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Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet Fathers of the Avant-garde – the “Forty-eighters”. Modernism Origin of the Avant-garde in Paris. Nadar, Portrait of Manet Early 1870’s. Nadar, Portrait of Courbet Late 1860’s.

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gustave courbet and edouard manet fathers of the avant garde the forty eighters
Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet

Fathers of the Avant-garde – the “Forty-eighters”

ModernismOrigin of the Avant-garde in Paris

Nadar, Portrait of Manet

Early 1870’s

Nadar, Portrait of Courbet

Late 1860’s


Gustave Courbet (French Realism painter, 1819-1877) Burial at Ornans, 1849 Thomas Couture (French Academic Classicism 1815–79) Romans of the Decadence, 1847


(top) Oscar G. Rejlander (Swedish-British, Victorian Art photography) The Two Ways of Life, 1857, combination albumen print from 33 negatives(below) Thomas Couture (French Academic Classicism 1815–79), oil on canvas, Romans of the Decadence, 1847, 15 x 25 ft


Victorian “Art” photographers took Academic paintings as their model of what art is.

Edwin Landseer (British), Windsor Castle

in Modern Times, 1841-5, oil on canvas

44 x 56” Victoria and Albert “at home”

Roger Fenton (British, 1819–1869)

The Queen and the Prince, wet plate



(left) Courbet (Avant-garde Realism) The Stonebreakers, 1849(right) William Bouguereau (French Academic Classicism, 1825-1905), Home From the Harvest, 1878


(left) Honoré Daumier (Realism) Third Class Carriage, o/c, 1862(right) William Bouguereau (Academic Classicism) Mother and Children, The Rest, 1879

disd ri paris commune destruction 1871
Disdéri, Paris Commune Destruction, 1871

Disdéri, Napoleon III

Empress Eugénie, and

Prince Eugène, c.1860

Disdéri, Bodies of Dead Communards, 1871

Daumier, The Uprising, 1860

Avant-garde art and politics are inseparablefor the generation of 1848 (the Forty-Eighters, Nadar’s “Republic of Mind”)

Edouard Manet, The Commune,

Lithograph, 1871

Political cartoon, Paris, c.1872,

showing Courbet with his foot on

the Vendome column toppled

during the Commune of 1871

Edouard Manet (French Realist Painter, 1832-1883) Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) oil on canvas, 1862
(left) Titian, Concert Champêtre (Italian Renaissance) 1510 (right) Edouard Manet (French Realism), Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe, 1862
Marcantonio Raimondi, Judgment of Paris, (engraving after Raphael), 1520 compared with Manet, Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe

Jean-Léon Gérôme (French academic painter, 1824-1904), Phrynee Before the Judges, 1861Daumier cartoon: “Venuses Again, Always Venuses” c. 1860


Critics joked about the confrontational

“masculinity" of Olympia and what might

be hidden beneath her hand.


Charles Baudelaire by


From reading, “The Modern Public and Photography,” what were Baudelaire’s

Complaints against photography?

Honoré Daunier, Nadar Elevating Photography to the Level of Art, lithograph, 1862, appeared in Le Boulevard (Parisian newspaper).

Edouard Manet, The 1867 World Exhibition,

Nadar’s balloon, The Giant, is upper right

Nadar created the first aerial views of

cities but first photographs were lost.


Peter Henry Emerson (Cuban-born British photographer and writer, 1856-1936) Gathering Waterlilies, 1886, platinotype, from Life and Landscape on the Norfolk BroadsPictorialismReading: “Hints on Art,” P.H. Emerson

Emerson extended this Helmholtzian idea of "vision as impression" to photography

peter henry emerson the haunt of the pike 1888 platinotype
Peter Henry Emerson, The Haunt of the Pike, 1888, platinotype

Emerson believed that true art was expressed only in "truth to Nature."

As a means of artistic expression, the camera is second only to the brush -- how successful the artist is with either depends entirely upon himself. All we ask is that the results be fairly judged by the only true standard - Nature.


(left) Peter Henry Emerson, The Haunt of the Pike, 1888, platinotype(right top) John Constable (English Romanticism), The Haywain, 1821(right below) Theodore Rousseau (French Barbison Landscape painter) Forest of Fontainebleau, Morning, 1850

Constable and Rousseau (right) are key

sources for Impressionist painting, the first

avant-garde modernist art movement to

break from the academic practice that had

held hegemony for centuries in Western art.


Theodore Rousseau (French, 1812 – 1867) Forest of Fontainebleau, Morning, oil on canvas, 1850 – “Barbison School” (Proto-Impressionism)


First Impressionist Exhibition 15 April 1874: “Exhibition of the Société Anonyme of Painters, Sculptors, and Printmakers”(left) Nadar (Gaspard-Felix Tournachon) (1820-1910) Nadar¹s Studio at 35 Boulevard des Capucines’(right) Claude Monet, Boulevard des Capucines, 1873 (31 1/4 x 23 1/4")


Monet, Railroad Bridge at Argenteuil, 1874(right) Anonymous photographer, The Argenteuil Railway Bridge, c.1895 Subjects of modern art - Modern Life new technologies and progress, capturing the moment and the transitory nature of modern experience

The Impressionist Eye is, in short, the most advanced eye in human evolution

Jules Laforgue


Peter Henry Emerson (Pictorialism)Poling the Marsh Hay, 1886, platinotype,from Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads.(right) Camille Pissarro, (French Neo-Impressionism), The Gleaners, 1889


(left) Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) In the Omnibus, drypoint and aquatint, 1890-91(right) Suzuki Harunobu (1724-1770) Women and Child, woodblock print, c.1750Ukiyo-e prints were a key source for modernist form and content.

avant garde japonisme
Avant-garde Japonisme

Hiroshige Ando, Plum Estate,

Kameido, 1857, woodblock print

Van Gogh, Plum tree in Bloom

(after Hiroshige), oil on canvas

1887 (Paris)

The Montmartre gallery of Samuel Bing was next door to van Gogh’s Paris apartment.

Bing kept thousands of Japanese prints in stock. Vincent became an avid collector.


Paul Gauguin directly appropriates Japanese

perspective and composition and the Modernist

concept of a picture as an autonomous creation

- not merely a representation of an objective subject.

Paul Gauguin (Post Impressionism)

Vision After the Sermon:

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, 1888

(Pont Aven)

Hiroshige Ando, Plum Estate,

Kameido, 1857, Japanese

woodblock print

paul c zanne french post impressionist painter 1839 1906 the basket of apples ca 1895 oil on canvas
Paul Cézanne (French Post-Impressionist Painter, 1839-1906) The Basket of Apples, ca. 1895, oil on canvas.

Cézanne is the “Father

of Modern Painting” because

he defied the very principles

of optics that brought

photography into being.


Peter Gelassi, Before PhotographyPhotography relies on two scientific principles :1) A principle of optics on which the Camera Obscura is based2) Principle of chemistry, that certain combinations of elements, especially silver halides, turn dark when exposed to light (rather than heat or exposure to air) was demonstrated in 1717 by Johann Heinrich Schulze, professor of anatomy at the University of Altdorf

Leonardo Da Vinci, Draughtsman Using a Transparent Plane to Draw an Armillary Sphere, 1510

Would Leonardo’s draughtsman see what Cézanne pictured?Modern painting is a liberation from optical “truth.” Photography – the most modern art medium and the child of both science and art – was thus in a paradoxical position. The problem was to discover modern photographic form.

Cézanne, Still Life with Plaster

Putto, 1893, oil on canvas


(left) Pablo Picasso (Early Cubism) Reservoir at Horta, 1907(right) Piero della Francesca (Italian Early Renaissance) An Ideal Townscape, 1470

Cubism was a reversal of Renaissance illusionism. Cubist form displays multiple perspectives, multiple and arbitrary lighting sources, forms that open onto each other and do not recede. This new Modernist vocabulary, the invention of painters, vastly expanded the possibilities for photography.

avant garde modernist photography alfred stieglitz and the photo secession
“In an unprecedented show for the National Arts Club [New York] in 1902, Stieglitz brought together photographs by pictorialists…. He titled the exhibition “The Photo-Secession,” to indicate a revolt from hackneyed style and technique as well as from lax artistic standards.”

Alan Trachtenberg, notes to

“Pictorial Photography” by Alfred Stieglitz

Avant-garde Modernist photographyAlfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession

1902 publication

clarence white american 1871 1925 portrait of alfred stieglitz 1908 gum platinum print
Clarence White (American, 1871-1925) Portrait of Alfred Stieglitz, 1908gum platinum print

Stieglitz, photograph of

Fountain, by Marcel Duchamp,1917


(left) Alfred Stieglitz, 291--Picasso-Braque Exhibition, 1915, platinum print(right) Stieglitz at the Little Galleries of Photo-Secession ('291')291 Fifth Avenue, New York, opened in 1905

291 gallery was in the apartment vacated by Edward Steichen, who designed and decorated

the exhibition space.

Cubist collages exhibited with African sculpture

Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946), Watching for the Return, 1894, photogravure for Camera Notes, quarterly publicationof the New York Camera Club
stieglitz fifth avenue winter 1892 gelatin dry plate
“My picture, Fifth Avenue, Winter, is the result of a three hours stand during a fierce snow-storm on February 22nd, 1893, awaiting the proper moment.… I remember how upon having developed the negative of the picture I showed it to some of my colleagues. They smiled and advised me to throw away such rot…. Such were the remarks made about what I knew was a piece of work quite out of the ordinary, in that it was the first attempt at picture making with the hand camera in such adverse and trying circumstances from a photographic point of view.

Stieglitz, “The Hand Camera – Its Present Importance,” 1897

Stieglitz, Fifth Avenue, Winter, 1892, gelatin dry plate
Alfred Stieglitz, A Bit of Venice, 1894, photogravure

for Camera Notes, quarterly publicationof the New York Camera Club


Invented by Karel Klí in 1879, photogravure is a photomechanical process (heliogravure in French) using an etching method to reproduce the appearance of a continuous range of tones in a photograph.

Alvin Langdon Coburn (British working in the US and Britain,1882-1966)

Self-Portrait, ca. 1908, photgravure

Stieglitz, Flatiron Building, 1902, photogravure.

Hiroshige Ando, Plum Estate,

Kameido, 1857, woodblock print


Alfred Stieglitz, The Hand of Man, photogravure From Camera Work No. 1. February 1903(right) Claude Monet, Saint-Lazare Station, 1877Pictorialism and Impressionism

In 1903 Stieglitz launched, edited and published Camera

Work - a magazine which became world famous and

continued publication until 1917 (50 issues). Cover by

Edward Steichen is in the Arts & Crafts aesthetic of

William Morris.

Alfred Stieglitz, The Steerage, 1907, photogravure

"There were men and women and children on the lower deck of the steerage.... I longed to escape from my surroundings and join them.... A round straw hat, the funnel leaning left, the stairway leaning right.... round shapes of iron machinery... I saw a picture of shapes and underlying that, the feeling I had about life..."



“As analytic cubism emerged, Alfred Stieglitz, who was still championing pre-modernist Pictorialism, underwent a transformation in his aesthetic thinking.” Hirsch

Picasso, Ma Jolie, 1911

Analytic Cubism

Alfred Stieglitz, The Steerage, 1907, photogravure

“There were two stages in his life: at first he produced somewhat romanticized pictures of an Impressionistic style, then later moving over to realism of a high order.”

Robert Leggett

A History of Photography

Edward Steichen (Luxembourgeois-born American Photographer, 1879-1973), Flatiron Building, 1907, cyanotype - gum bichromate - platinum print

Pictorialism / Photo-Secession

“The Pictorialists played on photography's ability to recall memories and associations, yet they also recognized that such memories are rarely sharply defined but more often dreamlike and indistinct, composed of nothing more than a small incident or passing glance.”

Edward Steichen, Self-Portrait with Brush and Palette, 1902, gum bichromate

Reinforcing the idea of a singular masterpiece, the pictorialists manipulated their images so extensively in the darkroom that, often, the result was a unique image that could not be duplicated.

Steichen, The Pond, Moonrise, 1905, gum-bichromate – platinotype

Pictorialism / Photo-Secession

Edward Steichen, The Big White Cloud, Lake George, 1903. Carbon print

Pictorialism / Photo-Secession

“For practically the first time in photography, the specificity and individuality of the objects in front of the camera were of no importance, but were only a vehicle for the expression of an idea. By divorcing photography from its scientific heritage, pictorial photographers also divorced it from reality.”

Gertrude Käsebier (American Photographer, 1852-1934)

Blessed Art Thou among Women, 1899. Platinotype

Pictorialism / Photo-Secession

Gertrude Käsebier, Manger, ca. 1905, platinotype

Pictorialism / Photo-Secession

“To name an object is to suppress three-quarters of the enjoyment to be found in the poem .. . suggestion, that is the dream.” Stéphane Mallarmé French Symbolist poet

J.M. Cameron, 1865

Clarence H. White (American, 1871-1925), Untitled (Nude Study), 1906-09 platinotype

Pictorialism / Photo-Secession

Alfred Stieglitz,Georgia O’Keeffe, 1920, Gelatin Silver Print

Georgia O'Keeffe, (1887-1988)Large Dark Red Leaf on White, 1925

In 1922, Stieglitz continued to explore this inner psychological theme, but he returned to nature and symbolist theory and isolated the sky as a surrogate heart..
Alfred Stieglitz, Equivalent, 1931. Gsp.

Stieglitz believed that his Equivalents were the pure expression of his inner state of being.

He rarely, if ever, explained in words what actual feelings or emotions were present when particular pictures were made, however. He expected that his audience would have an intuitive perception of their meaning that was parallel to the instinct that caused them to be created.

- The Getty Museum

Video: American Masters Production

Alfred Stieglitz

The Eloquent Eye

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