It’s easy to lose a weekend in Madrid just browsing its inspiring art collections. This autumn, we’re making a beeline for the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, which shines a light on genres that are often under-represented elsewhere in the city, including 15th century portraits and 20th century avant-garde works. Especially noteworthy is its latest exhibition, The Impressionists and Photography, which reflects on the mutual influences between photography and painting in the latter part of 19th century France.
As well as exploring how photographers like Le Gray, Cuvelier, Nadar and Disdéri provided a stimulus for the work of Manet and Degas and vice versa, the exhibition also examines the debate between critics and artists sparked by the arrival of photography, a phenomenon which was initially greeted warily by many.
Curator Paloma Alarcó brings to life the artistic concerns shared by painters and photographers, exploring the symbiotic relationship between the two mediums. Impressionism was inspired by photography in terms of its scientific observation of light and its exploration of spontaneity and visual ambiguity. By contrast, the new Impressionist type of brushstroke led some photographers to look for ways of making their photographs less precise and more pictorial in effect. Several of the works exhibited here exemplify this dynamic, creating the sense that the painting stretches beyond the frame, a resource often used in photography too.
From 15 October 2019 to 26 January 2020.
Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Paseo del Prado, 8, 28014 Madrid, Spain