French Friday at the Figge Art Museum -- December 28.

Friday, December 28, 5 p.m.

Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second Street, Davenport IA

Visitors to Davenport's Figge Art Museum can not only enjoy a guided tour and Q&A through the halls of the exhibition French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850 – 1950, but also genuine French cuisine courtesy of the venue's seasoned chefs in the December 28 event French Friday, an art-and-food pairing designed to make museum guests of all ages shout “C'est magnifique!

Divided by subject into four themes – Landscape, Still Life, Portraits and Figures, and the Nude – French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850 – 1950 shows how the basic conception of artmaking changed over the course of a century. It begins with the academic painters such as Jean-Léon Gérôme and William-Adolphe Bouguereau, whose meticulous realism and traditional subjects conformed to the artistic canons of the 19th Century. It includes the generation of painters such as Jean-François Millet and Eugène Boudin, who used looser brushwork to depict less conventional subjects, among them the beaches of Normandy and peasants and their flocks in the environs of Paris. Meanwhile, the Impressionists, led by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, and Ėdouard Manet, exploded the conventions of both subject matter and style, depicting everyday scenes with bright color and expressive brushstrokes. While their work was initially met with hostility and scorn, they are now among the best-known artists of all time.

The generation that followed the Impressionists pushed the boundaries of art even further, allowing color, form, and brushstroke to take precedence over subject matter as the focus of their art. With works by Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, Marc Chagall, and many others who were drawn to Paris in the early 20th Century, the Figge's French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850 – 1950 exhibition shows how expressionist and non-objective art evolved from the experiments of the 19th Century. In addition, works by Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, and other artists show how the freeing of form in painting extended into sculpture as well.

The French Friday event on December 28 will begin at 5 p.m. with the elegant “French Modern Dinner,” with Figge docents available to answer questions in the exhibition from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and a tour of French Moderns taking place at 7 p.m. Entrance to the event is free with $4-7 museum admission, with seats for the French dinner available for $48 apiece, and more information and reservations are available by calling (563)326-7804 or visiting FiggeArtMuseum.org.

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