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Rebels, Punks, and Misfits



Written by Matthew Patterson, Visitor Services Associate

“If you keep doing whatever it is you wanna do, someday somebody’s gonna call you a punk” – Iggy Pop

Although Iggy was almost certainly not referring to Monet’s Water Lilies his observation still rings true when considering the Impressionists, their body of work, and the legacy they left behind.  Some visitors to our exhibition Impressionism and Post-Impressionism from the High Museum of Art might wonder how anyone could call Monet a misfit or Pissarro a punk but let’s examine the evidence.

During the time that Impressionism was emerging there was only one “correct” way of making Art in France and it was rigorously upheld by the Academie de Beaux Arts.  What could be more rebellious than making work that flew in the face of the established order the way these artists did?  Speaking of the Academie, It was their severe refusal of Edouard Manet’s Le dejeuner sur l’herbe which brought about the exhibition of his work and others in the Salon des Refuses, a fitting home for those considered “misfits”.

The idea of Impressionist painters as punks isn’t much of a stretch either.  Both support a do-it-yourself type of mentality, organizing themselves outside the mainstream.  Both explore the transgressive side of life.  And both celebrate the working class and the role of the common man.

The next time you’re visiting The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens be sure to check out the show and see for yourself why Renoir was rebel, Monet was a Misfit, and Pissarro was a Punk.

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