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Currents of Expansion: Painting in the Midwest, 1820-1940


Judith A. Barter



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
When Fournier gave up his scenery and sign painting to enroll in the new Minneapolis School of Art, he met Douglas Volk, director of the academy. Fournier opened a studio following his year at the academy and in 1888 produced a series of landscapes depicting vistas outside of Minneapolis. Unlike the later Barbizon-inspired landscapes, these pictures have a clarity and freshness of vision and a simple, straightforward naturalism. "Mill Pond at Minneapolis" is one such early work. Though small compared to some of Fournier's other works, the picture conveys a sense of grandeur. Rather than disguising or eliminating "unlovely" elements in the landscape - boxcars, rail yards, timber, log jams, industrial sites - Fournier dissolves the disparate elements in brilliant light. The suggestion of hazy atmosphere and the deft brushwork suggest some familiarity with Impressionism, and the quality of light hints at plein air painting, which Fournier may have learned from Volk or from contemporary French landscapes owned by Minneapolis art patrons.
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Added to Site: March 10, 2009