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1900: Art at the Crossroads Robert     Rosenblum

1900: Art at the Crossroads

Robert Rosenblum

Published
ISBN : 9780810943032
Hardcover
445 pages
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 About the Book 

At the turn of the last century, academic painters were producing formal works, often with strongly moral overtones, at the same time that a generation of younger artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Kandinsky were exploring revolutionary new methodsMoreAt the turn of the last century, academic painters were producing formal works, often with strongly moral overtones, at the same time that a generation of younger artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Kandinsky were exploring revolutionary new methods and ideas. By presenting the range of styles vying for attention at a single point in time, the authors of 1900: Art at the Crossroads challenge the idea of art as a linear progression. The book is the lavish catalog of an exhibition organized by the Royal Academy of London and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Its schizophrenic theme is suggested in the title of the first essay, Art in 1900: Twilight or Dawn? The material is organized into concepts established by the French Academy two centuries earlier--still life, the nude, landscapes, and history paintings--plus sections with more modern relevance such as cityscapes and bathers. Arranging works by theme rather than by artist or movement allows for some brilliant juxtapositions: a classical naked Danae by Carolus-Duran is paired with an abstracted Degas nude- a sentimental study of crippled boys by Bastida with a vicious Munch mother-and-child (both paintings titled Inheritance). The preoccupations of fin-de-siècle society emerge- several different treatments of Salome with the severed head of John the Baptist, for example, embody male fears of the femme fatale and her threat to bourgeois values. The book ends with a useful 70-page section of artist biographies. 1900 is a beautifully produced and stimulating study of a pivotal point in European art history. --John Stevenson