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The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism

Crimson Rambler by Philip Leslie HaleCrimson Rambler by Philip Leslie Hale

The relationship between art and gardening is explored in a documentary titled The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism, showing tomorrow at the Eden Cinemas.

It tells the intertwining stories of American Impressionism and The Garden Movement which flourished between 1887–1920. Both movements responded to rapid social change brought about by America’s industrialisation. With increasing urbanisation prompting the emerging middle class to seek refuge in the suburbs, they began to spend their free time and wealth cultivating impressive private gardens.

When French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel brought a selection of impressionist paintings to New York in 1886, he changed the course of art in the US. Many American artists, inspired by what they saw, made the pilgrimage to study in Monet’s Giverny, and were keen to employ their experience to capture America’s own unique landscapes. In doing so, they captured a unique moment in America’s history – a snapshot of a nation transitioning from a land of agriculture to a land of industry.

Clark Voorhees House by Matilda BrowneClark Voorhees House by Matilda Browne

The Artist’s Garden follows the sell-out exhibition The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887-1920, on its journey from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to the ‘home’ of the movement – Florence Griswold’s colony at Old Lyme. Famed as a “place for high thinking and low living”, the colony attracted a host of influential painters including Henry Ward Ranger and Willard Metcalf.

The audience is transported to Appledore Island, run by poet Celia Thaxter, where pre-eminent impressionist Childe Hassam produced 300 works over three decades. The film reveals how Thaxter and other American women saw the garden not only as a beautiful oasis but an important political space for women. As gardening’s popularity rose, women began to take on new professionalised roles, from garden design to horticultural writing, and lead activist movements to protect native species.

The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism is directed by Phil Grabsky (Seventh Art Productions). The film is part of the pioneering series Exhibition on Screen.

Working with top international museums and galleries, their films offer a cinematic immersion into the world’s best loved art combined with detailed artist biographies.

■ The film is showing at the Eden Cinemas in St Julian’s tomorrow at 8.45pm. Tickets can be bought online at www.edencinemas.com.mt or call 2371 0400 for reservations.

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