Impressionist works recreated by Kiwi artists

11 November 2016
Impressionist works recreated by Kiwi artists

Hand-painted replicas of famous paintings by Degas, Monet, Renoir and others will soon be in the same room again, inspired by their first controversial showing in Paris over 140 years ago.

The exhibition has been conceived and curated by Nate Dunn, a masters student in Art History.

It not only reflects his fascination with the Impressionists, but also his interest in disrupting what he sees as a "prevailing attitude of elitism in art".

"I wanted to create a discussion by taking on the idea that the only art to have value must be ‘original’. As paintings age they change and fade, the work you are seeing today is not necessarily how it looked when it was originally painted; in other words, original work may not be accurate to itself."

He says there is a lot of misunderstanding of what a replica actually is.

"It’s not the same as fake or forgery. A fake is misattributed and a forgery has an intention to deceive, whereas a replica is an intentional copy. Replicas are an intermediary between the idea of the original or nothing."

Several of the participating artists are students in Fine Art or Art History.

"I didn’t want to just show Kiwis great art, but support Kiwi artists."

Breaking with long-established traditions, the original 1874 Paris exhibition featured 165 works and caused a huge stir in the art world establishment.

Reviews were uniformly negative, with one reviewer referring to "impressions of paintings" as opposed to the real thing, unwittingly giving the group its name.

"People responded with outrage, they didn’t know what they were looking at," says Nate.

Today, the famous works are in public and private collections throughout the world.

He is delighted with the replica works, which are: A Modern Olympia by Cezanne, At the Races in the Countryside by Degas, Impression, Sunrise by Monet, Hide and Seek by Morisot, Orchard in Bloom, Louveciennes by Pissarro and La Loge by Renoir.

Replicating Genius runs from 11-16 November at the Gus Fisher Gallery, Kenneth Myers Centre, 74 Shortland Street, Auckland. The gallery opens from 10am to 5pm on weekdays and midday to 4pm at weekends. For Replicating Genius, there will be special late nights on Monday 14 and Wednesday 16 November.

Find out more about Replicating Genius.