"In the Market Place"

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    Lucien Abrams (1870 - 1941)

    Following is the online text for the Florence Griswold Museum's
    exhibition: "Lucien Abrams: A Cosmopolitan in Connecticut", March 21
    through June 1, 2014.
    This exhibition of over forty paintings
    and accompanying archival material was organized by the Old Jail Art
    Center in Albany, Texas. It is the first to examine the work of Lucien
    Abrams (1870-1941), who contemplated subjects as diverse as Algerian
    watering holes, New England circus tents, and shady plazas in the
    American southwest. Abrams is an important figure in the Lyme Art Colony
    and the evolution of American Impressionism in the twentieth century.
    His work represents an attempt to maintain the vitality of such a key
    modern movement. "Lucien Abrams: A Cosmopolitan in Connecticut" will
    give viewers new found perspective on this well-educated, well-traveled
    man of art.

    Abrams' exhibition record is impressive, yet his work
    is not widely know due the small number of his paintings in public
    collections. For this exhibition, guest curator Michael R. Grauer drew
    from both public and private collections to examine Abrams' contribution
    to Texas Impressionism, and also the American and worldwide
    Impressionist movement. To tailor the show to Old Lyme, curators at the
    Florence Griswold Museum explored his deep connections to Old Lyme
    through paintings, diaries, and photographs borrowed from his family and
    works from the Museum's own collection. "Abrams immersed himself in the
    community and these materials, carefully preserved by his family, help
    restore our sense of the home and friendships he made here," says
    Curator Amy Kurtz Lansing.

    A native Kansan, Lucien Abrams moved
    to Dallas with his family in 1873. He studied at Princeton, the Art
    Students League of New York, and the Académie Julian in Paris, living
    and traveling in Europe and Algeria from 1894 until 1914. While Abrams'
    style is diverse, the works he exhibited annually in Paris, and at the
    Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and
    the National Academy of Design showed the influences of Impressionism,
    Post-Impressionism, and Fauvism.

    An admirer of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Abrams pays homage to the Impressionist master in his painting, Déjeuner en Provence,
    ca. 1910 (on loan from the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas). The
    depiction of a female figure in a casual patio setting thinly painted
    and sketchily defined by short brushstrokes, and using a high-keyed
    palette, distinguish it as an Impressionist painting.

    many paintings of his wife and/or daughter seated in chairs invite
    comparison to Paul Cézanne's portraits of Madame Cézanne. The loose
    handling of Femme au Chapeau and its muted color scheme echo this artist's Post-Impressionist works.

    Africa was a magnet for European artists during the nineteenth century.
    Like his French colleagues, Abrams gravitated to Algeria, where he made
    numerous paintings of the country's architecture and people during a
    two-year stay in 1905-06. Kabyle Woman, ca. 1906, depicts a
    member of one of the Berber groups in Algeria, shrouded in traditional
    fabrics. In his sketches and paintings, Abrams seems to have appreciated
    the almost abstract shapes into which these garments transformed their

    In 1914, Abrams began dividing his time between his
    family home in Dallas, a winter home in San Antonio, and a summer home
    in Old Lyme, Connecticut. The artist brought to the American
    Impressionism practiced in colonies such as the one in Old Lyme a
    greater awareness of succeeding European artistic movements, enlivening
    the aesthetic approach in a way that facilitated the embrace of a more
    modern sensibility by members of the colony. The Orchard (from
    the Florence Griswold Museum's collection), depicting Florence
    Griswold's property, reflects the influence of Fauvism on Abrams in his
    juxtaposition of reds and purples.

    Untitled Landscape
    White House a depiction of Abrams' home on Johnnycake Hill imports the
    lessons of Matisse to Old Lyme in its sketchy articulation. While living
    in that home, Abrams and his wife would become active in the Lyme Art
    Association, where Abrams exhibited both earlier European works and
    canvases completed in Old Lyme. Some of his still lifes, based on floral
    arrangements his wife gathered from their garden, will be exhibited
    along with the vessels he used as props, collected in his foreign

    The exhibition sheds light on Abrams' life, travel, and
    impact on the practice of American Impressionism. His thorough
    familiarity with European art and life distinguished him from other Lyme
    Colony members whose European experiences were confined to a brief
    period of their lives. Abrams' cosmopolitan outlook and aesthetic
    allowed him to infuse an updated appreciation for the modern into
    Impressionism in Old Lyme. As such, his presence stimulated the colony
    from 1914 until his death in 1941.