|SDMA own Bouguereau|
Bouguereau & America
The French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau created 822 paintings in his lifetime (1825 to 1905). On show at the San Diego Museum of art is about 40 of these works by a favorite artist of the current SDMA director Maruja Baldwin Executive Director Roxana Velásquez.
It is hard to put yourself into the cultural decades when Bouguereau enjoyed his most ardent support both in France and the USA. In his own words, he was painting pictures of lovely nudes and cupid because that is what the buying public wanted. These are the works that we often see on the chocolate boxes of Victorian England and the Gilded Age in the Americas. As times changed, he did not alter his style and suffered accordingly. But his skill as a photo-realist would have been appreciated again if he had lived in the 60th and it is not hard to see him as a surrealist either. His fantasy life was brought to life in his works which were allegorical and mythological and classical.
The loveliness of his technique does wear thin as one sees painting after painting in this show. The nude women depicted are not really sexy, but out of context they could be soft porn which might have been an attraction in the stately drawing rooms of the rich. They seem to exploit their subjects now and you wonder if pedophiles might have been attracted to all the hairless, naked young subjects.
A perfect rendition of a dress suitable for Princess Diane, a lovely hand or foot, a show stopping Madonna and child, make this a worthy show for today's audience. And the SDMA is not ignorant of the sales potential for these images and related french goodies for sale at the end of the exhibition space. The VIP reception was, as always, a feast for the senses. The "Strike a Pose" room was a fun way for this show to have an interactive component...although stripping was not in any way encouraged!
The exhibition is co-organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum and The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art/ Exhibition is showing at SDMA from Nov 9, 2019 to March 15, 2020.