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París, fin de siècle: Signac, Redon, Toulouse-Lautrec and their contemporaries
13 May, 2017 - 14 May, 2017
This is an exceptional opportunity to view rarely seen, late 19th-century French avantgarde works from private European collections. It includes artists such as Paul Signac, Odilon Redon, Pierre Bonnard, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who carefully crafted compositions that are anti-naturalistic in form and execution.
The exhibition focuses on the radical innovations of the Neo-Impressionists, Symbolists, and the Nabis, and the revival of printmaking in the 1890s.
The artworks featured in this exhibition, mirroring a time of political and social upheaval, embrace utopian conceptions of shimmering seascapes and landscapes; introspective, fantastical visions; and stark, incisive portrayals of contemporary life.
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is pleased to present Paris, Fin de Siècle: Signac, Redon, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Their Contemporaries, an exhibition that analyzes the Parisian art scene, underscoring the most important French avant-gardes of the late 19th century, particularly the Neo-Impressionists, Symbolists, and Nabis.
The leading exponents of these movements are represented in the show by approximately 125 paintings, pastels, drawings, and prints.
Fin-de-siècle Paris was a time and place of political upheaval and cultural transformation, during which sustained economic crisis and social problems spurred the rise of radical left-wing groups and an attendant backlash of conservatism that plagued France throughout the late 1890s. In 1894, President Sadi Carnot fell victim to an anarchist assassination, while the nationally divisive Dreyfus Affair began with the unlawful conviction for treason of Alfred Dreyfus, an officer of Alsatian and Jewish descent.
Such events exposed France’s social and political polarization: bourgeois and bohemian, conservative and radical, Catholic and anticlerical, anti-republican and anarchist. Mirroring the facets of an anxious, unsettled era, this period witnessed a spectrum of artistic movements. By the late 1880s, a generation of artists had emerged that included NeoImpressionists, Symbolists, and Nabis. Their subject matter remained largely the same as that of their still-active Impressionist forebears: landscapes, the modern city, and leisure-time activities. However, the treatment of these familiar subjects shifted and these scenes were joined by introspective, fantastical visions and stark portrayals of social life.
The exhibition takes a closer look at these avant-garde movements, concentrating especially on some of the most prominent artists of that time: Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Maximilien Luce, Odilon Redon, Paul Signac, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Félix Vallotton. The ambition to spontaneously capture a fleeting moment of contemporary life gave way to the pursuit of carefully crafted works that were anti-naturalistic in form and execution and sought to elicit emotions, sensations, or psychic changes in the viewer. Despite their sometimes contradictory stances, these artists shared the goal of creating art with a universal resonance, and there was even overlap among
members of the different groups.
Surveyed together, the idioms of this tumultuous decade map a complex terrain of divergent aesthetic and philosophical theories, while charting the destabilizing events at the brink of a new century.