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Edouard Vuillard: Painting Patronage

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David Balzer reviews the exhibition Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890-1940 at the Jewish Museum, New York, on view through September 23, 2012.

Balzer writes that in the exhibition "one sees not only a fabulously talented painter at work, but also rich context, and multiple stories being told. One of these stories is of the prestigious Jewish patronage cycle in late-19th-century France… Another story is, both specifically and allegorically, of a painter's intimate relationship with his patrons… Yet another narrative is of an artist''s odd psychosexual attachments to three women, including his mother, who became muses always slightly beyond his reach. And were all of these stories unknown to viewers, there would still be the high literariness of the paintings themselves: scenarios examining the nature of time and memory, and the consciousness' reflection in the built and natural environments, with resounding echoes of writers of the era such as Marcel Proust (an acquaintance of Vuillard's), Henry James and Virginia Woolf."

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