Mary Cassatt: What are the Conventions of Today? (Part 4)

10 Mar
My watercolor and pencil rendition of Mary Cassatt’s The Parrot, 1891.

While continuing to read about Mary Cassatt in “Cassatt” by Jay Roudebush, Crown Trade Paperbacks, NY, 1979  I learned there were a lot of changes going on in Paris with the Salon, Art Critics and the Impressionists.  Mary Cassatt went back to Paris in 1874, after her stay in Parma, Italy.  Her sister joined her sharing an apartment together.  The big “Salon de Refuses” had happened a decade ago but its influences were loosening the stranglehold the Salon had on art.  Artists were defying the Salon’s convention, showing their artistic freedom. 

Cassatt joined with Impressionist artists with her criticism of the Salon’s conventions and its politics.  They still dismissed female artists, treating their art with contempt unless she had a friend on the jury or flirted with the jurors.  Cassatt refused to play those games, voicing her distaste and moved away from the Salon conventions.

She was invited by Edgar Degas to show with the Impressionists in 1879 and she was thrilled.  She admired Degas and his art.  She was happy joining the Impressionists and their causes yet she was unable to attend their café meetings with them since she was a woman.  She instead met with the artists privately and at various exhibitions.

I like how Cassatt had her own principles and was so determined.  She managed to navigate challenges to move her art career forward without compromising her art or person.

We’ve all been rejected at one time or another, but how has that affected you?  Have you changed your direction to follow convention? Or have you joined with those “refused”?  How important is convention?

Bonus: Did you know that the Impressionists labeled themselves  “The Anonymous Cooperative Society of Artists, Sculptors, Engravers, Etc., Endowed with Variable Capital and Personnel”? 

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One Response to “Mary Cassatt: What are the Conventions of Today? (Part 4)”

  1. seikoseven March 11, 2021 at 3:50 am #

    This story might also remind us to stay on our toes and be ready for opportunity.

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