Dream States: Puvis de Chavannes, Modernism, and the Fantasy of France

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Overview

"Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898) was a towering figure in late nineteenth-century France. The country's greatest public painter, he created murals that decorated museums in Amiens, Rouen, and Lyons as well as major buildings in Paris - most notably the Pantheon, the Sorbonne, and the city hall. Critics from the political right, left, and center, the avant-garde, the Academy, and the state all agreed on the importance of Puvis's murals. There was much controversy, however, over the meaning of these works." This illustrated book is the first full-length examination of Puvis's murals and their critical reception during the artist's lifetime. Jennifer L. Shaw explains that Puvis's paintings were imagined to embody a vision of France. Although his regional images, allegories of the French heritage, and evocations of the nation as an embracing motherland were all part of a grand tradition of public art, Puvis's painting style was more closely alligned with the avant-garde. Rather than providing a specific narrative or allegory of France, Puvis's murals provoked viewers to experience their own fantasies of Frenchness; rather than using the close brushwork favored by most of his contemporaries, Puvis used large, flat areas of color to render his subjects. Shaw persuasively argues that Puvis was the only painter of the period to unite the traditions of public art and modernist form. Her original analysis of Puvis's art underlines his importance to the history of modernism; her examination of the public response to his art illuminates debates about art, subjectivity, and national identity in fin-de-siecle France.
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Editorial Reviews

Steven Z. Levine
Elegantly written,original and provocative,this book is a useful contribution to discourses on the historical origins of modernism in the arts and nationalism in international politics.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300083828
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2002
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 7.86 (w) x 10.31 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 High Art's Other Body 13
2 Dream's Body: The Sacred Grove Dear to the Arts and Muses 43
3 Dreaming the French Patrimony 65
4 The Epistemology of Dream: The Sorbonne Mural 99
5 Imagining the Motherland: Modernism and Fantasy in the Hotel de Ville 143
Conclusion: The Banquet for Puvis de Chavannes 185
Notes 203
Index 239
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