More passionate about Hals and Rembrandt until his discovery of Degas in 1876-1879, Huysmans admitted that this was a defining moment. And yet, his art criticism immediately accepted the possibility of a double modernity. The modernity of the painters of modern life and that of the explorers of dreams were not mutually exclusive. Here, Manet coexists with Rops and Redon. The desire Huysmans showed very early on to escape from the logic of church doctrine no doubt blurred the perception of his aesthetic choices.
The exhibition, therefore, aims to show that this early disciple of Zola secretly, and later openly, acted as the heir to Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil. And so the public is invited to step once more into a particular moment in European art and modern sensibility at the intersection of the Naturalist advance of the 1870s, the decadent movement of the 1880s-1890s and the “return” to the “Primitives” against a backdrop of Catholic renaissance. There have been few great writers so involved in this vast movement of the time.
CuratorsAndré Guyaux, professor of French literature at the University of Paris-Sorbonne
Stéphane Guégan, adviser to the President of the Public establishment of the Musées d'Orsay and de l'Orangerie
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