The rise of Modernism, from the early 19th century to the middle of the 20th, was played out with particular intensity in France. International artists were drawn to salons and dealers. The exchanges between poets and painters and the Bohemian atmosphere of Montmartre and Montparnasse made Paris the center of the art world. ..
The premise of this engaging publication, the catalogue from an important exhibition at the University of Oxford's renown Ashmolean Museum, is that there was no straight line from the traditional to the shock of abstraction. It follows the path from Neo-Classical and Romantic artists like David, Ingres, Gericault and Delacroix, through to the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists Degas, Monet, Cassatt and Seurat, to the ground-breaking experiments of Picasso and Braque.
Academic artists and members of the avant-garde hotly debated their new ideas and rivalries developed between the different schools and powerful characters. This book explores how the artists who created Modernism accomplished this.
At the heart of the story is a choice group of pieces by Picasso, Braque and others who first experimented with Cubism. Examples include an early study by Picasso for Les Demoiselles d Avignon of 1906 7, and oil paintings and works on paper produced by artists who exhibited at the first public showing of Cubism, the Salon desIndependants of 1911, and other landmark exhibitions, including Léger and important, but now lesser-known figures, like Juan Gris, Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger and Jacques Villon.
The author is the senior curator for European Art in the Ashmolean Museum.
Excerpts from Mark Hudson's review of the show (The Telegraph, London)
Provide a soupcon of its delights:
"... It is with Degas's large colored drawing, in chalk and pastel, of a woman drying herself ... that we sense something really massive has happened..,
"... the vigorous lines of a Matisse wood cut... seem spiritually connected to the delirious intensity of the only print Van Gogh ever created, a small etching of the doctor who treated him..."
"...among many delights, Raoul Dufy's charming painting of hugger-mugger rooftops on the Côte d'Azur... "... Leger's Mother and Child are boldly delineated against panels of abstract color that... sing out... "
notes that the culmination is "...a group of large and exuberantly exotic Picasso drawings...."
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