March 30, 2011

Fake Issue: ‘Impressionist Landscapes’ exhibit is a blurry, sloppy mess

“Landscape is nothing but an impression,” said Claude Monet, “and an instantaneous one.”

If these words by this so-called “artist” Monet are true, then we have differing opinions of the word “impression.” My “impression” of this show and this group of artists who call themselves Impressionists is that it’s all child’s play. These paintings can’t be art. They are a series of pastel-colored dots splattered together to resemble the great outdoors. It looks like the Easter Bunny was caught in the crosshairs of a drive-by while delivering a basket of eggs over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house.

The exhibit, now showing at the Speed Art Museum, features more than 73 of these paint-by-dot pieces by the likes of Monet, John Singer Sargent and Frederick Childe Hassam, to name a few. You’d be advised to bring a pair of 3-D glasses — perhaps you’ll actually be able to recognize shapes and figures, or even see a lily pad zoom right over your head.

These mostly French men bring shame to the word “art.” I will go so far as to label them radicals. They simply cannot stay in the lines — a fundamental skill they should have learned in kindergarten. It’s like they’re obsessed with capturing how sunlight hits trees, buildings and bridges. Frankly, I’d rather just see indoor still-lifes and portraits — now that’s art. “Mona Lisa” anyone?

I asked one of the curators of the show how a typical Impressionist piece is created, and straight-faced, she said that often wet paint is applied to wet paint. Preposterous! Every artist knows you must wait for paint to dry before returning to the piece. No wonder they revel in such soft edges and girly colors. There’s hardly a dab of black to be found anywhere!

My advice: Don’t waste your time or money traipsing through room after room of uninspiring water lilies and farmlands. If it’s dots and pastels you’re after, grab a pint of Dippin’ Dots ice cream and stroll down the Easter aisle at Wal-Mart.

‘Impressionist Landscapes: Monet to Sargent’
Through May 22
Speed Art Museum
2035 S. Third St. • 634-2700
www.speedmuseum.org