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Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity (Art Institute of Chicago) [Hardcover]

Gloria Groom
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Oct 2012 Art Institute of Chicago
This volume is the first to explore fashion as a critical aspect of modernity, one that paralleled and many times converged with the development of Impressionism, starting in the 1860s and continuing through the next two decades, when fashion attracted the foremost writers and artists of the day. Although they have depicted fashionable subjects throughout history, for many artists and writers, including Charles Baudelaire, Stephane Mallarme, Emile Zola, Gustave Caillebotte, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, fashion became integral to the search for new literary and visual expression. In a series of essays that examine fashion and its social, cultural, and artistic context during some of the most important years of the Impressionist era - years that also gave birth to the modern fashion industry - a group of fifteen scholars, drawn from five interdisciplinary fields, examine approximately 140 Impressionist-era artworks, including those by dedicated fashion portraitists, in light of the rise of the department store, new working methods for designing clothing, and new social and technological changes that led to the democratization of fashion and, simultaneously, its ascendance as a vehicle for modernity.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (5 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300184514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300184518
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 23.5 x 31.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 512,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Readers will be swept along by the book's lavish images . . . this is the rare exhibition catalogue that is not only as good as being there, but even better."--Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, "Ornament Magazine"--Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell "Ornament Magazine "

About the Author

Gloria Groom is the David and Mary Winton Green Curator of Nineteenth-Century European Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uniform Light Source 9 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a book about some of the aims and methods of Parisian painters in the late 1800s. It particularly focuses on their notions of modernity and how this influences their work. One idea considered particularly modern was a view of life as comprised of transitory moments and movements. This view, probably influenced by the rise of photography, is at the root of the emphasis in the works on fashion and public spaces. The fashions depicted are full of coded symbolism, due to the complexity of rules governing what could be worn, by whom, and at what time and place. The book is erudite and full of insight. The reproductions are universally wonderful.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous! 6 Feb 2013
By Chatty1
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having been to the Impressionism exhibit in Paris this was a wonderful book to read and reflect on.
Highly recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book or catalogue 22 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very well put together , full of excellent color plates, a joy! A very good reminder of the exhibition which was very crowded so this is a bonus.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fashion on Parade: Dressing up for the Impressionists 31 Dec 2012
By Kenneth Hughes - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition of the same name at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris until January 2013 and which will then be at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (February to May) and finally at the Art Institute of Chicago (June to September), its primary organizer. While acknowledging the work of previous scholars who have examined the place of clothing in nineteenth-century culture, the museum directors tell us that this is the first major exhibition to focus on the role of fashion in the paintings of the Impressionists and their contemporaries. The catalogue is a big book (336 large pages) with reproductions of eighty major figure paintings and some sixty additional canvases, pictures of fashion plates, photographs of period costumes and accessories and of shops and the new department stores, caricatures and popular prints, etc., etc.,--the jacket text says there are 478 color illustrations. Recognized experts from the fields of art history, photography, fashion studies, and literature present thirteen essays on topics ranging from "Fashion en Plain Air" and "Fashion and Intimate Portraits" to "Shops versus Department Stores" and "Fashion and the Press"--i.e., some of the essays are quite directly related to painting while others deal with more tangential aspects of the fashion industry. Apparently that is as it should be, for if there is one thing the catalogue makes clear, it is that the entire complex of fashion--from the manufacture of textiles to the new synthetic dyes used to color them to the designers thinking up new styles to the seamstresses making them to the advertising people promoting them to the shop girls selling them to the women wearing them and the painters painting the women wearing them--all of this was of a piece, and it was all one comprehensive and self-conscious enterprise under the emblem of modernity. Not only was fashion important to the Impressionists, it was central to their artistic agenda: "The latest fashion," Manet himself declared, "is absolutely necessary for a painter. It's what matters most" (243). And so Manet accompanied Berthe Morisot on her shopping trips, as Degas did the rounds of the milliners' boutiques with Mary Cassatt, and Renoir made his collection of hats--all these practical activities encouraged by the preoccupations of the best and brightest cultural theorists and critics of the time--Baudelaire, Mallarme, Theophile Gautier, the Goncourts, Zola--all of whom were deeply concerned with the coincidence of costume and character in their society and wrote extensively about it.

Even though, just a year ago, Colin Bailey called attention to Renoir's use of fashion catalogues and magazine advertisements to make sure his models were up to date (in "Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting"; see the review on this website), I for one had never paid much attention to this aspect of the paintings. But from this book we learn that we should, because it modulates our understanding of them. It's not stated so bluntly anywhere in the essays, but an implicit example of a shift in focus might be Monet's wonderful "Women in the Garden" from 1866 (the jacket illustration is a detail of this painting): whereas before one might have viewed it naively as four women wearing magnificent summer dresses, we can now understand that it is at least as much a painting of four great dresses clothing the women (the dresses representing different styles popular in 1866, as illustrated in the fashion plates accompanying the discussion of the painting), a realization that adds another dimension of meaning to the work. Most of the topical discussions are followed in this way by a close analysis of a single painting, thus exemplifying the general with the specific. In addition, there is a nine-page compendium of "Key Dates in Fashion and Commerce, 1851-89," a twenty-page checklist of the exhibition in chronological order, and a couple of pages of fashion plates and exemplary "cartes de visite" with fashion photographs. The volume concludes with a selected bibliography and a comprehensive index. It is obvious that a great deal of thought and meticulous planning went into the design of this exhibition and beautifully produced catalogue, and the result is a greatly stimulating and entertaining exposure to an aspect of Impressionist painting that had previously been underappreciated. The book is filled with information and insights, and I recommended it highly to anyone interested in fashion or painting and society at the end of the nineteenth century.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painting and Fashion in Impressionist Paris 26 April 2013
By Elliot Silvera - Published on
This beautiful book which explores the influence of fashion in impressionist painting is a catalogue of an exhibit which I just saw and loved at the Metropolitan Museum. The book contains beautiful reproductions of over eighty major paintings from the early 1860s to late 1880s as well as several prints and fashion plates, and representive examples of women's and men's clothing and accessories. Complementing the works are a series of interdisciplinary essays written by art, fashion, photography, literary, and architectural historians. They discuss a wide range of topics including the importance of fashion trends in portrait and plein air paintings, the fashion making process, the Parisian cityscape and lifestyle, the changing retail environment, fashion and the press, and the rise in popularity in fashion photography. There is even a chapter devoted to male subject matter which is often neglected in most impressionist art literature. Scattered throughout are complete commentaries on some of the most important paintings in the exhibition including Claude Monet's "Camille" and "Women in the Garden", Edouard Manet's "La Parisienne" and "Nana", Edgar Degas's " The Millinery Shop", Gustave Caillebotte's "Paris Street;Rainy Day ", James Tissot's "The Circle of the Rue Royale", and Auguste Renoir's "Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children." The catalogue also highlights masterworks by Mary Cassatt("In the Loge"), James McNeill Whistler("Portrait of Theodore Duret"), Berthe Morisot("The Sisters"), Frederic Bazille ("Family Reunion"), Georges Seurat(" A Sunday on the Grande Jatte"), Albert Bartholome("In the Conservatory"),and Charles Carolus-Duran("The Lady With the Glove"). At the end of the book, there is a brief fashion and commerce history chronology and a checklist with thumbnail illustrations of all the exhibited works including some which were unfortunately not part of the catalogue. I found the colorplates clearly photographed and the well written text very informative. If you have a strong interest in reading about nineteenth century French art, fashion, and society, the catalogue will be a great addition to your library. However, because of the detailed text, it isn't recommended for someone who just wants a picture book of impressionist masterpieces.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fashion "matters most," said Manet 29 Mar 2013
By Patto - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is quite an education on the influence of contemporary fashion on Impressionist art. The significance of fashion was surprisingly deep in the late nineteenth century.

Journalists of the era were fond of discussing "modern life." The pompous history paintings beloved of the art establishment were slowly giving way to vibrant paintings of men and women in the present moment, dressed appropriately for life in and around Paris, the capitol of modernity. Everyday life became aestheticized.

This very well written book helps us look at impressionist art with the eyes of nineteenth-century viewers. It teaches us to read the clues in dress that reveal the fashionability, social status, and even the moral character of the models in portraits and genre scenes.

We discover that the Impressionists were steeped in fashion. For example, Monet married a couturier. Degas liked going shopping with Mary Cassatt and painted scenes in millinery shops for some thirty years. Manet, too, had a keen interest in shopping with women friends. Renoir's father was a tailor, his mother a seamstress, his sister a dressmaker. The Impressionists' passion for textiles, trims and hats is fully explored. Many fun facts emerge about the artists...

The book also discusses things like the shock value of the corset in painting; the influence of fashion illustrations on Impressionist art; the significance of portraits of women at home in dressing gowns; the vogue for Japanese objects in home décor, as shown in paintings; and the impact of Baron Houssmann's new city planning on social interactions and street fashion, as depicted in art.

In the back of the book is a chronology of key dates in fashion, in case you want to know when department stores arose in Paris, when designer branding emerged, or when the bustle reached its apogee.

I loved this book, with its abundance of gorgeous reproductions and engaging scholarship. It has fired my desire to visit the exhibit at the Met.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book on a beautifully well done exhibit 16 Aug 2013
By Discriminating Reader - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've seen this exhibit twice now and will see it at least once more while I can (in Chicago). This exhibit was a brilliant idea and masterfully executed. It is so amazing to see the dresses with the paintings. It certainly gave me a better understanding of the relationship of fashion to art in that time period. If you can't see the exhibit the book is profusely illustrated and well written. I haven't finished all of it but I have enjoyed every minute so far.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Parallel History 26 Mar 2013
By artfulusedbooks - Published on
This beautiful book is the catalogue of the exhibition that appeared at 3 locations: Musee d'Orsay, Paris, Sept. 25, 2012-Jan. 20, 2013; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Feb. 26-May 27, 2013; & The Art Institute of Chicago, June 26-Sept. 22, 2013.

I used to look at an Impressionist painting of an elegantly-dressed woman and think, "I'll bet there is an interesting story to be told about those clothes." This book tells that story. The essays don't overthrow the traditional history of French Impressionism; they ADD a wealth of information that enriches every figure painting. The book provides a complex, parallel history to the history we already know.

Here is a list of the chapters.
Chapter 1 - "The Rise & Role of Fashion in French 19th-Century Painting" by Gary Tinterow, and "Edouard Manet, `Young Lady in 1866'" by Gary Tinterow.
Chapter 2 - "The Social Network of Fashion" by Gloria Groom, and "Claude Monet: `Camille'" by Gloria Groom.
Chapter 3 - "Writing Fashion from Balzac to Mallarme" by Heidi Brevik-Zender.
Chapter 4 - "Who Creates Fashion?" by Francoise Tetart-Vittu, and "Edouard Manet: `The Parisienne'" by Francoise Tetart-Vittu.
Chapter 5 - "Fashion en Plein Air" by Birgit Haase, and "Claude Monet: `Women in the Garden'" by Birgit Haase.
Chapter 6 - "Fashion & Intimate Portraits" by Justine de Young, and "'Edouard Manet: `Nana'" by Valerie Steele.
Chapter 7 - "An Ideal of Virile Urbanity" by Philippe Thiebaut, and "James Tissot: `The Circle of the Rue Royale'" by Guy Cogeval & Stephane Guegan.
Chapter 8 - "Looking Through, Across, & Up: The Architectural Aesthetics of the Paris Street" by David van Zanten.
Chapter 9 - "Spaces of Modernity" by Gloria Groom, and "Gustave Caillebotte: `Paris Street; Rainy Day'" by Aileen Ribeiro.
Chapter 10 - "Photography, Fashion, & the Cult of Appearances" by Elizabeth Anne McCauley.
Chapter 11 - "Shops versus Department Stores" by Francoise Tetart-Vittu, and "Edgar Degas: `The Millinery Shop'" by Gloria Groom.
Chapter 12 - "Fashion & the Press" by Justine de Young, and "Pierre-Auguste Renoir: `Madame Georges Charpentier & Her Children'" by Sylvie Patry.
Chapter 13 - "Changing Silhouettes" by Helen Burnham.
"Key Dates in Fashion & Commerce, 1851-1889" [with small illus.] by Francoise Tetart-Vittu & Gloria Groom.
"Checklist of the Exhibition" [with small color illus.].
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