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The Paris Fine Art Salon/Le Salon, 1791–1881

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Edited By James Kearns and Alister Mill

Following on from « Ce Salon à quoi tout se ramène » : Le Salon de peinture et de sculpture, 1791–1890, published in 2010 as an earlier volume in this series, this volume contains a selection of the papers given at the first major international conference to be held on the post-1789 Paris Fine Art Salon. Hosted by the University of Exeter in September 2013, the conference had its origins in the research project entitled Painting for the Salon? The French State, Artists and Academy, 1830–1852, funded in 2010–2012 by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, and its purpose was to situate findings of this research within the wider framework of the Salon’s nineteenth-century history. In this collection of twenty-three papers, fourteen in English, nine in French, established and new scholars of French art history examine the national and international artistic, political and cultural dimensions of the most important regular exhibition of contemporary art in the nineteenth-century world.
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Au seuil du Salon

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The term threshold suggests something that is at once a physical site or a division of space; but it is also a powerful metaphor for transition or transformation. Art historians are familiar these days with the terms liminal and liminality, perhaps with a nod to anthropological vocabulary,1 a meaning which also connects to the prevalence in British academic terminology of work which claims to be interdisciplinary, crossdisciplinary, or transdisciplinary (and apparently leaves little space for topics which can only claim singular disciplinary significance). Such considerations are precisely relevant to the subject of the Salon and its history, and where, in disciplinary terms, it should be positioned. Work done on the Salon has often originated in literary studies rather than Art History, and art-historical studies of the phenomenon have tended to be somewhat inward-looking.

Acknowledging and getting the measure of the mass of material which had been excluded from the history of modernism, and therefore denied proper scrutiny because it was consigned to the redundant realm of the pompier, academic or the official (usually erroneously assumed to be synonymous), has been a slow process, and one which evidently remains far from complete. The evidence of the Exeter conference suggested that there are numerous highly fruitful avenues being pursued into territory which remains all too little known. For the later seventeenth and eighteenth ← 15 | 16 → centuries, the example of the conférences of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture edited by Christian Michel and...

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