhibition's only California stop (made possible by a grant from Deutsche Bank and Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown).

Linda Muehlig, associate curator of the Smith College Museum of Art, will give a free, public lecture on the exhibition at 12:15 p.m. July 11 in the Cantor Center's auditorium.

Smith's extensive collection of early to late modern art from Europe and the United States stems largely from a "concentration plan" devised by the museum's first director, Alfred Vance Churchill, who decided to focus collection efforts on a topic -- the development of modern art -- rather than a particular nation or a school of art. "Corot to Picasso" traces the development of modern European art from the French Revolution through the early 20th century.

"The hook here is that we seldom have a chance to see this kind of survey of modern art at the Cantor Center," said Patience Young, curator for education at the center.

Bernard Barryte, chief curator at the center, agreed.

"This is a way to augment our own collection by bringing in some key and very representative works of both the dominant and innovative styles of the 19th through early 20th centuries," Barryte said. "For example, we don't have a single Expressionist painting, and there's a superlative one in the show."

And yet Smith's modern-art collection also is noteworthy because, for the most part, it does not include the best-known works by these modern European masters. In addition, the collection includes many of their unfinished works, which serve as excellent tools for studying the creative process, Young said.-

"It's a very different way of looking and studying art than delving into textbook examples," she added.

Several unfinished paintings are included in this exhibition. The Preparation of the Dead Girl (circa 1850-55), an unfinished canvas by the realist Gustave Courbet, entered the museum's collection with a different title -- The Preparation of the Bride. Originally, Courbet painted the central figure nude with her head slumped forward. The other women in the room were preparing for a wake, not a wedding, but evidently someone wanted to conceal the cadaverous subject of the work, possibly in an effort to fetch a higher price for it.

Among the other gems on view are a study by Georges Seurat for A Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte; oil paintings by Claude Monet, including two landscapes and a view of the Rouen Cathedral; and three works by Pablo Picasso -- a "blue period" selection, a classical nude and a Cubist painting.

The exhibition is particularly rich in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, including canvases by Edouard Manet, Pierre Renoir, Henri Fantin-Latour, Berthe Morisot, Paul Cézanne, Odilon Redon and Paul Gauguin.

The 19th-century Barbizon School of landscape painters is represented in the exhibition with works by Jean François Millet, Théodore Rousseau, Diaz de la Peña and Camille Corot.

Canvases by Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres demonstrate a Neoclassical emphasis on structure and symmetry. Meanwhile, a painting by Théodore Chasseriau and another attributed to that master of exoticism, Eugène Delacroix, demonstrate the lively color and energy of the Romantic Movement.

Other 19th-century works include sculptures by Constantin Meunier, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse.

Moving into the 20th century, Picasso's Table, Guitar, and Bottle (La Table) (1919-20) and the Dodo and Her Brother (1908-20), by the German Expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, are just two of the show's examples of the innovative and influential work done in the early 1900s.


By John Sanford

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