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    Eugene Dabit. Autograph Manuscript.
    Seven pages (approximately 6.25 pages handwritten and three-quarters of a page typescript) in French, 5.25" x 7.5", n.p.; n.d. [circa 1920s]. In this manuscript entitled "Les Expositions," Dabit appears to review several expositions of French artists and a book by Dutch painter and graphic artist Frans Masereel (1889-1972). A partial English translation of the manuscript follows:

    50 paintings by Claude Monet, from 1865 to 1888, Gallery Durand-Ruel.
    Kars [Georges Kars], Gallery Bernier.
    Peintres Instinctifs, [illegible] and Expressionists, Gallery of the Beaux-Arts.
    Engravings by Jacques Callot, Bibliothèque Nationale.
    Engravings and drawings by Adam [multiple people share this name].
    One book by Frans Masereel.

    The method of dividing a painter's works into 'periods' is too easy and even vain when it comes to Monet's early works. It is tempting, for the sake of these early paintings, to resist or even deny his later works, notably his Nymphias series. Indeed, Monet's later works do not express the broadening that Renoir's later works do. They may have both succumbed to a kind of insanity but at least in Renoir's case it remained plastique [plastic arts]. Monet, on the other hand, was fixated on capturing the uncatchable, of containing the most intense light, the changes of color, and one day came when, like Mr. Turner, he became lost in the clouds. Despite our right to make harsh criticisms of him, we must recognize how grandiose and desperate Monet's passion was.

    So let us not use his early works against him, let us just appreciate their beauty and perfection, such as L'embouchure de la Seine aux environs de Honfleur, Sainte-Addresse, that remind one of the early masters of plein air painting, Boudin and Jongkind, precursors of Impressionism. Those early paintings show Monet's sensibility to variations of light and his touch has something nervous and fast that is reminiscent of Jongkind's watercolors. After Boudin and Jongkind came the influence of Corot and without a doubt of Courbet and Manet. The evolution of Monet is that of his friends as well, Renoir and Cézanne.

    Between 1872 and 1880, with his series on the banks of the Seine, he lets go of these influences and comes into his own. After an exhibition in 1876 at Durand-Ruel, the paintings of Monet and his friends Renoir and Sisley receive the label 'Impressionist'. This classification never much concerned Monet, one way or the other.

    His evolution is both the evolution of a painter and of a man. His paintings do not simply restore the world of the past, one that we only find in Guy de Maupassant's novellas and novels, they paved the way for the liberation of painting, they are at the origin of works by Matisse and Bonnard. Monet's Impressionism makes a cult of sensation, the supremacy of instinct over intelligence, of life over culture and art. It was a revolution that today's painters are still experiencing, even those painters who combat the influence of Impressionism in their works. It is easy to notice the destructive impacts of Monet's art: denial of the painting, as understood in the classical sense, the refusal of art and aesthetic. That said, Monet is the only one who completed his Impressionist forays, who went to the end of his investigations, the only one who accepted [illegible] and that is his greatness. Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, they all came back to their senses and were greatly praised for it. Today, we can praise Monet for having lost himself!

    Let us come back to those early paintings. What is striking is Monet's pictorial talent, his delicacy. He can express the most subtle variations of color, that is to say, of light. For all his talent, his touch sometimes shows weakness which nevertheless easily covers up a lack of architecture in his paintings.

    There are two kinds of painters. The first is concerned with form, the second with color. Monet naturally fits into the latter. For him forms are but a casing of air within a whole. He has no sense of a line, of volume. For instance in Déchargeurs de charbon à Argenteuil, his concern is for expression ["expressiveness"?]. He expresses the emotion that forms yield in him rather than the form itself. His impressionism is at the source of expressionism. Surely, he was revolutionary but he also contained destructive aspects which contemporary painters are struggling against.

    His message was essentially lyrical and not realist. He made no secret of the limits of his art. When speaking of him, we do not consider the word 'eternal'. Yet is there not a desire for eternity in the attempt to contain a fugitive moment? As desperate a cry before life and death as the greatest minds made us hear....

    The name given to an exhibition may be odd, catchy, neither just nor pleasing. The bulk of work by [illegible] and Soutine cannot be called instinctifs while those of Chagall, Pascin, Marie Laurencin, Modigliani are not strictly speaking at the root of expressionism. In fairness one should reach back to Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and to certain "Fauvist" exhibitions. Behind that unfortunate exhibition name lies the intention of the curators. This exhibition is the tenth in the 'Periods of Contemporary Art'. It would be better to take each artist presented in the exhibition individually, to revisit the story and legends of these artists, especially Rousseau, Modigliani, [illegible] and Soutine. As they started out, each of them, consciously or not, leaned on the school of Impressionism.

    The exhibition of engravings by Callot is a return to a world where pictorial and aesthetic rules set out by specialists and museums reign supreme. One would have hoped to be surprised but that is hardly the case. Though certainly a technical master, his engravings lack any fantasy or real violence, no color or nuance, in a word they are monotonous. Think of the grandiose and unique effects that Rembrandt achieved in his etchings, not even engravings. Callot's drawings reveal his limitations: they are burdensome and academic.

    Adam presents engravings and etchings that transport us to our world both in terms of technique and subject. No doubt these will serve as testaments to our times. Unlike Callot's works, they are not descriptive. They are born out of expressionism, grounded in research by the surrealists. While his earlier works were ripe with aesthetic and even literary aspects, this series seeks simplicity. Adam's drawings are more complete, his composition more unified. He gets to the essence of his subjects. The artist has stepped aside in favor of the man.

    Frans Masereel mainly uses wood engravings as his form of expression. Just like etchings, it has its limits. In this new series of 66 drawings, he achieves peak intensity and expression through composition, choice of materials, the use of white. He never yields to confusion or laziness."

    Eugene Dabit (1898-1936) was a French socialist writer. He was part of the group "proletarian literature "and had a great success for his novel The North Hotel which won the Populist novel Prize and was filmed in 1938 by Marcel Carné. Dabit was a friend, and literary and political associate of the French writer and Nobel Laureate André Gide (1869-1951). He was also an amateur artist.

    Content: The manuscript is in very good to fine condition.

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    September, 2019
    4th Wednesday
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