Saturday, July 25, 2009

Drawing Acquisitions at the Getty

There are virtually no examples of pontillism in Los Angeles. The best example debuts in the Getty's upcoming drawing show, "Capturing Nature's Beauty: Three Centuries of French Landscapes." It's a recently acquired watercolor, "The Banks of the Marne at Dawn," by the relatively obscure Albert Dubois-Pillet, a friend of Seurat's and early adopter of neoimpressionism. Dubois-Pillet's stock rose with the Musée d'Orsay's 2005 survey of pontillism, in which some critics felt he was a surprise star. The Getty drawing is a variant of a Musée d'Orsay painting, probably the artist's most visible. It replaces the gray sky with orange and abstracts the skyline, suggesting that it was created later as an independent work. Dubois-Pillet was an artist-soldier, a difficult hyphenate reflected in his name. He added Pillet, his mother's maiden name, to his signature to conceal his defiance of army orders to stop exhibiting. Like Seurat, Dubois-Pillet died young, and his works are rare.
The "French Landscapes" show also includes a watercolor of a volcano by the writer George Sand (a rare 2009 purchase, given the Getty's strict acquistions diet). Another literary buy is a Gustave Doré design for one of his illustrations to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

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