Special Event: Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist Symposium

This event has already passed Location: Horchow Auditorium

Presented in partnership with the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History 

Program support provided by Humanities Texas





Join us for a two-day event exploring the life and work of Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot. 

Friday, March 29
7:00 p.m.
Keynote Talk: Inside Out: Modern Life According to Morisot
In her lucid and analytical paintings, Berthe Morisot expressed an essential aspect of modern life. At the heart of the Impressionist movement, in the age of Baudelaire, she represented the interior values on which her society depended. Join Dr. Anne Higonnet for this keynote talk exploring modern life according to Morisot. 

Dr. Higonnet works on art since 1650, on childhood, and on collecting. A 1980 Harvard College BA, she received her PhD from Yale University in 1988. She is now Professor and Chair of Art History at Barnard College of Columbia University. Her work has been supported by Getty, Guggenheim, and Social Science Research Council fellowships, as well as by grants from the Mellon, Howard, and Kress foundations. She has published many essays, five print books, and two book-scale digital projects, is a prize-winning teacher, and lectures widely, including in the Live Arts program of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 


Saturday, March 30
9:00 a.m.–noon
Join us for a morning exploring Morisot’s perspective as a woman painter, her technique, her relationship with her sitters, and her connections to Edouard Manet and Mary Cassatt. 

8:30 a.m.
Check-in and complimentary coffee service
9:00 a.m.
Welcoming remarks with Dr. Nicole R. Myers, The Lillian and James H. Clark Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Dallas Museum of Art and Sylvie Patry, Chief Curator/Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Collections at the Musée d’Orsay
9:10 a.m.
Intersections: Morisot, Manet, Gender, Genre, Class
Dr. Carol Armstrong will consider the painterly relations between Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet. Focusing less on the biographical details of the personal and professional ties between Morisot and Manet, this talk will explore the pictorial exchanges that took place over the course of the fifteen years between 1868, when Morisot and Manet first met and Manet painted his first portrait of Morisot, and Manet's death in 1883. Starting with the year 1875, the year after Morisot, against Manet's advice, had first exhibited with the Impressionist group, and also the year in which she married his brother Eugène. In 1875, the two artists painted incommensurate pictures of laundresses doing laundry that seemed to mark a temporary parting of the ways between them. From there the talk will look backward, to the period between 1868 and 1873, when Morisot and Manet created a series of interrelated pictures of bourgeois women in interiors, then looking forward, first to period between 1876 and 1880, and their pictorial sparring over the theme of the woman at her toilette, and then to the moment, beginning around 1881, when Morisot began to turn her attention, quite independently of Manet, to female servants, including a new rendition of the laundress at work. The pictorial intersections between the two artists will thus also present an occasion to discuss the way their oeuvres address the intersections between gender, genre and class.
Dr. Armstrong, appointed to the faculty of the Department of the History of Art at Yale University in 2007, teaches and writes about 19th-century French painting, the history of photography, the history and practice of art criticism, feminist theory, and the representation of women and gender in art and visual culture. She received her PhD from the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University in 1986, and has taught at the University of California, Berkeley; the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; and Princeton University. She has published books and essays on Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Paul Cézanne, 19th- and 20th-century photography, and modern and contemporary women artists, and has curated exhibitions at Princeton University Art Museum, the Drawing Center in New York, the Yale Center for British Art, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. 
9:35 a.m.
Berthe Morisot’s Family Pictures and Their Discontents
Throughout her career, Berthe Morisot often represented members of her family. Although it was common for women artists to use as models those closest and most accessible to them, Dr. Marni Reva Kessler will explore how painting her family offered Morisot a unique space for subverting not just academic conventions but also certain social expectations of the time. Exploring the ways in which the artist upends formal traditions and foregrounds psychological complexity, Dr. Kessler will demonstrate how Morisot resisted producing simple, static, idealized views of family and instead actively engaged with the pleasures, tensions, and discomforts that often mark familial relationships. Canvases that depict her sisters, mother, husband, and daughter may thus be seen as meshing love, contentment, and solace with anxiety, longing, sadness, and discontent.
Dr. Kessler is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Kress Foundation Department of Art History at the University of Kansas. She is the author of Sheer Presence: The Veil in Manet’s Paris, as well as articles and book chapters on topics related to urbanism, fashion, food, family, and portraiture in late 19th-century French visual culture. Kessler has received fellowships from such institutions as the National Endowment for the Humanities, Getty Foundation, New York Academy of Medicine, and Schlesinger Library, and she was recently a New York Public Library Food Studies Fellow. Her current book project explores representations of food in late 19th-century France as they engage a range of pleasures, anxieties, and unease associated with life in the modern metropolis.
10:00 a.m.
Madame Morisot and Miss Cassatt
It is always assumed that there is a strong connection between Morisot and Cassatt. Is this based almost entirely on the issue of gender, or did they have a connection in other ways? Morisot is a founding figure of the Impressionist group, while Cassatt entered it later, in 1879, at the invitation of Degas. This was the sole exhibition in which Morisot did not participate, following the birth of her daughter. During the 1880s, the two women seem to have become closer, with Cassatt reaching out to Morisot. Kathleen Adler will consider their domestic subject matter and their technique in this talk. 
Adler co-authored Berthe Morisot (1987) and edited The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot (1986) with Tamar Garb. She contributed an essay, “The Spaces of Everyday Life: Berthe Morisot and Passy” to Perspectives on Morisot, edited by T. J. Edelstein (Hudson Hills Press, New York, 1990), and is the author of “The Suburban, the Modern, and ‘une dame de Passy’” (Oxford Art Journal 12, no. 1 (1989). From 1995 to 2006, she was Director of Education at the National Gallery, London. Since leaving the National Gallery, she has curated a Renoir exhibition in Rome (2008) and a van Gogh exhibition in Milan (2015). She is currently a freelance curator, lecturer, and author, contributing regular reviews to the Burlington Magazine, and she is a Pilates teacher.
10:20 a.m.
10:35 a.m.
Making a Mess with Crushed Flower Petals: Gendered Facture and Berthe Morisot
Perhaps the last frontier of “Impressionist Studies” centers around the artists’ obsessions with active, varied, and highly personal pictorial surfaces. No specialist could ever mistake a “Monet” for a “Sisley” surface—even using black-and-white photographs of details. Yet, we have been more obsessed with imagery, social history, exhibition practice, gendered subjects, and contemporary criticism than with “surface studies.” Only Anthea Callen has made analytic progress in this crucial subject. Dr. Richard Brettell will reflect on Berthe Morisot’s surfaces and read them as highly personal pictorial attempts at agency, particularly in distancing herself from the practice of her brother-in-law, Edouard Manet. 
Dr. Brettell is among the foremost authorities in the world on Impressionism and French painting of the period 1830–1930. With three degrees from Yale University, he has taught at the University of Texas, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, Yale University, and Harvard University. He is currently Vice-Provost of the University of Texas at Dallas, the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetics Studies in the Interdisciplinary Program in Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas, and the Founding Director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, which is housed at the University of Texas at Dallas and the Dallas Museum of Art.
11:00 a.m.
Morisot’s Reputation: Then and Now
Dr. Tamar Garb will look at the reception of Morisot’s work and the terms through which it was understood during her lifetime, the erasure of her contribution in subsequent art histories of Impressionism, and the feminist rediscovery of her work in the 1980s and 90s. How is it possible to talk of her now as an “unknown Impressionist” given the extraordinary energy and work that went into rehabilitating her by feminist art historians? Is it only Morisot who has been systematically erased or feminist art history as well?
Dr. Garb is Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art at University College London. She has written widely on questions of gender and sexuality in 19th-century French art, specializing in the position of women artists in the cultures of modernity. Her books include Women Impressionists (1986), Berthe Morisot (1987, with Kathleen Adler), Sisters of the Brush: Women’s Artistic Culture in Late Nineteenth-Century Paris (1994), Bodies of Modernity: Figure and Flesh in Fin-de-Siècle France (1998), and The Painted Face: Portraits of Women in France, 1814–1914 (2007). 
11:30 a.m.
Closing Remarks 


$15 public
$10 DMA Member
$5 student (with valid ID)

An additional $10 ticket is required to see Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist on Friday, March 29 or Saturday, March 30.