Artistic Uprisings: French and Impressionist Art
Artistic Uprisings highlights the ingenuity of artists who went against the fixed principles of academic art, as well as the political establishment, to change the course of art history.
The exhibition is focused around two main generations of artists - the Realists of the mid 19th century and the Impressionists of the late 19th century - and will be displayed at National Museum Cardiff until 31 January 2010.
Works on show include Monet’s ‘Waterlilies’, ‘Rouen Cathedral’ and ‘San Giorgio Maggiore by Twilight’, Cezanne’s ‘Still Life with Teapot’, sculpture including Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ and Degas’ ‘Dressed Dancer, study’.
The nineteenth century in France was a time of revolution in politics and in art.
As the nation swung between kings, emperors and presidents, art had rarely been so controversial or innovative.
The French State controlled the main public art institutions and often censored images. An artist’s career could depend on acceptance to the state-run Paris Salon exhibitions which enforced strict academic principles.
It meant a radical new technique could be as challenging to public authority as some subject matter.
In 1874 a defiant group of artists made a deliberate stand. Their modern subjects, bright colours and unfinished-looking ‘impressions’ had been regularly rejected by the academic selection committee but, now displayed in their own privately organised exhibition, they caused sensation and uproar.
The ingenuity of these artistic activists eventually convinced even the most traditional of critics, who were now confronted by the next generation – the Impressionists.
The growing number of private dealers and collectors became far more influential to artists’ careers.
In Wales, the foresight of Gwendoline and Margaret Davies in the early twentieth century ensured that such revolutionary artworks could be seen here today.