The period from 1850 to 1950 was one of immense change in France. Artists moved from realistically depicting the world around them, to creating purely abstract compositions. At the same time, there was political and social upheaval. The country went from monarchy to republic, to empire, and back to republic, and France was involved in countless major wars. Trains, and eventually cars, transported people quickly around the country, and Paris was transformed from a maze of medieval streets to a series of grand boulevards.
Artists embraced this new, modern world. Many turned away from traditional subjects, such as history and mythology, and instead began depicting scenes of everyday life, with a focus on light and color. Conversely, some artists reinterpreted traditional subjects (like still lifes and bathers) in an entirely new manner. Arranged chronologically, the works in this exhibition explore these radical changes in French art over a span of only 100 years.
Credit: Louis Valtat (French, 1869–1952). Apples, 1910. Oil on canvas. Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. R.A. Young, 2002.014