French Modern Arts Part I


In the ornament-loving Art nouveau (entrances to the subway stations in Paris by H. Guimard, 1899–1900) there was an anti-classical tendency at the turn of the 20th century. After 1900 iron was replaced by the reinforced concrete that A. Perret used in residential construction (residential building, Rue Franklin, Paris, 1903-04), but also in theaters and sacred buildings (Theater der Champs-Élysées, 1911-13; Church Notre- Dame, Le Raincy near Paris, 1923). Projects by E. Freyssinet (aircraft hangar, Orly, 1916–24, destroyed 1944), T. Garnier (slaughterhouse, Lyon, 1909–13), and H. Sauvage are also indicative of the development of French architecture before the Second World War (Tenement houses built on terraces, including Rue Vavin, Paris, 1912), R. Mallet-Stevens (Cubist tenement houses, Rue Mallet-Stevens, Paris, 1926/27), A. Lurçat (Villa Seurat, Paris, 1925/26; school in Villejuif, Département Val-de-Marne, 1931–33), Eugène Beaudouin (* 1898, † 1983) and Marcel Lods (* 1891, † 1978; Cité de la Muette, Drancy, Département Seine-Saint-Denis, 1932– 34; Open Air School, Suresnes, 1932–35). J. Prouvé promoted the use of prefabricated components (Maison du Peuple, Clichy, 1937–39, together withBeaudouin and Lods). Modern monumental classicism is represented by the buildings of the Paris World Exhibition of 1937, including the Palais de Chaillot (1935–37, by Jacques Carlu [* 1890, † 1976], Louis-Hippolyte Boileau [* 1878, † 1948] andLéon Azéma [*) 1888, † 1976]).

On the one hand, architecture after 1945 was long under the influence of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier, who lived in France from 1917 and who wanted to revolutionize residential construction with his Unités d’habitation (Marseille, 1947–52). Check to see more about France and other countries in the world.

With his church Notre-Dame in Ronchamp (1950–54) he pointed the way to an architecture characterized by plastic forms. On the other hand, many important buildings were designed by foreign architects. B.-L. Together with M. Breuer and P. L. Nervi, Zehrfuss designed the first three construction phases of the UNESCO building in Paris (1953–58), which received international recognition. After the Second World War, urban development was a focus. A. Perret made important contributions in this area with the reconstruction of Le Havre (1949 ff.), Émile Aillaud (* 1902, † 1988) with the “Les Courtilières” settlement in Pantin (1955-60), G. Candilis and his Partner S. Woods and A. Josic with the planning of the new city of Toulouse Le Mirail (1964-77) and Jean Renaudie (* 1925, † 1981) with the city center of Ivry-sur-Seine (1970-78). The doctrine advocated by Le Corbusier and others of dividing the city into functional zones (work, living, culture, recreation) was problematic. The settlements built by the Spaniard R. Bofill in the Paris area (“Les Arcades du Lac”, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, 1978-82; “Teatro” and “Palacio d ‘Abraxas’, Marne-la-Vallée, 1978-83).

On behalf of the state, but also large corporations or foundations, a partially futuristic-looking architecture based on clear geometric shapes was realized, especially in Paris. The expansion of the modern office district “La Défense” began as early as the 1960s.

The Dane Johan Otto von Spreckelsen (* 1929, † 1987) built the 110 m high office tower »La Grande Arche« (1984–89; continued from 1987 by Paul Andreu [* 1938]) as a counterpart to the Arc de Triomphe. On the site of the former Paris slaughterhouses emerged 1982-91 High tech Park (Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie) “La Villette” at the overall design to a style inspired by movie scenes landscaped B. Tschumi referring to forms of Russian Constructivism; the exhibition palace “Cité de la Musique” was built by Christian de Portzamparc (1984–90). The Italian R. Piano and the British R. Rogers set avant-garde accents in the old town of Paris with the construction of the Center National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou (1971–77). In his neighborhood, Claude Vasconi (* 1940, † 2009) and Georges Pencreac’h (* 1941) built a modern shopping center from 1972–87 (»Forum des Halles«; largely demolished in 2004). According to plans by the Italian architect Gae Aulenti (* 1927, † 2012), the Gare d’Orsay station was converted into a museum from 1983–86. From 1984 the Louvre was expanded according to the design of the American architect I. M. Pei (including the redesign of the entrance area in the form of a glass pyramid, 1989).

Other interesting examples of modern architecture in Paris are the “Institut du Monde Arabe” (1981–87) and the exhibition hall of the “Fondation Cartier” (1994) by J. Nouvel, the Ministry of Finance (1982–90) by Paul Chemetov (* 1928) andBorja Huidobro (* 1936) as well as the Paris Bibliothèque Nationale de France (1995) by D. Perrault, which represents a high point of the French “architecture of transparency”. Nouvel also came out with his “Wohnmaschinen” (living machines), cosmopolitan accents in the context of urban social housing, and Piano with the “Bercy II” shopping center near Paris (1987–90). Henri Ciriani (* 1936) built the Archaeological Museum in Arles (1992–93) and the Museum of the First World War in Péronne (1984–95). In addition to the sophisticated individual buildings, banal functional architecture is increasingly determining the periphery of large cities in particular.

Plastic and object art

With Rodin, modernism began in French plastic and sculpture. He was succeeded by the works of A. Bourdelle, who also took up inspiration from symbolism and art nouveau, and at times those of C. Claudel. A. Maillol’s sculptures are characterized by their simplicity and unity of form (“Méditerranée”, before 1905; Wintherthur, Oskar Reinhart Collection). R. Duchamp-Villon worked under the influence of Cubism, which H. Laurens also dealt with, which gave new impulses with his polychrome sculptures. Germaine Richier came to abstraction through the dissolution of the human figure into insect-like hybrid creatures. The work of the native Romanian C. Brancusi in Paris was momentous. The direction he took of the extreme reduction of form was linked to, among other things. H. Arp, H.-G. Adam and É. Hajdu on. Arp was one of the initiators of Dadaism and was one of the representatives of Surrealism. M. Duchamp made important contributions to both movements. His “readymades”, everyday objects introduced into art, from the 1920s were an essential prerequisite for the development of object art and Pop Art in the 1960s. The Spaniards J. González and P. Gargallo, the Russian O. Zadkine, the Lithuanian J. Lipchitz and the Swiss A. Giacometti took inspiration from the Parisian art climate and had a fruitful effect on French art. The Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel, founded in 1960, became important for the development of kinetic art in France. N. Schöffer, the Pole P. Kowalski, the Belgian P. Bury and the Greeks Takis and C. Xenakis also experimented with kinetics. J. Tinguely joined the neo-Dadaist movement of the Nouveau Réalisme, which among others. César, Arman, D. Spoerri and Niki de Saint Phalle belonged. From the mid-1960s onwards, the latter created large burlesque female figures out of painted polyester. The work F. Stahlys includes both organic-naturalistic and strictly abstract forms. The focus of J. R. Ipoustéguy’s work is the human figure, which he distorts into the grotesque. The small-format reconstructions of ancient ruins and fictitious excavation finds by Anne and P. Poirier belong to the direction of the Forensics. Jean-Marie Bertholin (* 1936) moves with his objects and environments in the area of ​​individual mythology, as does Étienne-Martin († 1995). With objects, space and light installations, which are located in the area neokonzeptueller art, artists such as P. Raynaud, Jean-Marc Bustamante (born 1952), Jean-Pierre Raynaud (* 1939), Jean-Luc Vilmouth (* 1952), Fabrice Hybert (* 1961), Ange Leccia (* 1952) and Philippe Perrin (* 1964). They address art, viewing habits, the life of artists, the art business, the modern consumer and communication society. C. Boltanski was engaged in actions and installations, among others. with European history (also in Germany, e.g. »Archive«, 1991; Hamburger Kunsthalle).

French Modern Arts 1