History of Modern France

The Third French Republic 1870-1940. Part 6

15 September 2021

 

The Paris Art World during the Great War

with Chris Boïcos


Pablo  Picasso, Arlequin et femme au collier, 1917      Paris, Musée national d'Art moderne
Pablo Picasso, Arlequin et femme au collier, 1917 Paris, Musée national d'Art moderne

At France’s entry into war in July 1914 all exhibitions and salons that had thrived in the years immediately before were brought to a sudden halt. French artists like Braque and Léger were immediately conscripted into the army while others like the Delaunays, Robert and Sonia, or Marcel Duchamp fled abroad. The modern art world in Paris came to be dominated by the foreign artists left in town, notably the Spanish, Italians, Swiss and Russians.

 

In our talk we will follow the wartime careers of Pablo Picasso escaping the conflict by immersing himself in the chic world of Sergei Diaghilev’s ballets russes, the rise of the new dealer for Cubism and avant-garde art, the famous Léonce Rosenberg, and the canteen that generously fed all the starving Bohemians of Montparnasse like Modigliani, organized by the indomitable Russian artist Marie Vassilieff.

 

 

The by-products of the war were the birth of new Utopian style for the post-war world, daubed “Purism” by its founders, Amédée Ozenfant and Charles Jeanneret (Le Corbusier), the seeding of the disruptive Dada movement and the reactionary turn that came to be called “le retour à l’ordre” which rejected the excesses of pre-war modern art.

Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine,  Washington, National Gallery of Art