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© Museum Barberini
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Color and Light: The Neo-Impressionist Henri-Edmond Cross

November 17, 2018 – February 17, 2019

Henri-Edmond Cross (1856–1910) is widely considered a leading exponent of French Neo-Impressionism. Together with his friend and colleague Paul Signac, he discovered the Côte d’Azur for painting. Situated between the Impressionists around Claude Monet and the forerunners of Expressionism around Henri Matisse, his oeuvre marks a crucial step along the path toward color as an autonomous pictorial means and, by extension, toward abstraction. In Germany, he was celebrated early on as a pioneer of modernism. In collaboration with the Musée des impressionnismes in Giverny, the Museum Barberini is showing the first retrospective devoted to Cross at a German museum. Alongside his prominent role within the Neo-Impressionist movement, the exhibition examines his influence on later developments within the French avant-garde, illuminating Cross’s significance as a major pioneer of 20th-century painting.

Around 1900 Cross was regarded as one of the most important representatives of the French avant-garde and was known for his light-flooded depictions of the Riviera. The large-scale retrospective includes numerous Neo-Impressionist masterpieces from some of the world's most important museums, including loans from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen. They are complemented by selected key works from international private collections that are otherwise not accessible to the public.

Please note: The heirs of a French collector whose collection was looted during World War II filed a claim of ownership for the painting Regatta in Venice. The painting is on loan to the Museum Barberini from its current owner, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which is currently reviewing the matter. Both the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Museum Barberini regard all questions of rightful ownership with the utmost seriousness.

Background

The exhibition at the Museum Barberini is the first show devoted to this artist at a German museum. Approximately 20 years after the last Cross retrospective (Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai, 1998/99), it surveys the entirety of his artistic career, presenting his innovative handling of color and light in the wider context of the avant-garde of his time.

Background
Henri-Edmond Cross, Underneath the Cork Oaks, 1908, Hepama Collection

Henri-Edmond Cross, Underneath the Cork Oaks, 1908, Hepama Collection

The exhibition at the Museum Barberini is the first show devoted to this artist at a German museum. Approximately 20 years after the last Cross retrospective (Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai, 1998/99), it surveys the entirety of his artistic career, presenting his innovative handling of color and light in the wider context of the avant-garde of his time.

Color and Light: The Neo-Impressionist Henri-Edmond Cross

Henri-Edmond Cross (1856–1910) is widely considered a leading exponent of French Neo-Impressionism. Together with his friend and colleague Paul Signac, he discovered the Côte d’Azur for painting. Situated between the Impressionists around Claude Monet and the forerunners of Expressionism around Henri Matisse, his oeuvre marks a crucial step along the path toward color as an autonomous pictorial means and, by extension, toward abstraction. In Germany, he was celebrated early on as a pioneer of modernism. In collaboration with the Musée des impressionnismes in Giverny, the Museum Barberini is showing the first retrospective devoted to Cross at a German museum. Alongside his prominent role within the Neo-Impressionist movement, the exhibition examines his influence on later developments within the French avant-garde, illuminating Cross’s significance as a major pioneer of 20th-century painting.

Henri-Edmond Delacroix was born in Douai in northern France in 1856. His artistic formation began in 1866 with Carolus Duran, followed by lessons at the Écoles Académiques de Dessin et d’Architecture in Lille, as well as with the Parisian painters François Bonvin and Émile Dupont-Zipcy. Keen to preclude any associations with the famous painter Eugène Delacroix, he began exhibiting under the pseudonym of Cross in 1883. During the following year, he was among the founding members of the Salon des Indépendants, where he became acquainted with Paul Signac, and where he was represented prominently (with rare exceptions) until 1910. In the early 1890s, he began to experiment with the new painting technique known as Pointillism or Divisionism. Heralded by Georges Seurat, this method consisted in the juxtaposition of luminous colors applied in small, dotted brushstrokes. Cross’s early Neo-Impressionist paintings such as Bullfight (ca. 1891–92, private collection) or Hair (ca. 1892, Musée d’Orsay, Paris) may well be considered as an homage to the movement’s great originator. Decisive for the development of Cross’s oeuvre was his move to the French Riviera, whose natural beauty became his key source of inspiration. In 1891, he took a house on the shore in Cabasson, relocating slightly later to the coastal town of Saint-Clair. Although Cross kept an eye on the metropolitan art scene and maintained contact with his fellow Néos, his style evolved under these new living and working conditions: the dark, earthy colors of his early work were supplanted by a brighter palette and striking tonal contrasts. Characteristic of Cross’s works of this time are landscapes and genre paintings which reflect a romanticized, blissful view of rural life along the coastline. In his late works, he often endowed his natural idylls with allegorical or mythological overtones, ultimately reminiscent of an idealized Golden Age.

"I would like to paint happiness, the happy beings who men can be in a few centuries (?) when pure anarchy will be realized," he wrote to Signac in June 1893, inserting a question mark after "centuries." In a forward to Cross’s 1905 solo exhibition at the Galerie Druet in Paris, the Belgian poet Émile Verhaeren perceived his art as a "glorification of nature" as well as a "glorification of an inner vision" that he saw characterized by a "pantheistic ardor." Such reverberations of the idea of an earthly paradise are reflected in Cross’s depictions of the light-flooded Riviera, among them Beach at Saint-Clair (1901, private collection) and A Pine Wood (1906, private collection).

At the beginning of the 20th century, Cross was regarded as one of the most important representatives of French painting, and served as a model and mentor for aspiring avant-garde artists such as Henri Matisse and Albert Marquet, who maintained lively exchanges with him. During these years, Cross’s works were also regularly exhibited at national and international shows. In Germany, his paintings were frequently shown and avidly discussed, significantly contributing to his early reputation as a key player in the development of modern art. Among his most fervent admirers was the collector Count Harry Kessler, who purchased numerous works by the artist. Even before their counterparts in France, German museum founders and directors such as Karl Ernst Osthaus and Georg Swarzenski purchase works by Cross, among them the large-format canvas Afternoon in the Garden (1904, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main). The groundbreaking exhibition at the Sonderbund in Cologne in 1912 celebrated Cross as a leading figure of the French avant-garde, alongside Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent van Gogh.

The exhibition at the Museum Barberini is the first show devoted to this artist at a German museum. Approximately 20 years after the last Cross retrospective (Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai, 1998/99), it surveys the entirety of his artistic career, presenting his innovative handling of color and light in the wider context of the avant-garde of his time. At the same time, the exhibition sheds light on Cross’s fascination with the tenets of anarchism, exploring the sociopolitical thrust of his painted utopias. "Cross’s early reception in Germany was a decisive factor in our conception of this project. Many works that were in German hands at the beginning of the 20th century, or were shown in German exhibitions, are returning in the context of this retrospective," explains Ortrud Westheider, Director of the Museum Barberini. Daniel Zamani, curator of the exhibition in Potsdam, adds: "Many of the paintings listed in the catalogue raisonné of Cross’s works published in 1964 are either lost or in private collections. We are therefore thrilled to have won the support of so many private collectors. It is largely due to their generous support that we can present our public with a representative cross-section of Cross’s oeuvre, including many of his most ambitious Neo-Impressionist paintings."

Henri-Edmond Cross (1856-1910), Self-Portrait (Convalescent), um / ca. 1882-85, Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai, Inv.-Nr. 2758. © Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai

Henri-Edmond Cross (1856-1910), Self-Portrait (Convalescent), um / ca. 1882-85, Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai, Inv.-Nr. 2758. © Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai

Biography

Biography
Henri-Edmond Cross (1856–1910)

Henri-Edmond-Joseph Delacroix is born on 20 May 1856 in Douai in northern France. As early as 1866 he receives first lessons in drawing from the artist Carolus-Duran, one of the most celebrated portrait painters of his time. In 1878 he is admitted to study at the Écoles Académiques de Dessin et d’Architecture in Lille. Three years later, he is represented for the first time at the Salon des Artistes Français in Paris.

From 1883 onward he exhibits under the pseudonym of Henri Cross, from 1887 under that of Henri-Edmond Cross, an abbreviated English translation of Delacroix. In 1884 he is one of the founding members of the Société des Artistes Indépendants, an association of progressive artists to which Georges Seurat and Paul Signac also belong. In the mid-1880s, both painters become pioneers of the Neo-Impressionist technique, in which the surface of the paintings is created by juxtaposing luminous colors in pure hues. Due to the division of the painting layer into individual dots, the new technique quickly becomes known as divisionism or pointillism.

Cross joins the group of Neo-Impressionist painters in 1891, when he shows his first pointillist work, Madame Hector France, at the Salon des Indépendants. In the same year he moves to the Côte d’Azur, where he first settles in Cabasson and two years later in the coastal town of Saint-Clair. Around this time, the light-flooded landscape of the French Riviera becomes the core theme of his painting, in which he transfigures the Mediterranean region into a kind of earthly paradise. In addition to landscapes and genre paintings, he also works on compositions interwoven with mythical and allegorical echoes, reminiscent of the utopia of a new Golden Age.

As early as the mid-1890s, Cross is regarded as one of the most important representatives of Neo-Impressionism and, together with his colleague and close friend Signac, becomes a leading figure of the French avant-garde. In 1905 and 1907, the Parisian galleries Druet and Bernheim-Jeune dedicate first solo exhibitions to the artist. At this time Cross is known far beyond the borders of France. Especially in Germany, he is celebrated as one of the great pioneers of modernism.

On 16 May 1910, Cross dies of cancer at the age of 53. Already the following year, retrospectives dedicated to his memory and artistic legacy are held in Brussels and Paris.

Walk through the Exhibition

In a discussion curator Daniel Zamani and Lisa Zeitz, editor-in-chief WELTKUNST, take a closer look at the oeuvre of Henri-Edmond Cross and talk about the key role he played between the Impressionists and the forerunners of Expressionism.

In a discussion curator Daniel Zamani and Lisa Zeitz, editor-in-chief WELTKUNST, take a closer look at the oeuvre of Henri-Edmond Cross and talk about the key role he played between the Impressionists and the forerunners of Expressionism.

Press Echoes

Thomas W. Gaehtgens, Direktor Getty Research Institute: „Der Neoimpressionismus und die Maler, die diese Kunstrichtung Mitte der 1880er Jahre von Frankreich aus verbreiteten, haben noch keineswegs die Anerkennung erworben, die sie verdienen. Umso wichtiger sind Ausstellungen, die den Neoimpressionismus als eine in der Kunstgeschichte um 1900 wegweisende, neue ästhetische Richtung deutlicher ins Bewusstsein bringen. Die Präsentation des Œuvres eines seiner bedeutendsten Vertreter, Henri-Edmond Cross, bietet die Gelegenheit, nicht nur sein Werk zu entdecken, sondern sich darüber hinaus auch den Wandel der Kunstauffassung nach dem Impressionismus vor Augen zu führen.“

Florian Illies: „Es ist eine riesige Leistung vom Museum Barberini, diese Bilder zusammenzutragen … Ich bin ganz sicher, dass die Ausstellung einen großen Effekt haben wird, in den kunstgeschichtlichen Büchern über den Impressionismus wird der Name Cross jetzt wieder auftauchen.“

BLAU: „Eine Solopräsentation, wie sie das Potsdamer Museum Barberini zusammen mit dem Musée des Impressionismes in Giverny vorbereitet hat, gab es fürwahr noch nie. Und wenn man sie gesehen hat, kann man kann von einem grandiosen Werk erzählen, das wie frisch aus seiner Vergessenheit auftaucht. Und man kann von einem Künstler erzählen, der sich nach hundert Jahren vom Gruppenzwang befreit, in den er sich selbst begeben hat.“

Berliner Kurier: „Potsdam stellt den wunderbaren Neo-Impressionisten Henri Edmond Cross aus … es sind Bilder, die einen Staunen, ja fast glücklich machen“

Berliner Morgenpost: „Eine flirrende Welt aus Farben“

Berliner Zeitung: „Lichtbaden an der Côte d' Azur … Potsdams Barberini grüßt das Musée Giverny: Sendbote ist der Neo-Impressionist Henri-Edmond Cross“

BR2: „Wunderbare Gemälde sind zu entdecken ... absolut sensationell sind die Zeichnungen“

B.Z.: „Er wollte das Glück malen. Jetzt machen uns seine Bilder glücklich“

Der Tagesspiegel: „Wir tauchen ein in seine paradiesisch anmutende Mosaikwelt, die eine Ode auf die Natur, auf das Licht und die Farbe anstimmt. Unter dem sonnigen Himmel der Cote d’Azur fand Henri-Edmond Cross sein Glück“.

epd: „Die Retrospektive in Potsdam ermöglicht die längst überfällige Wiederbegegnung mit diesem Pionier der Moderne“

rbb Kulturradio: „Ein ausgesprochen interessantes Werk, das hier wieder in die Öffentlichkeit gebracht wird ... eine lohnende Wiederentdeckung“

rbb: „Ein Farbrausch“

PNN: „Für den vergessenen Maler, der einst zu den Leitfiguren der Avantgarde gehörte, wird wieder der Teppich ausgerollt. Die Nationalsozialisten vertrieben ihn in den 1930er Jahren aus den deutschen Museen, diffamierten ihn und seine Kollegen als „entartet“. Viele Cross’ Werke gelten als verschollen. „Die frühe deutsche Cross-Rezeption war ein wichtiger Ansatzpunkt für unsere Ausstellung. Wir wollen zeigen, welche Einschnitte der Krieg und der Nationalsozialismus gebracht haben“, sagte Museumsdirektorin Ortrud Westheider.“

PNN: „Leitfigur der Avantgarde, von den Nazis verfemt. Kurator Daniel Zamani spricht im PNN-Interview über Henri-Edmond Cross“ (Link)

Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung: „Cross war einer der großen Pioniere der Malerei des 20. Jahrhunderts. Seine frühe Rezeption in Deutschland war für uns ein entscheidender Aspekt bei der Umsetzung dieses Projekts. Viele Werke, die sich zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts in deutschem Besitz befanden oder auf Ausstellungen in Deutschland gezeigt wurden, kehren nun im Rahmen der Retrospektive hierher zurück.“ – Ortrud Westheider, Direktorin Museum Barberini, im Interview mit der MAZ

tip: „Das Barberini überzeugt mit dieser Wiederentdeckung und einmal mehr mit seinem intelligenten Programm, das neben Publikumserfolgen wie der Gerhard Richter-Ausstellung auch für Entdeckungen gut ist“

Weltkunst: „Vor allem in Deutschland fand der Maler Henri-Edmond Cross einst viele Bewunderer, doch dann geriet er in Vergessenheit … Dem Museum Barberini kommt das Verdienst zu, diese eklatante Bildungslücke mit einer im wahrsten Sinne epochalen Schau zu schließen: Es ist, 108 Jahre nach seinem Tod, die erste Einzelaus- stellung dieses Künstlers hierzulande“

Catalogue
Henri-Edmond Cross: Color and Light

On the exhibition Color and Light: The Neo-Impressionist Henri-Edmond Cross a catalogue has been published in the Prestel Verlag by Frederic Frank, Marina Ferretti Bocquillon, Ortrud Westheider and Michael Philipp.

With contributions by Raphael Dupouy, Marina Ferretti Bocquillon, Thomas W. Gaehtgens, Annette Haudiquet, Monique Nonne, Valérie Reis, Richard Thomson, Daniel Zamani.

Issue in the museum shop € 29.95
bookstore edition € 39.00

Buy the Catalogue (english issue)

© Prestel Verlag

© Prestel Verlag

Henri-Edmond Cross: Color and Light

On the exhibition Color and Light: The Neo-Impressionist Henri-Edmond Cross a catalogue has been published in the Prestel Verlag by Frederic Frank, Marina Ferretti Bocquillon, Ortrud Westheider and Michael Philipp.

With contributions by Raphael Dupouy, Marina Ferretti Bocquillon, Thomas W. Gaehtgens, Annette Haudiquet, Monique Nonne, Valérie Reis, Richard Thomson, Daniel Zamani.

Issue in the museum shop € 29.95
bookstore edition € 39.00

© Prestel Verlag

© Prestel Verlag

Buy the Catalogue (english issue)

Change of Perspective
Podcast
Florian Illies talking with Christoph Amend

In November 2018, journalist and book author Florian Illies discussed the seductive power of art with Christoph Amend, editor-in-chief of ZEITmagazin and publisher of WELTKUNST, at the Barberini Museum on the occasion of the Cross retrospective. What does (good) art do to us? When and why does art touch us? Which works accompany us throughout our lives? You can listen to the conversation in our Barberini Podcast series Change of Perspective.

Florian Illies talking with Christoph Amend

In November 2018, journalist and book author Florian Illies discussed the seductive power of art with Christoph Amend, editor-in-chief of ZEITmagazin and publisher of WELTKUNST, at the Barberini Museum on the occasion of the Cross retrospective. What does (good) art do to us? When and why does art touch us? Which works accompany us throughout our lives? You can listen to the conversation in our Barberini Podcast series Change of Perspective.

Videos

A symposium prepared the themes of the exhibition in the run-up to the cross-retrospective. The lectures of the symposium on Cross's influence on the avant-garde, his transfiguration of the Côte d'Azur, its reception in Germany, and his graphic work can be found in the exhibition catalogue. Short interviews and statements by international experts and authors can also be found here.

A symposium prepared the themes of the exhibition in the run-up to the cross-retrospective. The lectures of the symposium on Cross's influence on the avant-garde, his transfiguration of the Côte d'Azur, its reception in Germany, and his graphic work can be found in the exhibition catalogue. Short interviews and statements by international experts and authors can also be found here.

Daniel Zamani about Cross and Neoimpressionism
Daniel Zamani on Cross’ Painting Method and his Glorification of the Côte d’Azur
Richard Thomson about Cross‘ Relationship to Anarchism
Daniel Zamani about Cross’ Oeuvre in Germany at the Beginning of the 20th Century
Annette Haudiquet about Cross’ Drawings and Watercolors
Marina Ferretti Bocquillon about Cross’ Influence on the Avant-Garde