The Impressionists and the Man Who Made Them ***Dir: Phil Grabsky. Documentary with the voices of Robert Lindsay, Glen McCready. 91 mins. Cert: U.
The latest in the Exhibition on Screen series – playing for one night only next Tuesday – finds documentarist Phil Grabsky applying his defiantly old-school house style (talking heads, diary readings, steady rostrum camera in the tradition of Kens Burns and Morse) to the acclaimed Inventing Impressionism show now installed at the National Gallery. Interviewees acknowledge these long-canonised works make it hard to convey the shock of the new Impressionism represented; Grabsky wisely deploys his Manets and Monets to illustrate the struggles of Paul Durand-Ruel, the young dealer whose keen commercial and curatorial instincts eventually smashed down the Salon’s locked doors and cracked these artists in America. Given all those personality-oriented “journeys” in TV land, it’s refreshing to encounter a doc that commits ninety minutes to disseminating its info in considered, scholarly fashion: fascinating theories and titbits abound, and the way these canvasses reflect light renders them newly immersive on the big screen. An enriching experience.
The Impressionists... screens in selected cinemas for one night only this Tuesday.