Musical Fluidity: A Visual Duet

TJC Gallery, Spartanburg, South Carolina
May 2, 2017 – August 18, 2017

A revolutionary approach seized the international art world’s attention in the later nineteenth century, when French painters began to interpret their environment with quick, unfinished brushstrokes on canvases imbued with light. These avant-garde artists’ aesthetic and technical transformations influenced the musical arena as well, particularly the creations of Parisian composer Claude Debussy. A popular and innovative musician known for dissonant tonalities, Debussy regularly drew inspiration from Impressionism, a practice that is best illustrated by his 1899 three-movement piece, Nocturnes. The trio of sections differ vastly, exploring imaginary Impressionist vignettes. The opening piece, “Nuages,” describes the lull of a peaceful landscape, followed by “Fêtes,” a joyous fanfare. “Sirènes,” the final movement, depicts the sea as the light glitters and glows across its surface. 

On this side of the Atlantic, Impressionism found expression in the American South. Regional artists sought to capture the grace and beauty of the Southern landscape, much as Monet had done in his Giverny gardens. From strictly representational works by Lamar Dodd, Robert Loftin Newman, and Elliott Daingerfield to complete abstractions executed by William Halsey and John Urbain, Musical Fluidity: A Visual Duet illustrates the symbiotic relationship between visual and musical art.

Mounted in honor of Maestro Sarah Ioannides' final performance with the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, this exhibition is curated by Mariah Egan, a Converse College senior art history major and Johnson Collection intern.