French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston opens in Melbourne

Reading Time: 15 minutes

After a delayed opening due to Melbourne’s lockdown, the French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston exhibition opened last Friday 25 June 2021. We had a chat to Meg Slater, one of the NGV curators working on this exhibition while the exhibition was being installed. You can find ticket details for French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston at the end of the article.

French impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
*See bottom of article for image info and credits

 

About Meg

Portrait of Meg Slater, Curator of International Exhibition Projects, NGV in French Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston at NGV International, Melbourne from 25 June – 3 October 2021. Photo: Eugene Hyland

Meg Slater, you’re the Assistant Curator of international exhibition projects at the NGV and of the Winter Masterpieces 2021 exhibition French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. What does the role entail?

Well, it’s difficult, actually. Whenever anyone asks me what I do on a day-to-day basis, I find it very hard to answer because it changes so much. My boss is Miranda Wallace, the senior curator within the department, it’s just the two of us and a little bit of an anomaly within the broader curatorial department in that we don’t have a collection area that we focus on. A lot of the other curators at the NGV are responsible for, say, the Indigenous art collection or the Australian art collection or bringing works into the permanent collection and displaying those works.

 

Whereas Miranda and I are a lot more familiar with international collections because we work primarily on the temporary exhibitions that are presented on the NGV’s ground floor.  The Melbourne Winter Masterpieces shows, the big summer exhibitions, we’re usually working on those.

 

We’re constantly across varying subject matter from, for example, the Haring/Basquiat exhibition [Keith Haring / Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines] through to this French Impressionism show to Alexander Calder [the Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor exhibition]. We’re constantly jumping across geographies and between time periods. That is it on a very broad level.

 

On a day to day, I’m supporting Miranda and the department. I could be doing anything from writing an essay for an exhibition publication to compiling an exhibition checklist to writing a loan request to a lender that we want a work from for the upcoming exhibition. It’s really anything really involved in the preparation and development of our major international shows. And at the moment I’m running between my desk and the gallery space where French impressionism will be and is currently being installed. So that’s very exciting.

Image: Tom Ross

 

What drew you to the art world?

In high school, I remember I studied visual art and I wasn’t much good at making it but I always loved the ideas behind how art was made and art history and understanding a little more how different moments in art belong to a much broader history. I think very early on, I decided that I was more interested in the thinking behind and “How can these objects be interpreted and displayed?” It wasn’t even necessarily curating from the outset. I just had an interest in the concepts behind artworks. Then at university, I studied art history in Queensland.

 

Is that where you’re from originally?

Yeah, I’m from Brisbane.  I moved here for the job – I think when I first started studying art galleries seemed like these very abstract things where all of this stuff happens that you didn’t really know how. We were learning a lot about the theory at my university, but not so much about well how do you get from A to B in an art gallery?

 

I ended up putting my hand up for, firstly some internships in Queensland and the Queensland Art Gallery. But then I was really lucky to be able to do a couple of placements, one in London and one in New York. I did a lot of internships, which is really useful to understand what I was interested in and not just in curatorial, I did some in public programs and exhibitions management and curatorial. I think that really helped me a lot to understand that I wanted to work in a bigger institution and I actually interned for my boss, which is often the path for a lot of people who end up working here, and then a job became available and I moved here – I think this is my fourth year at the gallery.

 

So how long were you in London and New York for?

I was in London for about five or six months and I was doing an internship, not full time, whereas in New York, I was doing a study abroad program for my university and I managed to line up an internship at the same time. I did an internship at the Victoria and Albert Museum and then, after I graduated from my undergrad, I applied to a whole bunch of summer cycle internships in New York and I did one at the Brooklyn Museum.

 

So, you’ve definitely seen different art forms and different international museums and how they do things.

Yeah, it is really interesting because everyone does things are differently.

 

Image: Tom Ross

 

Planning an exhibition during COVID-19

How has putting on an exhibition like the French impressionists differed to how it would have been done pre COVID?

I can really only more meaningfully speak to the curatorial role in that process. It’s interesting because since earlier this year, we’ve been able to come back into the office and that has been nice because there was distance between you and the processes that we would usually use to develop these kinds of big shows.

 

It’s as simple as having an exhibition model that is built and small-scale art works that you can move around and even just people being in the same room to think about how artwork should be placed and what kind of connections we want to draw out. What’s the exhibition design going to look like? We had those meetings virtually, but it is actually quite profound how much of a difference it makes when you’re not physically with those people.

 

I think the biggest change I’ve noticed is just the shift from last year to all of us now being back on site again and even just being in the same space with amazing artworks coming in. It was a different process in that it was digital. I honestly think that’s the simplest way to say it. Everything that is usually quite hands on and physically together was managed in a digital way, which is very different for curators working on exhibitions like this one.

Pierre Auguste Renoir
French 1841–1919
Dance at Bougival 1883
oil on canvas
181.9 x 98.1 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Picture Fund
Photography © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved

 

Yeah, definitely. And in terms of transporting the works… I imagine there are less flights coming in from the States, for example. From everywhere, but from the States as well.

It’s just extra measures like having people stationed at different points where planes have to land and refuel and having someone there to check that the works are ok and then have to go onto another plane. So, it was just a lot of additional logistical things to think through. And you know what if that plane is cancelled, what’s plan B? I think it was just a lot of additional planning, which our incredible registrars have done and has resulted in all of the works arriving safely.

 

And I imagine that you probably only send like one or two works per plane because you don’t want something to happen to the plane and lose all of the works. I imagine it’s quite complicated.

To be honest, I’m not sure but it is along those lines.  We have three of the wonderful MFA Boston staff out here at the moment, who came out to help us with the install and acting as the carers for those works while they’re out here for the installation period anyway.

 

I did wonder whether without borders being quite closed at the moment, whether that was a possibility.

They all did the quarantine period, which was really generous of them to do. I know it’s a requirement, but still it’s wonderful that they signed up for it and were willing to do it. I know we’d do it if the situations were reversed as well. But it’s just really special because there are a lot of roadblocks that potentially could have gotten in that way. And it’s just really nice to see the show coming together the way that it is, in the circumstances.

 

A little bit more about you and then a little bit more about the exhibition. What’s your favourite art form?

It’s really difficult honestly, because we’re working across so many shows and I also study as well. And I’m constantly reading different things so that can change on a day-to-day basis. It’s just the nature of the job.

 

I think quite broadly, I’m very interested in exhibitions and artists revisiting the narratives that we know in art history and broadening them and telling more stories, stories that may have originally been left out for many reasons. For example, I’m one of the curators working on the Queer exhibition opening at the end of the year, which is a collection exhibition. And it’s been a really interesting opportunity to be able to delve into the collection and apply a queer lens to works that have probably never been viewed that way and to explore these histories that have always been there, that haven’t necessarily been presented to audiences. I’m particularly interested in queer histories at the moment, particularly with that exhibition on the horizon. And it’s a real personal endeavour for myself and for the other four curators working on that show as well. So, I guess that would be my main area of interest.

 

Also, I am fascinated by international exhibitions and how they are presented in big galleries, like this one as well. And I’ve loved every project that my boss, Miranda and I have worked on so, it’s tricky. Right now I’m in love, for example, with Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, two of the female impressionists who we have wonderful works by in this exhibition, because I’ve been doing so much reading into their practice and how they worked. And I think honestly, based on what I’m reading and based on whatever I’m researching, it really influences the people who stand out for me.

Berthe Morisot
French 1841–95
White flowers in a bowl 1885
oil on canvas
46.0 x 55.0 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Bequest of John T. Spaulding
Photography © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved

 

French impressionism exhibition

So, if we focus more on the French impressionist paintings that you’ve got in the gallery at the moment, do you have a favourite from the exhibition?

Again, it varies and it’s a very tricky question. I feel like anyone who worked on the show, but particularly curators, just because we’ve been writing about all of the works and thinking about them in groupings. So, it’s difficult to single things out but I could list a few.

 

Totally up to you. It doesn’t matter. I didn’t mean to pose a difficult question, choosing a favourite child!

Exactly, haha, I don’t want to upset any of the others. But one of my favourite groupings of works that are all very related is the section in the exhibition that is dedicated to this innovative print-making endeavour that was undertaken by three of the impressionists, Degas, Mary Cassatt and Camille Pissarro, in the late 1870s.

Image: Sean Fennessy

 

And it’s interesting that they came together with the intention of publishing these prints in a new journal titled Day and Night. And you’ll understand why it was going to be titled that way when you see the print-making effects they were using a facsimile using it so that these like contrast with light and dark. But it was actually never published. Even though it wasn’t published as they intended, the prints still remain and I think it’s interesting because the vast majority of the exhibition is painting, and I think that is what we associate with the impressionists.

 

The interesting thing to consider is that they were very instrumental in other media as well, and they extended their experimentation and their embrace of modern subject matter to printmaking. So, in this series of prints by the three artists, we have the theatre, which was relatively new in Paris at that point in history, the art gallery where the impressionists would go to study the old masters at the Louvre, and scenes in in the natural world as well.

 

While they did record this predominantly on canvas, they also do experiment with other mediums as well. So, I really love that. It’s a very small and intimate section, but it is one of my favourites. And then I think on a much grander scale, we actually just installed – it seems like a very odd thing to say still – we just installed the Monet room, which is the final section of the exhibition.

French Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston NGV
Part of the Monet Room at French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Image: Sean Fennessy

 

MFA Boston have very generously lent 19 Monet canvases to us, which is incredible. And 16 of those are displayed in that final gallery, an oval shaped space. And it’s just amazing when you walk in. I had a great physical reaction that was just shocking to see many of his works in one room. And to see how and why he is heralded as the great impressionist. You really understand it when you go into that room. It’s just amazing. I think those two are probably my favourites in the exhibition, but there are so many others as well.

 

You’ve mentioned that there are different rooms with different themes. What is the broad theme of the exhibition? Is there a broad theme or is it kind of several themes that link up?

There are moments in the show, for example, that follow chronology, but then it also can become thematic and look at certain motifs that the impressionists were interested in. For example, we have a section called watery surfaces that looks specifically at the very changeable motif of water and how that was a real challenge for the impressionists to capture.

Pierre Auguste Renoir
French 1841–1919
The Seine at Chatou 1881
oil on canvas
73.3 x 92.4 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Gift of Arthur Brewster Emmons
Photography © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved

 

But the exhibition starts for example, with the Barbizon school and a section dedicated to the works of Eugène Boudin, and that’s really tracing these artists who were before the impressionists, who had a very profound influence on them. The exhibition is really tracing this movement that everyone knows about very well, but also introducing artists you might not know as well, and you might not realise without these precursors, there may not have been impressionism. These formative influences. And then we move into this exploration of the central members of the impressionist group and motifs that fascinated them.

 

But I think another really important line throughout the entire exhibition is that we have really consciously integrated the artist’s voice throughout the entire exhibition. From the opening corridor to a large selection of the labels, sometimes quotes are on the walls. We really wanted to, in addition to showing these works many of which people are quite familiar with, we wanted to reveal some of the motivations behind the artists, some of the difficulties they faced and the struggles, the connections, because there are so many connections between these artists, but also some of the rivalries and some of the difficulties that arose between certain artists as well. So, it really provides an extra layer, to contextualize the work and introduce a human element into them as well. I think when we think of Claude Monet for example, he’s almost elevated to this position in art history. And it’s kind of nice to remember that he had struggles and he was connected to this artistic community. I think it just humanizes the artists a lot which is really nice.

French Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston NGV
Image: Sean Fennessy

 

Because we often don’t think about the person that actually painted all those. How did the decision to exhibit along these lines with these themes, how was that decided?

Well, we’ve worked closely with the exhibition’s curators. It’s a curatorial team across institutions. So, in Boston we have Katie Hanson and Julia Welch who are both curators for that institution. And they really selected the works and their thematic groupings and also were so helpful in providing a lot of this dialogue between the artists through their very extensive research on these works in the collection at MFA Boston.

 

And then over here in Melbourne, my boss Miranda Wallace and I, and the wonderful Ted Gott in international art have been working very closely with Katie and Julia to take the works, take the themes and really shape these sections and how we’ve weaved the artists’ voices into them. A lot of which has been done virtually. Often times, if it were different circumstances, they might’ve come and visited a few times and been here for the installation. But that’s not been possible this time round. So, fortunately even though it would have had to be done virtually, it’s worked out incredibly well, and we were able to work really effectively with Katie and Julia on developing all of this exhibition together.

 

Has the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston put on this exhibition itself before?

No, this exhibition has been conceived just for us, which we feel incredibly grateful for. We’ve been talking to one of the couriers, Rona, who is a conservator at MFA Boston and she mentioned some of these works often just do not leave the walls of MFA Boston, which is an incredibly generous thing to be trusting and allowing us to display these works for our audiences. But I believe it’s 79 works of the just over a hundred works that had never actually been to Australia before. So, it’s one that – even though impressionism is such a famous movement in art history – the vast majority of these works, our audiences won’t have seen.

 

Yeah. And do we know how the works included in French Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston came to be in Boston?

It’s interesting actually in a number of ways. I was quite fascinated as well because MFA Boston has one of the best collections of French impressionism in the world. One of the best, outside of France, for example. It’s really the result of the collecting efforts of many Bostonians in the 19th century, many of whom travelled to Paris as the movement was developing. And they would buy paintings, you know, people say as they were still wet on the walls, and brought them back.

 

Mary Cassatt, for example, who we do represent in the exhibition, in the printmaking section and, with a fantastic painting as well, she was one of the members of the impressionist group and she advocated – she was from Philadelphia and moved to Paris – and she advocated among her fellow Americans for the work of the impressionists to be purchased. And it resulted in a lot of really key impressionist works now existing in the American collections, which I think is a really interesting story.

 

I personally love hearing about the stories behind how certain artworks arrive where they are, like where did they move from? How did they change hands?

 

Like who owned them before and then donated to them the Museum…

Exactly. For example, with the Mary Cassatt portrait that we have in this exhibition. It’s a portrait of her niece Ellen Mary and it’s the most beautiful painting. It’s one of my favourites in the show. Mary Cassatt gave it to her niece and then her niece gave it to the MFA Boston, which is such a beautiful thing, you know, it’s such a personal work. It was of her by her aunt and then it’s given to an institution.

French impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston at the NGV
Mary Stevenson Cassatt
American 1844–1926
Ellen Mary in a white coat c. 1896
oil on canvas
81.3 x 60.3 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Gift of Charles, Hope, and Binney Hare in honor of Ellen Mary Cassatt
Photography © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved

 

So, you’ve said the exhibition was conceived just for the NGV. Does that mean that it goes straight back to Boston after this?

That’s right. Yeah. So, there’s no other institutions that it’s presented at.

We thank Meg Slater for this interview and look forward to visiting the French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston exhibition this Winter.

 

KEY EXHIBITION INFO

WHAT: French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

WHEN: Friday 25 June to Sunday 3 October 2021

WHERE: NGV, Melbourne

HOW: Buy tickets to see the exhibition via the NGV website: https://connect.ngv.vic.gov.au/40648

HOW MUCH:

Adult $30

Concession $28

Child (5-15 years) $10

Family (2 adults + 3 children) $65

 

NOTE: 20% discount for NGV Members

 

To find out more about French impressionism, you may like to read our interview with Paul Perrin about Colours of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée D’Orsay, an exhibition which was held in Adelaide a few years ago.

*Top L to R:
Pierre Auguste Renoir
French 1841–1919
Dance at Bougival 1883
oil on canvas
181.9 x 98.1 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Picture Fund
Photography © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved

Henri Fantin-Latour
French 1836–1904
Flowers and fruit on a table 1865
oil on canvas
60.0 x 73.3 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Bequest of John T. Spaulding
Photography © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved

Bottom L to R:

Pierre Auguste Renoir
French 1841–1919
The Seine at Chatou 1881
oil on canvas
73.3 x 92.4 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Gift of Arthur Brewster Emmons
Photography © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved

Claude Monet
French 1840–1926
Poppy field in a hollow near Giverny 1885<br />
oil on canvas
65.1 x 81.3 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection
Photography © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved

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French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Pierre Auguste Renoir
French 1841–1919
Dance at Bougival 1883
oil on canvas
181.9 x 98.1 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Picture Fund
Photography © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved

Degas: Passion for Perfection – Phil Grabsky talks about his latest release

Reading Time: 7 minutes

We spoke to Phil Grabsky, producer and director at Exhibition on Screen about his love of documentary making, the latest documentaries he is bringing to Australia and the first for the 2019 season “Degas: Passion for Perfection”.

Since 2011, you’ve been a director and producer of documentaries about artists and art exhibitions. Where did the idea come from?

Haha. I started 35 years ago as a film-maker making only documentaries. Documentaries are my great love in cinema. I started with TV channels such as BBC, Discovery, Channel 4 in the UK, etc.

 

In 1997, I received a telephone call from a man at Channel 5, who asked if I wanted to make 8 documentaries on the impressionists. The station was required to do at least 26 hours per year on the arts, that is 30 minutes per week dedicated to the arts.

 

So, I did this series and it was a huge success. It was initially screened on Sundays at 2 or 3pm. After three or four weeks, it changed to 7pm at night – prime time. We had a lot of success with these 8 documentaries and it was the beginning of 6 or 7 years of documentaries on the big artists, exhibitions and institutions.

 

I’ve made more than 120 documentaries but about 10 years ago, I decided that the future was in cinema. We have had a revolution in cinema – the digital age. Today, my team sends a hard drive to each cinema – for Exhibition on Screen we are in 63 countries and 400 cinemas and almost all of them receive a hard disc- it’s in high definition and of extraordinary quality.

 

At the same time, I decided that the cinema was also the best place to watch a documentary on the life of Leonardo Da Vinci or about the life of Goya. It’s a lot better at the cinema. 85 minutes in the theatre, without mobile phones, etc.

 

When we started Exhibition on Screen, cinemas had their doubts but now we also have ballet and art. In Australia we are in 80 cinemas. I bring 4 films each year. We have an audience here.

 

We had made 126 documentaries for television before starting Exhibition on Screen.

 

The films for Exhibition on Screen start off in the cinema and 3 months later they are available om DVD, digital platforms, television, etc.  But the first place is always the cinema.

 

 

You’ve spoken about how you’ve been making documentaries for 30 years and that documentaires are your great love in the cinema world. Why do they represent the great love of cinema for you ?

I love artists’ lives and  art history. I have also made two documentaries in Afghanistan and we are currently making a third. I don’t want to make a film with actors, etc. Real life is enough for me.

 

I love researching each film. For example at the moment I am making a new film about the life of Leonardo da Vinci. We are currently filming all of his paintings in all of their locations – St Petersburg, Firenze, Washington, etc.  I love the research – the filming, the set-up. It’s a lot of hours – maybe 16 in 24, 6 or 6 ½ per week in 7. But it’s always very exciting. For me, I love the response from our audiences from all the different countries on our Facebook, Instagram and website. The audience responses and questions. It’s great.

 

I have a lot of ideas of documentaries to make. I have a list of 30 or 40 possibilities for the coming years. Mountains of work. But I have always in my professional life, woken up each morning with energy for work each day.

 

Passion. It’s rare because there are so many people who don’t like their day to day job.

Yes. I read a few weeks ago that 95% of people don’t like their job. That’s extraordinary. I don’t know if it’s accurate. For me the problem, as with all artists and all creatives is the lack of money. But I love the film-making process.

 

How does portraying an exhibition in a film work. Do you film the exhibition as if you are strolling through the exhibition or is there commentary over the top? How does it work?

We make films for the cinema and the films are dramatic and last 85-90 minutes. Two out of three will start in an exhibition – the largest exhibition of the year. The National Gallery in London, MOMA in New York, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. The exhibition is the starting point to make a new film about the life of the artist.

There are 4 films coming to Australia this year:

 

  • “Degas: Passion for Perfection”, which, yes there was an exhibition in England, but it’s a film about the Degas’ life.
  • “Young Picasso” – this was not based around an exhibition. Instead it was my desire to understand why him. Why this young man from Malaga became the biggest artist of the 21st century.
  • “Rembrandt” – yes, it was the biggest exhibition on Rembrandt’s life at the National Gallery in London and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. There was between 5 and 8 years of preparation for this exhibition. It was an excuse for us to make a film about one of the greatest artists in history.
  • And for “Van Gogh in Japan” – it was an exhibition which started in Japan which then came to Amsterdam. For us it was about two things – to understand Van Gogh, you need to understand the influence of Japanese art. But for us it was also the possibility to go to Japan to talk about and to show Japanese art.

 

We speak with these galleries and museums daily to better understand what exhibitions are planned for the coming years. Is it possible for me to make a film about the exhibitions that you will have on in 2022-2023? Each week, nearly each day, I receive emails from galleries letting me know their intentions and their plans for the future asking if I could make a film on the exhibition.

 

And it’s really important that it’s not just London.  I want to make films about the artists, their movements, their exhibitions. Everyone. It has taken me 5 years til today. If the audiences come, I can, together with my team, make 4 or 5 films each year.

 

 

How many hours of work go into a single film ?

Ooh ! A lot, a lot. Sometimes, 4 years. The film of the life of Young Picasso was a project over 4 years. Van Gogh I think was a 2 year project with 13 or 20 employees who worked on it. It’s very important for us that we make a film that you can still watch in 20 years. We must make films of lasting quality. As with the big artists, I want to make films that have value and legacy.

 

Of which documentary that you have made for Exhibition on Screen are you the most proud and why?

Well, that’s difficult. This year I am very happy with the film about Young Picasso, one of the biggest names in the history of art but in this film you will see a lot of paintings that I am sure you have never seen before. In order to understand Picasso’s life, you need to start in Malaga, in his father’s town, and in the cities of Coruña, Madrid, Barcelona, etc. It’s very interesting. And the film finishes with the painting called “Les demoiselles d’Avignon”, one of the most important paintings of the 21st century.

 

Degas is the 21st film that we have made for Exhibition on Screen. They are all my favourites. The film about Monet’s life is purely based on letters – 2300 letters that still exist. So it’s a film only about these letters and the paintings of course! Michelangelo, is a beautiful film. Many, many.

At the same time, before starting Exhibition on Screen, I made 4 films of which I am very proud, being films about composers Mozart, Beethoven, Heydn, Chopin, … As well as the two films about Afghanistan and as I said we are currently making a third one. There are many… It’s important that after investing 3 or 4 years in the films, to be proud of the finished product.

 

For sure! Who is your audience?

I’d like to say that it’s everyone. I make films for my children, for my parents for my neighbours. But the reality is that the majority of people who come along are 50+. But I think that everyone should be interested in artists and art history. But at the cinema, the majority of people who come to watch the ballets, the operas and the films about artists are 50+. Not exclusively, it depends a little on who the artist is.

 

For Matisse, Van Gogh, I can see a lot of young people too. The demographic of 50+ is expanding. People are living longer. I am very happy to speak to people who are 40 or 50+. Why not?

 

But with trends towards people not going out as much and watching films on Netflix, etc. it must be getting harder and harder to get people to go to the cinema?

No, because it’s completely different. At the moment you cannot see films about artists’ lives on Netflix, etc. It’s different.

 

Personally, I love Netflix. But the cinema is a dream place to escape daily life for few hours and the quality of cinema has improved significantly in the last 10 years – the chairs, the screen, the projector, the sound. Now you can see paintings in high definition and hear from the world’s greatest experts.

 

My audience loves seeing films at the cinema. It’s also a community place. In our houses, we have Netflix but we are all alone. At the cinema you are with 200 other people like you who are seeing the same film. You can have a coffee after the film to chat about the subjects raised by the film. It’s very important.

 

Tell me about Degas: Passion for Perfection.

Degas: Passion for Perfection is the first film of this season of four new films. Degas: Passion for Perfection, Young Picasso, Rembrandt and Van Gogh in Japan. Degas, is one of the biggest impressionist artists, one of history’s greatest artists. I love making films on the impressionists because they are all so different. We know their names: Monet, Manet, Degas, but the films that I offer you have their biographies and their works.

The film starts at a large exhibition at the FitzWilliam in Cambridge, the university museum. They have the largest collection of Degas’ art in England – the paintings, sculptures and drawings. It was an excuse to make a new film on Degas’ life. Why did he create these pieces? His life is an extraordinary story. He is one of my favourite artists.

 

You can see “Degas: Passion for Perfection” in cinemas across Australia from 6 June. Cinemas and screening times available at http://www.exhibitiononscreen.com

 

Who is your favourite artist?