The Australian premiere of Pissarro: Father of Impressionism, directed by award-winning UK-based Australian filmmaker David Bickerstaff, will screen in Newtown, Paddington and Leichhardt as well as other cinemas across the country from Thursday May 26, 2022.
Pissarro is Exhibition on Screen’s first new release since the onset of the global pandemic in 2020 and is said to be the most extensive documentary ever made about one of the most significant artists in history – Camille Pissarro (July 10, 1830 to November 13, 1903).
Born in St. Thomas, in the Danish West Indies, Pissarro attended school in Paris, and returned there in his mid-20s to pursue a full-time career as an artist.
Increasingly disillusioned with the power of the French government sponsored Salon, in the early 1870s Pissarro joined with other artists – amongst them Claude Monet and August Renoir, to form a new cooperative.
The groups’ first exhibition in 1874, held at the studio of French-photographer Nadar, included works by Pissarro, Monet and Renoir, alongside those of Alfred Sisley, Edward Degas, Berthe Morisot and Paul Cézanne. At the time, much to Pissarro’s dismay, the show was scorned by critics, all unable to foresee the significant impact this group of artists – henceforth recognised as the Impressionists – would have on the future.
For the next 40 years Pissarro was the driving force behind what has today become the world’s favourite artistic movement, continuing to push the boundaries of the technique and create new opportunities for the group, whilst also holding the Impressionist collective together and encouraging the other members.
One of the most celebrated artists of 19th-century France – and the only artist to have shown his work at all eight Paris Impressionist exhibitions from 1874 to 1886 – Pissarro was also revered by his peers.
Over his lifetime, he would become mentor to many, including Post-Impressionists Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin. In the words of Colin Harrison from the UK’s famous Ashmolean Museum – home to the Pissarro family archive – Pissarro’s “influence on his own and succeeding generations of artists is impossible to quantify”.
Pissarro: Father of Impressionism takes cinema audiences on a journey, delving deep into Pissarro’s life and career across a period of 50 years.
Central to the film are exclusive behind the scenes tours of two major recent European exhibitions dedicated to the artist – one at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England; and the second at Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum in Basel.
Exclusive access to the Ashmolean’s Pissarro family archive – the world’s largest collection devoted to an Impressionist artist – also provides an invaluable insight into Pissarro’s personality, evidenced by his private correspondence with his family, associates and artist friends.
As an artist Pissarro was experimental, always looking for new motifs and inspiration. He would leave his wife and eight children for long periods of time, moving between the settings for the scenes he loved to depict.
In the making of the film, Bickerstaff followed in his footsteps, travelling to the port cities of Rouen, Dieppe and Le Havre, to Pissarro’s family homes in Louveciennes, Pontoise and Éragny, and to the apartments and hotel rooms he rented in Paris.
Here he also visits the archive of art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, which holds the sales records of most of the Impressionist artists.
The film includes interviews with art historians and curatorial experts in both Oxford and Basel, and with Claire Durand-Ruel, who, along with Joachim Pissarro, has written a definitive catalogue of Pissarro’s work.
The 90-minute documentary, celebrates an incredible artist, without whom the Impressionist movement may never have begun or endured.
Pissarro: Father of Impressionism opens in cinemas across Australia on Thursday May 26, 2022 – including at Dendy Newtown (May 28 to June 1), Palace Chauvel Paddington (May 27 to 29), and Palace Norton Street Leichhardt (May 27 to 29).
Find your nearest screening at exhibitiononscreen.com/find-a-screening/