Spectacles of Modern Life
January 10, 2021
Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt at the Louvre, ca. 1879. etching. Collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art. Mississippi Art Association purchase, 1966
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Ta Bouche, 1893. lithograph. Collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art. Gift of M.B. White, 1979
Jean-François Millet, Woman Carding Wool, ca. 1855. etching. Collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art. Bequest of Sara Virginia Jones, 1991
Spectacles of Modern Life: French Art from the Collection
To run concurrently with Van Gogh, Monet, and their Times, the Mississippi Museum of Art will feature a gallery of French works of art from the collection, donated and purchased over several decades in the late 20th century.
The focus on everyday life in works of art was a sudden and almost radical shift in Western art during the1800s. Many artists turned away from the academic narratives of history and religion, instead looking around them for subjects such as street scenes, industry, social life, and transportation. This impulse to depict moments from their own lives echoed an era when Paris was experiencing rapid technological growth and modernization. Often their work not only challenged how art could be made but also shed light on the nuances of modern life.
This selection of works of art from the Museum’s permanent collection reveals how modern life was interpreted by this new wave of artists, among them Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Mary Cassatt. This moment in art history marked a steady movement towards abstraction as artists established new theories and new ways of seeing, while taking their subject matter from the rapidly-advancing world they lived in.
Curated by Elizabeth Abston, Spectacles of Modern Life will be on view in the William B. and Isabel R. McCarty Foundation Gallery (Icons).