The joys and foibles of French society and culture will be celebrated at the Sordoni Art Gallery during the exhibition, “L’Esprit: Exploring Wit and Beauty in French Prints” from Aug. 3 to Oct. 10. The exhibition features art from 1830 to 1930 when Paris was the world capital of the artistic creative innovation and opportunity. The work of more than 30 artists from the 18th and 19th century will be featured, including Paul Cezanne, Honoré Daumier, Charles Méryon, Paul Gauguin and more.
During this time, the daily life of people “from the city and country, rich and poor, famous and anonymous” grew to become a most popular subject. The exhibition is organized by several major themes including depictions that glorify or ridicule the ever-present French State, landscapes of monuments and street life found in big towns and cities, bucolic renditions of farm life, the adoration of beautiful women, the love of children and the fruitful relationship that arose between printmaking and literature.
Nancy Sojka organized the exhibition from the collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts in 2019. She retired as head of the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 2016 where she served for 27 years. During her tenure, she organized more than 40 exhibitions from the Institute’s collection and is the author of Terry Winters Prints.
A closing reception celebrating the exhibition will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 30 in the gallery. Additional events in support of the exhibition are free and open to the public:
- 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Sept. 15: Art in Context Lecture: Making the French Print Connection. The roots of modern printmaking were revived and cultivated in 19th century France. With Paris at the center, the era witnessed an explosion of invention, creativity and success that continued for more than a century. Aspects of daily life—in all its complexities—became new, dominant themes. Works that tell this intriguing story of technical, cultural and artistic innovations will be the focus of this lecture with Nancy Sojka, exhibition curation.
- 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9: Art in Your Hands: Paper Quilling Workshop. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, one of the most popular leisure activities in the decorative arts was paper quilling. Although its origins are believed to go back to ancient Egypt, quilling, also known as paper filigree, saw multiple surges in popularity during the Renaissance, Colonial Americas, the Industrial Revolution and across the globe today. Attendees can create their own quilled masterpiece inspired by Aristide Maillol’s Galatea in the Waves.
The Sordoni Art Gallery is located at 141 S. Main. St. in Wilkes-Barre and shares space with the Karambelas Media and Communication Center. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays and 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The gallery follows the operating schedule of Wilkes and is closed on University holidays, breaks or due to inclement weather. For more information, visit www.wilkes.edu/sordoniartgallery.