They were rebels — with paintbrushes.

"When you think of impressionism, you think of peaceful, soothing paintings," said Scott A. Schweigert. "But the impressionist painters really were the radicals of their time, because they didn't paint in the standard way."

And they changed the art world, said Schweigert, curator for the Reading Public Museum.

Through more than 75 paintings and works on papers from the Pennsylvania museum, a new exhibit at the LSU Museum of Art examines how French impressionism influenced American painters.

"Across the Atlantic: American Impressionism Through the French Lens" runs through June 9.

At the end of the 19th century, impressionism was considered a new style of painting, the first modern art movement.

The artists, according to the LSU Museum of Art, "emphasized light and atmospheric conditions, rapid or loose brushstrokes, and a focus on brightly colored scenes from everyday life," a world apart from the staunchly posed subjects of artists past.  

Think of the works of the French painter Edgar Degas and American Mary Cassatt, who were among the artists to show this new style in the official impressionist exhibitions in Paris in the 1870s and 1880s.

"The Sorbonne wouldn't show the impressionists' paintings, so they had their own show," said Schweigert, who was here for the opening of the LSU MOA exhibit. "They weren't going to be ignored."

And American artists were watching.

The show's story begins with a few works by Paris impressionists, including Degas, who spent time working in New Orleans, and Cassatt. 

From there, the Americans take the stage with works by such artists as William Merritt Chase, John Henry Twachtman, Childe Hassam, Frank W. Benson and John Singer Sargent.

Schweigert points out Sargent's painting, "Man Reading (Nicola d'Inverno)," as one of the show's key pieces.

"That's one of my favorites, because it isn't anything like the portrait paintings Sargent is known for," Schweigert said. "This one is loose, and it isn't a commission. It's just very casual, which is what makes it so great."


Across the Atlantic: American Impressionism through the French Lens

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Through June 9.

WHERE: LSU Museum of Art in the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette St.

ADMISSION: $5, age 13 and up; free for 12 and younger and university students with ID

INFORMATION: (225) 389-7200 or lsumoa.org


Follow Robin Miller on Twitter, @rmillerbr.