French Art – Famous French Artists & Paintings

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French  art  has played a crucial role in many  art  movements, both past and present. It is perhaps best known for its influence in impressionism and the importance of the French capital, Paris, to the  art  world. Paris’ Louvre Museum has retained its status as one of the premier spots for  art  appreciation in the world and even houses The Mona Lisa, one of the world’s most famous paintings.

The key periods of French  art  include Prehistoric, Medieval, Renaissance & Mannerism, Baroque & Classicism, Rococo & Neoclassicism, 19th & 20th Century Contemporary movements.

The Merovingian dynasty of the Franks was significant in France and Germany., from the fifth century to the eighth century. The Merovingian period of the fifth century began a change in French  art  which was to continue up to the present day, with new movements being created all the time.

Merovingian’s catalyst for  art  development was continued on with Carolingian  art  over a 120-year period from 750 to 900. After Carolingian rule closed around 900, there was little more development or production of significant French  art  movements for some 60 years. France became a divided country at this point and there were not the right conditions for artistic creativity. The 10th and 11th centuries were dominated by local monastries who took a significant role in France’s  art  production at that stage.

Prior to the respected Gothic period that was the Romanesque  art  of Western Europe for around two hundred and fifty years, from 1000 A.D. to the middle of the 12th century in France. The name refers to the influence of, and return to, Roman styles and principles in architecture and  art  which this movement used.

Gothic  art  and architecture then took over French are for around 300 years. Whilst originating here, it actually spread quickly to other parts of Europe. The later International Gothic style had less of a reliance and prominence of religion than its former, and it then went onto the further develop from there into Renaissance  art . Gothic  art  included sculpture, panel painting, stained glass, fresco, and illuminated manuscript most prominently.

The French invasion of Italy in the late 15th century allowed the influence of the Renaissance to fully take hold of France’s  art  direction and leave a mark which remains strong even today.

The French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars brought in new influences which helped to push Renaissance  art  into new directions and bridge the gap between Renaissance  art  and the later styles of Romanticism and later Impressionism.

Romanticism brought French landscape painting to the forefront and later led to Gustave Courbet and the Barbizon school as key markers in the further changes to the status quo. The late 19th century brought French Symbolism from Gustave Moreau, the professor of Matisse and Rouault, as well as Odilon Redon.

Impressionism brought an array of French  art  to the forefront, led by Claude Monet and his use of landscapes and carefully prepared gardens to develop artistic coverage of light changes and vivid paintings. It started the progress towards the many new styles that we have today.

For contemporary  art , Impressionism, Cubism, Dada, Expressionism & Surrealism have roots in French  art . The early years of the twentieth century were dominated by experiments in colour and content which Impressionism and Post-Impressionism had unleashed. This led to the likes of cubism and fauvism, which themselves have inspired some of the new  art  movements that appear even today.


Source by Tom Gurney

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