9780900946981 / 0900946989

Paris: Capital of the Arts: 1900-1968


Publisher:Royal Academy of Arts



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About the book:

Between 1900 and 1968 Paris was the undisputed capital of modern art. It is captured in all its splendour in Paris: Capital of the Arts, the extraordinarily ambitious catalogue accompanying the show of the same name held at Londons Royal Academy of Arts and Bilbaos Guggenheim Museum.

Curated by a series of leading academics and curators spearheaded by Sarah Wilson, both the show and the catalogue aim to recreate Paris as "the hedonistic capital of Europe, an artistic crossroads and a testing ground of unparalleled vitality, the goal of artists in search of freedom and inspiration." The result is a dizzying display of 280 works in full colour of a collection of international artists who lived in Paris and invented modern art. As well as French artists of the stature of Matisse, Braque, Duchamp, Fautrier, Dubuffet and Klein, Picasso, Miró, Ernst, Mondrian, Dali and Giacometti are discussed as just some of the artists who drew on Paris for their inspiration.

Some attempt to organise the vast amount of material on show is made by the catalogues essays, most of which move from one quartier of the city to another. The rise of bohemianism and Cubism is discussed in relation to Montmartre, while the development of Surrealism is located in Montparnasse. Finally the more political post-war developments of existentialism and political confrontation are analysed through an exploration of Saint-German-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter.

Considering the wealth of artistic material on Paris itself, there are some unnecessary contributions, including those on Eastern Europe and the French Riviera, and the catalogue suffers from a sadly rambling and incoherent introduction by Sarah Wilson, but overall this is an impressive overview of the mother city of modern art. --Jerry Brotton

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