Discuss why his ideas and approach to art were regarded as subversive and why he was accused of attempting to undermine not only the Academy but also the State.
Courbet: The Roots of Modern Art Modernity and Modernism:
Societal changes prompted a greater consciousness of and interest in modernity, which resulted in the development of modernism in art in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Modernist artists seek to capture the images and sensibilities of their age while also subjecting the premises of art itself to critical examination.
The two major modernist art movements of the later nineteenth century are Realism and Impressionism.
Toward the end of the century, modernism led to the development of the avant-garde (artists whose work emphatically rejected the past and transgressed the boundaries of conventional artistic practice).
The National Academies controlled what was considered “art” by controlling teaching and displaying of art works
The Salon was the official art exhibition of the French Academy of Fine Arts (Academie des Beaux-Arts) in Paris
The Salons were state-run art exhibitions held every two years in France, which was juried by artists and critics
Realism developed in France around the mid-century. Its leading figure was Gustave Courbet
Redefining Reality: Realists focused attention on the experiences and sights of everyday contemporary life
Not only a style of art and literature which presented life as it was, but also a philosophy committed to contemporary social issues
Realism:To give a truthful, objective and impartial representation of the real world, based on meticulous observation of contemporary life.(Linda Nochlin)
Emergence of History as a Scientific Discipline
The Changing Relationship between the Artist and the Academy
Excerpts from Courbet’s 1855 Realist Manifesto ‘…painting should consist only of real and existing things’‘…to go backwards is to do nothing’‘…painting can only consist of objects which are visible and tangible for the artist’‘…an epoch can only be reproduced by its own artists’
Daumier, Clown Playing a Drumc. 1865-67 Daumier Daumier, The Two Lawyers (c. 1862-64 )
Vendôme Column A symbol of Napoleon III's power Courbet was considered as an accomplice in the debunking of the Vendôme Column- a symbol of Napoleon III's power - he was imprisoned and tried by the war council.
Another important factor in the growth of a Realist approach was the changing position of the Academy
The Academy was essentially the art establishment, based in various locations across France (with similar systems in other European countries)
It was set up in France in the mid 17th century and was essentially a system of state controlled art education and patronage
The Academy adhered to strict principles about what constituted good or bad in painting – which is where the hierarchy of genres came from, with history painting at the top and genre and still life at the bottom. It also promoted the idea that the finest works of art were those of the past
The training of artists in the Academy system was based on the study of antique sculpture and old master paintings such as Raphael.