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Symposium: Against the Grain: California Scholars Look at Impressionism

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"Against the Grain: California Scholars Look at Impressionism” analyzes and celebrates the contribution of California universities to the study of 19th- and 20th-century painting, including French Impressionism. Since World War II, major graduate programs in art history have been created at most of the great public and private universities in California, making the state one of the most important intellectual centers in the world for art history of the modern era.

The morning session will begin with Guy Cogeval, Director of Musée d’Orsay, introducing two lectures, presented by Richard Brettell, McDermott Distinguished Chair, University of Texas at Dallas, and Stephen F. Eisenman, Professor of the History of Art, Northwestern University, dealing with the formation of this strand of art historical knowledge in the state of California. Brettell will address conventional art history in universities and museums, emphasizing the careers and practices of art historians such as Jacques de Caso, Henri Dorra, Gerald Ackerman, Albert Elsen, Albert Boime, Charles Moffett, Scott Schaefer, Lynn Federle Orr, and others. Stephen F. Eisenman will chronicle the rise of politically inflected or “radical” art history and critical theory at UCLA, Berkeley, UCSD, and other centers, emphasizing the “double career” of T. J. Clark (at UCLA and later, Berkeley), O.K. Werkmeister, Al Boime (who was both conventional and radical), Tom Crow, (a graduate student at UCLA and later Director of the Getty Research Center), and Eisenman himself, as well as their students and followers.

The afternoon will be devoted to invitational short papers given by graduate students and recent graduates from California universities on French or Franco-American-European art of the modern era. The symposium will commence a critical discussion of this important subject designed both to interest a larger public and to focus critical attention on the scholarly accomplishments of California since World War II.

10:00 a.m.
Introduction by Guy Cogeval, Director, Musée d’Orsay

10:20–11:05 a.m.
“The Academy and the Avant-Garde in California-based Art History:1960–Present”

Richard Brettell, McDermott Distinguished Chair, University of Texas at Dallas

11:05–11:50 a.m.
“The Cultural Logic of Radical Art History in California"

Stephen F. Eisenman, Professor of the History of Art, Northwestern University

11:50 a.m.–1:00 p.m.                  
"Was Post–World War II California the Best Place in the World to Study Modern European Art?

Panel discussion led by art historian and curator Joachim Pissarro, great-grandson of the Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro, with Richard Terdiman, Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz; Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara; Richard Brettell; and Stephen Eisenman

2:00 p.m.                 
Afternoon session, opening remarks

2:30–3:00 p.m.                 
"Impressionism as Living Art"

John Tain, Department of History of Art, University of California, Berkeley, and Curator, Modern and Contemporary and Collection Development, Getty Research Institute

3:00–3:30 p.m.                  
"Cézanne and the Unfinished: Mystery and Frustration"

Alexandra Courtois, University of California, Berkeley

3:30–4:00 p.m.                  
"Describing the Parlor in Post-Haussmann France: Le Style Moderne or the Exception to the Rule"

Anca I. Lasc, PhD Candidate in Art History, University of Southern California

4:00–4:30 p.m.                  
"Interiors: Odilon Redon’s Portraits of the Baroness de Domecy"

Caty Telfair, University of California, Berkeley

Partner, Donor, Sponsor Credits

Against the Grain: California Scholars Look at Impressionism is made possible by Denise Littlefield Sobel.

Ticket Information
Tickets are $10 for members of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and college students and $20 for the general public. Admission to museum galleries is not included and is not required to attend the symposium. Tickets for the exhibition Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay are free for museum members and are $20 for non-members in advance, $25 day of visit (including general admission to the de Young). Advance purchase is highly recommended; tickets are available online or at the museum.
Contact Information
Andrea Martin