Joris-Karl Huysmans Art Critic. From Degas to Grünewald, in the Eye of Francesco Vezzoli

Richard Dumas et Juan Manuel Castro
Du November 26th, 2019 au March 01st, 2020
Giovanni Boldini-Le comte Robert de Montesquiou
Giovanni Boldini
Le comte Robert de Montesquiou, 1897
©RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski/DR

A key writer of the late 19th century, Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848-1907) was an art critic who is still little known or little understood by the general public. However, his contribution to the artistic press and the aesthetic debate was as decisive as the impact of his novel Against Nature.
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.

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  • André 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
  • And for the exhibition presented in Strasbourg:
  • Estelle Pietrzyk, Chief Curator of Heritage, Head of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasbourg
  • Artistic project realised in collaboration with Donatien Grau, Contemporary Programmes Consultant.
  • The exhibition is organised by the Musée d'Orsay and the Musée de l'Orangerie and the Museums of the City of Strasbourg.
  • It will be presented at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasbourg from 2 October 2020 to 17 January 2021.
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