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Publication Date: 
February 1, 2020
Trim Size: 
7.7in. x 4.9in. x 1.1in.
About This Item: 
First published in 1883, but never before translated into English, this collection of J.-K. Huysmans' art criticism reveals the author of Against Nature to be as combative in his aesthetic opinions as he was in his literary ones. At a time when the Impressionists were still being ridiculed, or worse still ignored, Huysmans defiantly proclaimed Degas to be the best painter in France. He filled his pages with analyses of the works of artists whose genius and popularity have been confirmed by time: Gustave Caillebotte, Paul Gauguin, Mary Cassatt, Edouard Manet, Berthe Morisot, Odilon Redon and Gustave Moreau. Huysmans intersperses his reviews of these independent artists with those of the annual Official Salon, whose conventional and dryly academic works he lambasts with his customary gusto and invective. This is the first complete translation of L'Art moderne, and includes 200 black and white illustrations, notes and a glossary of artists. 'Few late nineteenth-century art critics were more clearly on the right side of history than the early J.-K. Huysmans. For to read his essay on the 'Exhibition of the Independents in 1880' is to discover in retrospect an anticipation of the twentieth century's aesthetic preferences. In privileging Degas over Manet, Huysmans was already distancing himself from his Naturalist maitre, Zola. That journey was to be completed the following year with the publication of his most famous work, Against Nature, which also marks an art-historical shift in the Symbolist direction of Gustave Moreau and Odilon Redon, and away from the quest for modern life embodied in his accounts of Impressionists refuses in 1880, 1881 and 1882. These essays stand in contradistinction to the vitriol he pours on the official Salons of 1879, 1880, 1881 and 1882... King displays both considerable knowledge and easy humour in the tone of his introduction. His detailed notes and glossary of artists are useful, but particularly appealing to the reader will be the inclusion, in the main body of the text, of small black-and-white illustrations for a number of paintings referred to, some taken from the original Salon catalogues' Nicholas White in The Times Literary Supplement

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