Although the traditional view of French art as a steady progression from the representational to the abstract, has long since been rejected, the meanings of modernism have never been examined in all their complexity. This book - and the exhibition it accompanies - will address this void. The pieces in the exhibition will be selected from the private collection of Stanley and Ursula Johnson.
Although the Johnson Family Collection is well known, only one substantial exhibition from the holdings has ever been shown: Cubism and La Section d'Or in 1991. This is a rare opportunity to showcase a substantial selection of items, which will constitute an exhibition both enjoyable for the general public and thought-provoking for the specialist. During the French Revolution, artists began to give as much attention to scenes from contemporary battles as their predecessors had to those from the Bible and antiquity.
This trend was accelerated by the two greatest French Romantic artists, Gericault and Delacroix, who found heroism and pathos not only in war, but also in peace. Among the Impressionists, Manet in particular was notorious for his increasingly sophisticated compositions drawn from everyday bourgeois life, blurring the boundaries between portraiture and genre painting. Pissarro, on the other hand, became especially well known for his experiments incorporating timeless peasant figures into the agricultural landscape of Normandy, while Cezanne found classicism in modern representations of traditional themes such as bathers, and Van Gogh produced one of his most astonishing images in his portrait of Dr Gachet.