Dita Amory, Curator in Charge of the Robert Lehman Collection will discuss her recent exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Félix Vallotton: Painter of Disquiet which presents pivotal moments in the artist’s career as painter and printmaker through some 70 works of art. Félix Vallotton (1865-1925) created indelible imagery of fin-de-siècle Paris in painted portraits and interior narratives that pulse with psychological tension. Witness to the radical aesthetics that gripped Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Swiss-born and Paris-educated Vallotton is today recognized as a distinctive artist of his generation.
Born in Lausanne in 1865, Vallotton moved to Paris at the age of sixteen to pursue a career in art. Through the 1890s, he built his reputation as a wood engraver, contributing illustrations to avant-garde magazines and left-wing political journals, most notably “La Revue Blanche.” There he fraternized with the Nabi artists, especially Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard. Vallotton’s paintings are less easily classified. He shifts from early work in a highly realist mode, to symbolism, and abstraction in later years. Ultimately, many of his most powerful paintings relate very directly to his early years as a printmaker. Using flat passages of unnuanced color in spatially constrained interiors, one can only think of the woodcuts and Vallotton’s radical investigation of space and light using no more than a block of wood and printer’s ink. The exhibition should be a revelation to all