ARTS & SOCIETIES
 

LETTER OF SEMINAR 9

Centre d’Histoire de Sciences Po

 
 
 

ART IN THE REPUBLIC


Richard Thomson
The Troubled Republic : Visual Culture and Social Change in France, 1889-1900.


Rodolphe Rapetti
New Look at the Concept of the Image in Late Nineteenth-Century Art.


Editorial Director: Laurence Bertrand Dorléac
Editorial Assistant: Elodie Antoine
Translator: David Ames Curtis and Françoise Jaouën

PREVIOUS LETTER

THE INFLUENCE OF THE SAINT-SIMONIANS AND THE IDEA OF ART IN THE VANGUARD OF THE SOCIAL REFORM

BODY MORALITY

DANDIES

The Model Child

The beautiful and the useful

New Publics, Between Utopia and Marketing

Photographs by amateurs

the market, at the start




 
EDITORIAL


         Society is not immune to what Richard Thomson calls a visual culture that in turn plays upon peopleís mentalities. In the case of the French Republic between 1889 and 1900, he sees an opportunity to depart from the established categories of art history, which often limits itself to studying avant-gardes while downplaying the notion of the subject. What he discovers in the way of a connection between images and the societal debates is of precious value: there is the decadence of the nation, of the nationís body; the nagging desire for revenge against Germany (art works showing this much more than literature); the creation of Darwinian representations of the crowd and of the working classes, the dangerous classes; the religious question, at the very moment when the Republic, weakened by the Boulangist crisis and the Dreyfus Affair, had to soften its anticlerical positions; and the emergence and spread of signs of a kind of sexuality whose harshness and crudeness offered a reflection of relations between men and women. None of all that remained alien to art, which was less an illustration than a reservoir of strong sensations and new manners.

         With Thomsonís aid, it is not difficult to grasp how wrong it would be for us to treat the world of forms in isolation, sparing it the weight of history. This world does not follow upon political, social, and economic history but acts, rather, in accordance with its own tendencies and rhythms. And while it is affected by the times, it plays just as largely upon its influence over the forward march of societies. The author has broken down the barriers between the various fields of the human sciences in order to arrive at an original history of peopleís mentalities. We should be delighted that his book, The Troubled Republic: Visual Culture and Social Change in France, 1889-1900, is to be translated and published in France. Rodolphe Rapetti, renowned for his writings on nineteenth-century art, responds to him after his own fashion, recalling to what extent there exists genre of original art history that revitalizes our view of an apparently already well-known object.

Laurence Bertrand Dorléac




Letter published with the support of the Foundation of France

Contact