On a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the end of April, students from all sections of French language and literature, accompanied by professors Katie Golsan and Cosana Eram, took a field trip to San Francisco. Their purpose? To see an astounding exhibition at the Museum of the Legion of Honor titled “Intimate Impressionism,” which showcased approximately 70 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist landscapes, seascapes, still lifes, interiors, and portraits, from the collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
According to students who participated in the field trip, the excursion provided the opportunity to both enhance their language skills and form a deeper connection to the culture they were studying. Below, some of the participants shared their thoughts with us.
“Reading about famous French painters and looking at their paintings online is one thing, but seeing them in real life is a whole different experience. Being able to look through the impressionist exhibit and seeing pieces by painters like Monet, Pissarro, and Sisley was truly compelling. When walking through the exhibit, you can sense the change in the atmosphere of the paintings as time went on. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and I felt that it gave us a better understanding of French history, rather than just learning the language.”
— Annie Ahmed, French 11 B (second semester French language)
“This field trip was a special opportunity to gather outside of class and apply what we’ve learned in a different setting. The exhibit provided further insight to French culture and it was exciting to overhear a French conversation in passing, and actually be able to understand it!”
— Binaypreet Singh, French 11 B (second semester French language)
“The fieldtrip to the Museum of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco was an inspirational and humbling experience. I learned a plethora of French history as well as French cultural themes that were made evident through the artwork. The art wasn’t just about the beauty of each painting alone, but that the collection of the art pieces resembled lifestyle and cultural art decisions that French painters had made. The museum was in the most pristine area; the view to the left was the Golden Gate Bridge and the view to the right was the downtown of San Francisco.”
The Monet exhibit caught my interest because of its dynamic contrast between different stages in Monet’s lifetime. The fact that he had cataracts and could still paint beautiful pictures with just different color schemes was extraordinary. “Soleil Levant” and “Waterlily Pond” portrays how Monet loved painting in cycles; he repainted his old artwork at different times of the day and year. As time went on, French art quickly migrated to abstract art, which signified a turning point in culture, philosophy, modern analytical thinking, and of course, art.”
— Rachel VanHorne, French 11 B (second semester French language)
“I really liked the history that went along with the exhibit, showing the pre and post-impressionist works as well and how the style progressed through the years and different artists. Though my favorite part was probably after the exhibit itself when we went upstairs and found some more Monet’s in one of the small rooms up there, since he’s my favorite painter. They had one of his Water Lily Series with the flowers in full bloom, which is absolutely beautiful.”
— Amber Rose, French 25 (advanced French language)
“The trip to the Legion of Honor was a delightful experience. The Impressionist painting exhibit was so interesting and informative, and the wide variety of artists and paintings gave a comprehensive feel for that artistic style. An exhibit on Matisse contained some illustrations for books or poems that we had read in class, and it was so wonderful to be able to put classroom learning into a real-life artistic context. Being able to enjoy French art in a museum in San Francisco while reflecting on 18th century literature that we had read at University of the Pacific was a beautifully multicultural experience.”
— Emma Schyberg (graduating student)