French students ‘visite des impressionnistes’

Megan Ylagan, AP Lit Set 7

On Friday, January 7, Mrs. Clara Sager took her French students from grades 9-12 on a field trip to St. Petersburg Museum of Art to visit the exhibit of impressionists. There, students split up into groups and set out on a tour of the museum to see the French and American impressionists’ artwork.

Seniors had an opportunity to put their French language skills into action in conversing with their guide, who had lived in France for four years.  Through the exhibition and discussions , students enriched their knowledge about France as well as attain new knowledge about the American and French impressionists.
The tour guides explained a brief history of each artist and the inspiration for his or her  work, including how impressionists used light brush strokes to create the technique “plein air,” which means “in the open air,” to illustrate outdoor paintings. Because of the the meticulous hand movements this technique requires, impressionists often  took several years to perfect their works. From Monet’s water lilies to Degas’s dancing ballerinas, AHN French students experienced a wide variety of artists, styles and subjects.

Seniors India Hayes and Margaret Young, who both currently take AP French, were enthusiastic in their reactions to their experience at the museum in a recent interview.

Q: What was your favorite part about the St. Pete Museum of Art?

India: The St. Pete Museum of Art was really great because it had a wide variety of art. There were both French and American impressionist artists shown, and I really liked that aspect.

Margaret: My favorite part about the museum  is its comprehensive art collection, extending from antiquity to the present.
Q: How did you hear about this exhibit?

India: I’d heard about the museum before, but it was our French teacher, Mrs. Sager, who really told us about the exhibit and what it had to offer.

Q: Who is your favorite French Impressionist? Why?

India: If I had to choose one, I would say my favorite is Degas. All of his paintings are beautiful and demonstrate what impressionism is all about.

Margaret: My favorite French Impressionist is Pierre-Auguste Renoir. I love how his paintings exude a sense of celebration for life and beauty.

Q: Which painting is your favorite? Why?

India: I don’t really think I could choose a favorite! I loved all of the London series by Monet, especially the one depicting the Parliament building on a foggy morning. Monet’s knowledge of paint and how to create different environmental conditions is incredible, and this particular painting really showcases his talent.
Margaret: My favorite painting of his is “La Danse à la Campagne”  because of the affectionate embrace and the emphasis placed on the woman’s palpable joy in the midst of a dance enjoying summer leisure.

Q: Have you heard of most of the French Impressionists who were previewed there?

India: I had heard of most of the impressionists, but there were a few who  were unfamiliar to me.

Q: What was one thing that you learned during the tour of the exhibit?

India: One thing I learned is that some of the paintings done by the impressionists were created to show off the artists’ talent because it was difficult for them at the time to get their paintings exhibited  because of controversy over their unique styles and technique .

 Margaret: I learned that as contemporary artists observed and experienced all of these changes taking place during the Industrial Revolution, some felt that rapid industrialization was sapping society of its purity and strength. In order to restore the integrity they saw in decline, they traveled to the serene, untouched forests and quietly settled places to find their subjects. And thus began Impressionism.

Q: Would you go back to see the Latin American exhibit?

India: I would love to see the Latin American exhibit, and  I hope to return to see it when it’s open!

Margaret: I will most definitely go back to see the Latin American exhibit. It is a wonderful museum! I most definitely recommend it.