Vuillard: Remembrance of Things Past

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Piri Halasz reviews the exhibition Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses at The Jewish Museum, New York, on view through September 23, 2012.

Halasz writes: "In other paintings in this latter part of the show, one can see Vuillard's style evolving backwards, so to speak, from post-impressionism to something more like impressionism. Still, he was skillful at this new/old style & it served his purpose well. I was especially surprised (& enchanted) by the fifth gallery of the exhibition, hung with 9 later portraits, dating from ca. 1909 to 1939, the year before the artist's death. Many of these paintings are large, and two portray more than a single figure. All are marked by rich color & virtuoso brushwork, employed to depict not only human subjects, but also every detail of their affluent surroundings… Confronted with all this evidence of a perfectly presentable (if not exactly radical) later career for Vuillard, I asked myself, how could I ever have been under the impression that his work degenerated in his old age into pale carbon copies of his earlier, better and best-known work?"

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