GREENWICH, Conn. – “Electric Paris” opens Friday, May 13, at The Bruce Museum in Greenwich and runs through Nov. 6.
Paris had been known as the City of Light long before the widespread use of gaslight and electricity.
The name arose during the Enlightenment, when philosophers made Paris a center of ideas and of metaphorical illumination. By the mid-19th century, the epithet became associated with the city’s adoption of artificial lighting: in the 1840s and 1850s, gas lamps were first widely installed, while electric versions began to proliferate by the end of the 1870s.
Even as rivals, including Berlin, London, New York, and Chicago, increased the quantity of light in their rapidly electrified cities, Paris managed to maintain its reputation because of the beauty of its illuminations. Light remained and remains to this day a key signature of the French capital.
“Electric Paris” is the first exhibition to explore the ways in which artists responded to older oil and gas lamps and the newer electric lighting that began to supplant them.
Approximately 50 works by such artists as Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jean Béraud, James Tissot, Charles Marville, Childe Hassam, Charles Courtney Curran, Alfred Maurer and Maurice Prendergast, among others, will be on view.
Each of the exhibition’s four sections – “Nocturnes,” “Lamplit Interiors,” “Street Light” and “In and Out of the Spotlight” – reveals the prominent role of artificial illumination in the art of the period.
Electric Paris at the Bruce Museum is curated by Margarita Karasoulis. It's an expanded version of an exhibition first organized by the Clark Art Institute in 2013, curated by S. Hollis Clayson, who is exhibition adviser to this exhibition.
Electric Paris is on view in conjunction with “Electricity,” a complementary exhibition in the Science Gallery.
Click here for a full list of programs.
The Bruce Museum is at 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich.