By Cecil Jenkins
A quick historical past of France tells the tale of the formation of this grand country via its humans, nice occasions, and tradition. once we examine France we regularly evoke photos of excellent foodstuff and wine, the stylish boulevards of Paris, and the stylish shores of St. Tropez, however the greatest kingdom in Europe has even more to supply than vacationer sights.
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43 Whether they employed “high” or “low” media and aimed at elite or mass audiences were choices consciously made in relation to a complex field of production, marketing, viewing, and collecting. At one end of the spectrum, many socially critical academic artists, such as Jules Adler, operated within the older salons, annually exhibiting naturalist paintings expressive of social concern and addressed largely to the class in power, the bourgeoisie. Other artists—such as Jules-Félix Grandjouan, Bernard Naudin and, for a time, Kupka—abandoned painting altogether in favor of political satire in journals costing half a franc and addressed to the masses and left-wing intellectuals.
The popular image of Africa in pre–World War I France (embraced as an imagined primal spiritism), the response on the Left to French colonial theory, and the inflammatory debates in the press and Chamber of Deputies in 1905–1906 following the revelations of abuses against indigenous populations in the French Congo and Belgian Congo, form an inextricable part of allusions to “Africa” in the period 1905–1909. This anticolonial crisis reveals that the preference of some modernists for “primitive” cultures could be as much an act of social criticism as a search for a new art, despite their culture’s deeply problematic relation to issues of “race” in which the artists are equally implicated.
Openly anarchist artists like Vlaminck and Van Dongen were neither naive nor unprepared for politicized criticism of this sort. In the first chapter I take up the question of modernist heteroglossia in relation to the cultural “languages” of artistic subject, medium, and style and the class issues of venue and intended audience, considering a range of the artists and issues cited above: the styles, themes, and criticism of salon painting; the 13 Introduction journals and political content of the culture of satirical graphics; and the early careers of Van Dongen and Vlaminck.
A Brief History of France: An Introduction to the People, History and Culture by Cecil Jenkins