ExhibitionCarnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Modest Huys - Painter of and for the people
The clattering sunlight falls through the trees while an intimate scene unfolds in an abundance of colors and shades. The vibrant brush strokes are strongly reminiscent of the luminism of Emile Claus, who had a major impact on Modest Huys in the early years of his career. Claus sparked the artist's artistic hunger which had remained unsatisfied in his father's decoration studio. Despite the similarities of their impressionism, pointillism and luminism, both artists had a radically different artistic personality. Modest Huys cannot be regarded as a disciple of Claus.
Being an autodidact, Huys was a committed self-made man. He soon stopped the education he started at the Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts. Without an academic education he intuitively developed his own painterly values. On top of that, Huys was more a man of the people than Claus and he valued the aesthetic development of his fellow men: "I think it is necessary to work a little more to spread the feelings of art amongst the people." His connection with the Lys was rather an emotional inclination than an artistic consideration. For him, The river Lys was more than an idyllic stream and the surrounding flax-rich farmlands were the source of sweat and hard labor.
Huys gets noticed for the first time by his participation in the Liège World Exhibition in 1905. His presence draws the attention of lawyer and patron Octave Maus. On his invitation, he exhibits at La Libre Esthétique and finds his way into the Vie et Lumière art group alongside artists such as Emile Claus, James Ensor and Jenny Montigny. His participation in the Venice Biennale five years later
also pays off internationally. The American Carnegie Institute invites him from 1910 for the annual exhibitions in Pittsburgh. He continues to exhibit there from 1910 to 1914 and from 1920 to 1923. The institute had built up a good reputation and wanted to enrich the taste of the American public with a select group of artists from home and abroad. The painting in this auction "Children in the orchard" got a place at one of the first exhibitions of the Institute and the purchase of the work "Summer Joy" in 1914 confirmed the appreciation of Modest Huys' work. Also in America Huys' sense of color, free fracture and poetic approach was much appreciated.