Enter your e-mail address to receive updates about DiscoverFrance.net!
DISCOVER FRANCE TRAVEL CENTER
This menu is powered by Agum Network
Click above to visit our Boutique!
Click above to
search this site
or the Internet.
Click above for
music while you browse!
Click above to see
FRENCH ART & ARCHITECTURE
"To say the word Romanticism is to say modern art -- that is, intimacy,
spirituality, color, aspiration towards the infinite, expressed by every
means available to the arts."
Charles Baudelaire (1821-67), French poet.
THE 19TH CENTURY
The 18th century
interest in sentiment and emotion led to an interest in extremes of
sensibility in the romantic art of the following century.
practitioners of romantic painting in France were Theodore Gericault,
Eugène Delacroix, and
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Gericault's Raft of the Medusa
(1818-19; Louvre, Paris), a depiction of the victims of a shipwreck,
exposed the full range of human emotions from despair to
exhilaration. Delacroix's Death of Sardanapalus (1827; Louvre)
explored the potential of color and vibrant brushwork as a means of
heightening the sensations aroused by a dramatic narrative episode.
In harem scenes such as The Great Odalisque (1814; Louvre) Ingres
reflects 19th-century European fascination with the life of the
senses and exotic foreign cultures.
By the mid-19th
century the self-indulgence of romanticism was tempered by the
changing relationship of the artist to the subject matter. Gustave
Courbet insisted that his painting owed no debt to any school or
style and that art should offer detached observations of unidealized
reality. Courbet's paintings of peasants, such as Funeral at Ornans
(1850; Louvre), caused a scandal at that time, but his powerful
depiction of nature found other exponents in Jean Francois Millet and
An outgrowth of
realism was a new conception of art as an activity that was
worthwhile for its own sake regardless of its subject matter or
allegiance to institutional values. This attitude was a necessary
precondition for the emergence of impressionism, a movement in
painting that concentrated on the effects of light and color. The
favored subjects of Claude Monet,
Pierre Auguste Renoir, and
Camille Pissarro, were coastal
and river scenes in which light dissolves form and softens focus. The
loosely associated impressionist group also included
Edgar Degas, whose interior scenes
challenged conventional theories of formal composition and subject
general term for the work of such painters as
Vincent van Gogh, Georges Seurat,
and Pierre Bonnard, evolved in reaction to the neutrality of subject
matter and dissolution of form inherent in impressionism. These
artists had few qualities in common, but their individual styles did
much to determine the directions that painting would take in the 20th
In sculpture, the
19th century tended to be conservative. The romantic sculpture of
Francois Rude, Jean Baptiste Carpeaux, and Antoine Louis Barye stands
out. Auguste Rodin revitalized
sculpture by returning to the direct study of the human form. Rodin's
portrayal of physical and emotional stress led to a fresh
appreciation of the Renaissance masters Michelangelo and Donatello
and exercised a profound influence on 20th-century sculpture.
In architecture, the
neoclassicism of the late 18th century was perpetuated by monumental
forms serving the political ambitions of the Second Empire (1852-70)
of Napoleon III. Later, an eclectic style based on both classical and
baroque architecture emerged in the work of architects trained at the
Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Beaux-Arts buildings such as Jean Louis Charles
Garnier's spectacular Paris Opera (1861-75) played an important role
in Baron Haussmann's modernization of the city during the Second
Empire. Properties of new industrial materials and construction
techniques were investigated by such pioneers as Henri Labrouste and
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, whose Eiffel Tower (1889) has become a
symbol of Paris.
"When I am finishing a picture I hold
some God-made object up to it -- a rock, a flower, the
branch of a tree or my hand -- as a kind of final test. If
the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the
painting is authentic. If there's a clash between the two,
it is bad art."
Marc Chagall (1889-1985), French
THE 20TH CENTURY
Painting and Sculpture
In the early 20th
century Paris was the center of the art world, but art in France--not
French art--must be considered when describing the international
influence of the Parisian avant-garde, because many expatriate
artists worked in the city. The course of 20th-century art was shaped
from Paris by the Spaniard Pablo Picasso, the Russian Wassily
Kandinsky, the Romanian Constantin Brancusi, and many lesser figures.
The history of 20th-century expressionist art descends from van Gogh
and other post-impressionists through the Fauve group that formed
around Henri Matisse, one of the most influential French artists of
the 20th century. Picasso and Georges Braque changed the direction of
painting through their cubist experiments with the pictorial values
of composition, color, and form. The last influential Parisian
artistic movement was surrealism, a literary and artistic movement
devoted to the exploration of irrational and subconscious states of
France was at the forefront of the creation of a new 20th-century
aesthetic. At the turn of the century, the experiments of Art Nouveau
led to the creation of graceful decorative motifs based on natural
forms. The Swiss-French architect Charles Edouard Jeanneret, called
Le Corbusier, pioneered a philosophy of functionalism in architecture
that can be summarized by this famous dictum: "Buildings are machines
to live in." The theory and practices of Le Corbusier, reinforced by
those of the Bauhaus, in Germany, became the fundamental principles
of the International Style, typified by Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye
of French art since World War II include the paintings of Jean
Dubuffet, and the Hungarian-born Victor Vasarely, the brilliantly
colored paper cutouts of Matisse, and Le Corbusier's Pilgrim Church
of Notre Dame at Ronchamp (1950-55).
Alden Rand Gordon
Source: 1997 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia v.9.0.1
The "Joconde" database is a catalogue of drawings, stamps, paintings, sculptures,
photography and objects of art conserved in more than 60 museums throughout France. It
contains details on more than 130,000 works, dating from the 7th century to the present,
representing over 10,000 artists.
Explore the fascinating history of the prophet from Provence,
Read the reviews of our carefully selected travel guides and
recommended reading, then click to save 20-40% on
books you purchase, with the convenience of home delivery.
Can't find your favorite French movies at the video store or
library? Check out our selection of videotapes and DVDs featuring
French movie icons like Depardieu, Deneuve, Montand, and many more.
Then click to
save 10-30% on your own personal copy delivered to your door!
Host your web page with us!
DiscoverFrance.net actively encourages topical submissions from
students of French language & culture, educators, seasoned
travelers, American expatriates, and natives of France.
If you would like to share your experiences, knowledge or
research with thousands of our visitors and friends, please send
a note to the
Are you an individual or business with a web page on any topic
related to France -- arts, culture, entertainment, history,
language, tourism, etc. -- in English or French? Your site can
have an address of "www. discoverfrance. net/your_site" for less
than $10 per month! Get more hits by affiliating with other
Tired of the Java commercial advertising windows and banners
imposed by the so-called "free" web page hosting services? At
DiscoverFrance.net, you can customize your page as you wish,
without any commercial requirements or programming inserted into
your HTML. Our web servers and Internet connections are fast,
For more information, please contact our