Academic art

Academic painting (v.1830-1880) is the paintings produced under the influence of an Academy of Fine Arts or, by extension, under the influence of an equivalent institution organizing the system of Fine Arts.

Most often, in art history in particular, the term academic painting covers the currents after the Neoclassicism and after the heyday of Romanticism dominated Western painting from the mid-nineteenth century, under the influence of the Academies Europe dedicated to the Fine Arts and especially the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris, then the more radiant. Thus, among the featured artists of academic painting, are the painters of the French Second Empire, Alexandre Cabanel, William Bouguereau and Jean-Leon Gerome.

The academy is characterized by a strong taste for historical themes and taste for the oriental. Academic painting borrows from the neoclassicism of David or of Ingres thematically, stylistically as well as technical (glaze). To his detractors as Émile Zola, this art is also printed by the bourgeois moralism of his time and a sense considered hypocritical of the eroticism unlike Renoir, which was presented as an artist more authentic.

The application of the word "firefighter" in academic art, which emerged in the nineteenth century (1888 according to Robert) to ridicule, is probably an allusion to the shiny helmets of some characters of great compositions of the time, which recalled those of firefighters. Some sources suggest the possibility of a mockery of the word "Pompéin (for Pompeii). Finally, the word evokes the pump, the pompous.

Academic painting is often opposed to the realistic painting of Courbet and the art of the Impressionists although we should not forget that at the time the borders were less clear: Toulmouche Augustus was the protector of Claude Monet, Jean -Leon Gerome helped Edouard Manet in its infancy, etc..

Academy and his teaching

The creation of academies

The Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture was created in 1648 by Louis XIV in order to ensure that painters and sculptors the status of their artist who was then challenged. The painter Charles Le Brun takes direction. The Academies advocating then a radically new method of teaching Fine Arts. This makes the works of the ancient Greco-Roman style and is mainly based on a concept which keywords are simplicity, grandeur, harmony and purity.

The Academy then consists of two sections: the Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and the Academy of Architecture. The anatomy, geometry, perspective and learning from the living model, were the foundations of education preparatory to painting and sculpture.

The teaching of the academy based on certain fundamental principles:

  • Asserting the primacy of drawing over color
  • Further study of the nude, anatomy
  • Focus on studio work in relation to work outdoors on the ground
  • Produce works "completed"
  • Imitating the old, to imitate nature

These principles were gradually frozen in time and eventually form a straitjacket in the eyes of some artists and critics from the late nineteenth century, against which they rebelled gradually. The Academy therefore catered to technical training (learning drawing, anatomy, color ...) and cultural (familiarity with the subjects of antiquity, the great authors ...) young artists. Applicants for admission to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (women only are admitted until 1897) must pass an entrance test consisting of running a naked figure drawn from the model living.

Control of the Academy

In the second half of the nineteenth century, crystallized opposition which deeply marked the history of art of the twentieth century: that of academic and "modernity", a term introduced by Baudelaire. The advance guard fell short, very slowly, that shoving the official art. The academic painters they have resisted with all their strength. They could afford because they ruled the Academy of Fine Arts at the Institute, in Salon, long a transit obliged to explain, come forward and obtain orders of the State. "Check the instruction, you will control the style, "said the academic painter Gerome. The Second Empire assimilated first naturalism of Millet (however honored with a medal at the Salon of 1864) or even more, to socialism Courbet: Courbet spent their eyes to the ugly painting, or none, because its works seemed meaningless.


Jean-Léon Gérôme Young Greeks were fighting cocks (1847), Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Far Exhibition

The innovative exhibit and had become known outside institutions, rewards and control official. It was not by choice but by obligation. This is the Salon, where crowded artists, critics and worldly, they wanted to win. Only the Salon jury was appointed by the Academy of Fine Arts, before being partially co-opted by the artists themselves received at the Salon. In 1855, Gustave Courbet erected the "Pavilion of Realism" in front of the Expo, where some of his paintings were not accepted. In 1863, both paintings were rejected at the Salon that, for the sake of appeasement, Napoleon III allowed the opening of an exhibition parallel. The Salon des Refuses was born. The Luncheon on the grass and allowed to Manet to be known by all a success of scandal. Critics were shocked and angered both the substance and in form. Manet did not push the nakedness of the flesh in the service of any agreement mythological and he gave the play of shadow and light infinitely more important than design. In 1874, several artists, including Monet, Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, organized an exhibition in the studio of photographer Nadar. Some art critics and audiences saw in their paintings as works of madmen and color blind. Newspapers multiplied cartoons and jokes. In Charivari, Louis Leroy laughed at these words of Monet Impression, Sunrise, representing the port of Le Havre "Print, I was sure. I also told myself, since I'm impressed, there must have felt there. "Actually, Pascale Bertrand recalls the word" impression "was already past fifteen years at center of every conversation in shops or cafes. By the early 1880s, each of the Impressionists preferred to explore its own path. That, says Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon, they were united by the ambition to "invent an objective expression of modern life, and that the battle was already won. Cézan, particularly preferred since its inception permanence to the fluidity of the universe Impressionist ( "I wanted to make of Impressionism something solid and lasting like the art museum, said he ). In the eighth and last Impressionist exhibition in 1886, it does not expose any more than Monet, Renoir and Sisley. Seurat and Paul Signac were there, however. The history of post-impressionism began concludes Bocquillon-Ferretti.

Defeat and evolution of academic

The year 1897 confirmed the defeat of Academism. Manet, Degas, Pissarro, Monet, Renoir, Sisley and Cezanne did indeed entering into a formal institution, the Musee du Luxembourg, reserved for state orders. The legacy Caillebotte, patron of impressionist painter and collector himself, was finally accepted, after three years of fierce fighting (only Degas paintings were originally admitted). It is the Council of State had decided, arguing that these works were part of the history of French painting. In fact, we had cut the pear in two: on 67 canvases, 29 were rejected. Gérôme was however threatened to resign his professorship of Fine Arts, describing these paintings as "rubbish", and seeing their entry into Luxembourg sign of "the end of the nation." It's a new audience had gathered, eager for innovation rather than formal confirmation of established codes. The avant-garde multiplied. The Academy and the Ecole des beaux-arts themselves became more eclectic note Barbillon Claire. After being dismissed under the Second Empire, except in certain forms sweetened, "naturalism was adopted by the painters most official of the Third Republic," she writes. As for symbolism, he meets "the artists formally fairly traditional," as Gustave Moreau, and radically innovative painters like Gauguin, Odilon Redon. The Salon des Independents (1884), and the Salon d'Automne (1903), hustled the monopoly of the official Salon. The appearance of a real market for art galleries, often run by fans of new trends, allowed artists to sell their works without going under the yoke of the Show and official commissions. In 1899, the paintings of Cézanne finally met success during a sale at the Galerie Georges Petit. In 1900, Triumph of Impressionism exhibition at the centennial of the French art. The Van Gogh retrospective in 1901 organized by the gallery Bernheim-Jeune strong brand Maurice Vlaminck, who exclaims that he likes better than Van Gogh's father! The same year, Picasso exhibited at Ambroise Vollard. In 1905, Marquet, Matisse, Derain and Vlaminck exhibit together at the Salon d'Automne. History repeats itself: the name of "beasts" which is then given a home for the exclamation of mocking criticism.

The opening of the Musee d'Orsay in 1986 will be an opportunity to heated debates. Many will see a restoration of "fire" or of "revisionism." André Chastel in 1973 but considered that there was "the benefits of replacing an overall disapproval, a legacy of old battles, a quiet curiosity and objective. "

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