Impressionism: The Art of Landscape

Prestel. Mar. 2017. 240p. ed. by Ortrud Westheider & Michael Philipp. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9783791356280. $49.95. FINE ARTS
This volume accompanies an inaugural exhibition at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany, featuring many landscapes from the collection of Hasso Plattner, the museum's founder. Fourteen scholarly essays emphasize impressionism's connections to science and modern industrial Europe alongside its depictions of seascapes and snowscapes. The highly academic text often needs streamlining, and is unevenly copyedited, marred by errors even where translation is not a factor (all but three of the essays were originally written in German). The catalog's design stints on white space, resulting in large, almost unbroken blocks of text. These flaws contribute to a perplexing reading experience. For the exhibition, a photographer captured modern views of sites depicted in several paintings, but here they are squeezed to the outer edge of a two-page spread dominated by a map of Europe and captioned, "Photographies from the year 2016 showing the current views of the motifs of the impressionist paintings." Still, the exhibition reaches well beyond the greatest hits of impressionism with new scholarly perspectives and an extensive multilingual bibliography.
VERDICT A quirky volume best suited to academic and museum libraries with deep collections on 19th-century Europe.
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