Some artists shielded themselves from contemporary life by taking refuge in a heroic past, evoking scenes from mythology (Degas, Moreau, Maxence), literature or music. Others, reacting to contemporary events like the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, presented realistic images of violent conflicts (Clairin), whilst Meissonier and Gustave Doré brought together the real and the allegorical. Certain artists, anguished and disorientated by the turmoil of their surroundings – particularly as the new century approached – aspired to find the answers to their most profound questions by giving themselves up to intuition, dreams and symbols.
It was by listening to his inner voice, by delving into "the mysterious innermost recesses of the mind", that the artist found a way to express Man's unique nature, his sorrowful and solitary destiny, the mystery of life and death.
CuratorCaroline Mathieu, chief curator, musée d'Orsay
Seoul, National Art Center, 4 June – 25 September 2011
Singapore, National Museum of Singapore, 25 October 2011 – February 2012