THE MIDDLE AGES
The oldest preserved literature in French dates back to the 8th century and consists of religious texts translated from Latin. Only with fully developed feudalism in the 11th century did more significant original poetry emerge. The epic was the important genre. The oldest is the epic about war deeds, chansons they give. Several of them have Karl the Great as the central figure, the other Count William of Toulouse. The masterpiece, “The Roland Song,” written in the early 1100’s, belongs to the former group and is about Roland’s and his friend Olivier’s fight against the Saracens. Friendship and betrayal are the main themes of the epic. Epics soon came to collect subjects from elsewhere, first from ancient heroic tales (le roman antique), then from Celtic myths (le roman breton). The lofty ideals prevail, and in the Breton romance, love and its conflict with feudal fidelity demands become the main theme. While the chansons de geste are anonymous and pretend to portray truth, the breton novelists of the novel, the foremost of them have Chrestien de Troyes, and they pretend to be nothing but fiction. Here we find – in “Tristan and Isolde” – one of the great subjects of French literature through the ages: forbidden love and all-encompassing passion. Celtic fabric is also treated in versnoveller, lais, with Marie de France as the main name. Near these genres, but not infrequently parodying them, stands another kind of verse news, fabliaun, amusing tales of, among other things. adultery.
- Countryaah: Population and demographics of France, including population pyramid, density map, projection, data, and distribution.
While the epics predominated in Northern France, the Hovish lyricism experienced its heyday in southern France, where the language was Provencal. Trubadures, often of low burden, courted distinguished ladies with songs, which they sometimes performed themselves. Great formal skill marks the troubadour poem and the subjects could vary; sharp satirical songs, sirventés, belonged to several troubadours’ repertoire. The Trubadur poems spread throughout Europe and became important for all later love poetry.
During the 13th century, the love motif developed into great allegorical works. The first part of “The novel about the rose”, written by Guillaume de Lorris in the beginning of the 13th century, depicts in hunting form how a young man comes to the Garden of Love and encounters a number of allegorical figures. While an idealistic high-minded view prevails in this first part, in the much longer continuation, written by Jean de Meun in the 1270’s, a naturalist prevails.
The dark outlook on life was marked in the following period, the time of the 100-year war. Against the hatred of Jean de Meun, Christine de Pizan turned in her poems, but the women’s disdain, in ever more severe form, left its mark on the poetry. The most prominent poets of the period were François Villon, who portrayed thieves, whores and other criminals in ballads and roundabouts.
With Louis XI (regent 1461–83), the political situation in France stabilized. The influence of the Italian Renaissance was clear. Les rhétoriqueurs(active 1450-1520) drove the form cult far. Clément Marot sought to free the lyric from art and created a more modern lyric in the medieval tradition. An important center of the lyric was Lyon, where Maurice Scève wrote scholarly, esoteric poetry and Louise Labé perfected sonnets in the aftermath of Petrarca and Bembo. The French Renaissance culminated with the Pleiades, a group of seven poets with Pierre de Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay in the lead. The program, designed in du Bellay’s “Deffence, Et Illustration de La Langue francoyse” (‘The Defense and Glorification of the French Language’, 1549), was to create a French literature using the language’s richness of old words and dialect words and its opportunity for new formations. Ronsard stood for a rich lyrical production in many genres: hymns, odes, sonnets and the unfinished epic “La Françiade” (1572). The prose got a boost with Rabelais’s comic and satirical novels about “Pantagruel” (1532) and “Gargantua” (1534), told with an ingenious use of all the possibilities of the language, with Margaret of Navarre’s short stories (“Heptaméron”, 1559) and with Montaignes skeptical and wise thoughts about man, life and death in his “Essais” (1580); the background to these is the religious wars.
Baroque and precocious
The wars of religion sharpened the contradictions in society and left its mark on the literature. Huguenot Guillaume du Bartas wrote Christian epics, e.g. “La Sepmaine, ou Création du monde” (“The Week, or the Creation of the World”, 1578), and his cousin Agrippa d’Aubigné a blood-curdling epic about the persecution of the Huguenots (“Les tragiques”, 1616). Jean de Sponde and others wrote metaphorically lyric about death. The Baroque continued during the 17th century under the impetus of Marinism. Théophile de Viau, Saint-Amant and Tristan l’Hermite dictated the solitude of nature and painted almost surreal visions. The question of human existence also included Pascal in his “Pensées” (1669-70; “Thoughts”), reflections on man and the silence of God.
The king’s role as a cultural environment had been weakened by the religious wars. A new environment emerged in the early 17th century with the lounges, which were led by women and where spiritual conversation and elegant poetry were cherished (Hôtel de Rambouillet). The essence of love and the position of women were important topics of discussion in the salons and gradually a pronounced feminism developed. The women’s reading gave the novel a boost. The heroic novel with the great success “L’Astrée” (1–2, 1607–10) by Honoré d’Urfé, with its intricate emotional analysis, became the leading novel genre. The genre was ridiculed by Charles Sorel in “Le berger extravagant” (“The Mad Shepherd”, 1627) and also comic novels of various kinds were written, but nothing stopped the shepherd’s victory train.
The salons aimed to refine the customs and purify the language. The demand for a more chastened language – which meant breaking with the Renaissance ideal, the rich language – was also raised outside the salons. François Malherbe. In the first half of the 17th century, Jean Chapelain and others, influenced by Italian Aristotle’s commentary, developed a classicist doctrine that drew sharp boundaries between the genres and set the rules for the three entities too dramatically. In 1635, the Académie française was founded with the task of safeguarding the purity of the language. French classicism, whose guiding principle was reasonable, was codified in Boileau’s “L’art poétique” (1674; “Skald-art”) and left its mark on the rich poetry of Louis XIV.first time. One can see a connection with the political stabilization that took place in the country, where power was concentrated to the King and Paris. The head and the city set the norm.
Human nature became the main subject of literature and drama the most important genre, with Corneille, Racine and Molière as the most brilliant names (see the section Dramaand theater, below). A corollary to Racine’s psychological analysis of how emotions gain dominance over reason can be found in Madame de La Fayette’s novel “La princesse de Clèves” (1678). La Rochefoucauld argued in sharply worded “Maximes” (1665) that human virtues are merely disguised cargoes. In his “Les caractères” (1688; “Characters and time pictures”), La Bruyère portrayed different types of people. A little side by side stands La Fontaine, whose “Contes” (1665) and “Fables” (1668) contain a sense of nature and playful charm. The great time of the private prose began now with letter writing and memoirs and with Madame de Sévigné’s “Lettres” (‘Letter’; posthumous publisher 1725) as an artistic highlight.
During the first half of the 18th century they broke through the ideas developed by Descartes and his successors. The basic idea was that man, by virtue of his reason, can create a better world and achieve personal happiness. Secularization was now a fact. Literature was given the task of conveying the enlightenment ideas; important genres were poetry and satire. At the same time, the influence of the bourgeoisie increased, and the circle of denizens of literature expanded. The novel became more important and the theater turned to the bourgeoisie. Marivaux wrote elegant novels and theater plays about prejudices, social ambitions and the ambivalence of emotions. A darker vision and stronger passion characterized abbé Prévost’s novels, eg. “Manon Lescaut” (1731).
While these authors provided realistic and sometimes critical portrayals of society, the enlightenment’s banners discussed the foundations of society. Montesquieu showed in “Lettres persanes” (1721; “Persian letters”) a mirror for France, and in “De l’esprit des lois” (1748; “About the spirit of the law”) he drew the outlines for a good society. Voltaire, the foremost of the Enlightenment struggle, appeared in a number of writings in different genres for the dissemination of the Enlightenment ideas and took a stand on the issues of the time. After the exile in Britain 1726–29, he spread knowledge of British society and literature (“Lettres sur les Anglais”, 1734). The philosophical account, a short story that develops an idea, he happily used to express his views: “Zadig ou La destinée” (“Zadig or Destiny”, 1747), “Micromégas” (1752). His worldview, which was determined by deism and developmental optimism, was radicalized in the 1750’s. The novel “Candide” (1759) is a lavishly written satire against hypocrisy in many areas, against the optimistic worldview and, ultimately, against the belief in the good of man.
Its unified manifestation received the enlightenment in “La grande Encyclopédie” (1751–72), published by Diderot and d’Alembert and written by a number of philosophers, scientists and writers. The radical enlightenment meant atheism and (at Helvétius) a purely mechanical worldview, where the soul was reduced to physiological reactions. Secularization made morality a private matter, and with happiness, the goal of morality, one often came to understand the pleasure of the mind. Sexual drive became the subject of Choderlos de Laclo’s well-composed letter novel “Les Liaison’s Dangereuses” (1782; “Dangerous Relations”) and Marquis de Sade’s novels.
Pre-romance and neoclassicism
By the mid-18th century, a reaction to rational beliefs and to the absolute concept of taste in classicism appeared. The bourgeoisie had grown in strength and with that belief in the individual. Montesquieu claimed in “About the spirit of the law” that a people’s society and morality were determined by the climate. As early as the 18th century, an emotional aesthetic that led away from the theory of rationalism was launched by Jean Baptiste Dubois. Relativism and individualism asserted themselves in various fields.
The new one appeared, in different ways, to two of the foremost writers of the time, who both stand on the basis of the Enlightenment. Rousseau denied in his prize-writing to the Dijon Academy in 1749 that arts and sciences helped to refine the customs and painted in the prize-drawing 1754 the image of a primitive ideal society without private ownership and characterized by equality. In the letter novel “Julie ou La nouvelle Héloïse” (1761; “Julie or The New Héloïse”), he develops the dream of a love without ownership. In “Émile” (1762) he shows how an authority-free upbringing is to be realized. “Confessions” (1765-70; “Confessions”) is a reckless subjective self-disclosure. In the 1750’s, Diderot pleaded for a more natural drama form, adapted to depict bourgeois relations with the family relations at the center. Subjectivity and irrationalism characterize Diderot’s novels, e.g. “Le neveu de Rameau” (1762; “Rameau’s nephew”) and “Jacques le Fataliste” (1773; “Jacques the fatalist”), who are full of philosophical reflection and whimsical whim.
During the Revolution, political speech art celebrated triumphs (Mirabeau, Danton, Robespierre). The lyricist of the time was André Chénier, who also came to distance himself from the horror and then executed. In his lyric, he represented the neoclassicalism that is also found in the art of the revolutionary era. His poems, cast in ancient forms, e.g. “Élégies” and “Iambes”, the latter written as he waited for the execution, foreshadowed in his directness and lyricism the romance.
The lyrical and psychological novel, represented by Madame de Staël, Chateaubriand and Benjamin Constant, can be said to be the first of the great stages of the 19th century novel. Around 1820 came the relatively late breakthrough of French romance. The Romantics wanted to reach deeper insights than their predecessors, wanted in free and experimental forms to be visionary and to embody the confusing diversity of life. Through myths and symbols, and with the help of the imagination, one would acquire deep knowledge of a world that was considered a living organism. The romance in general meant an ideological reorientation, where emotion became the key psychological concept, the people sociological, the nation political and history one of the philosophical.
With the romance came an individualistic lyric, often wordy and eloquent, with big gestures and, not infrequently, much irony, eg. at Alphonse de Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Alfred de Musset and Gérard de Nerval. The romantic narrative art meant an opening to a certain historical realism, such as Hugo, Prosper Mérimée and Alfred de Vigny. Literature in general entered into the service of the great ideals, was not only, as before, a moderate and didactic imitation of idealized nature, was not yet a goal in itself. But the romantics were often aware of the gap between ideal and reality and the vanity of much human endeavor, which could be expressed in pessimism and disappointment.
Historical realism and disillusionment were two preconditions for the realistic novel that would become the revelatory chronicle of its own time. A transitional man was Balzac, who partly gave an exhaustive sociological picture of early 19th century France, and partly imposed his exact documentation on a personal vision based on romantic elements such as myth and organic holistic thinking. He also linked to popular literature of the time, to melodrama and horror novel, working with exaggerations and spectacular heroes. The audience’s demands for exciting adventures were met, often in serial form, by popular literary writers, e.g. Alexandre Dumas d.a. and Eugène Sue, who in turn influenced the so-called fine literature.
Stendhal was another guide to realism. According to him, the novel should be a mirror and a form of truth-telling. He loved the facts and wanted to reveal. But he was still more interested in strong suffering than external reality, and he liked to tell a Romanesque story. Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” (1856–57) is a perfect and meticulous depiction of trivial everyday life, with neither exaggeration nor understatement, but with irony and distance, and with more description than narrative.
The classicism’s belief in providence and the enlightenment’s belief in reason and progress were followed by romanticism’s belief in an idea world. This, however, eventually proved incapable of keeping existence together, and its fragmented character became increasingly apparent. The romantic turned things into symbols while the realist contented himself with critically describing them. The naturalist tried to explain why something is as it is, for example on natural sciences. by exposing it to a form of case study. Zola published a veritable fresco of the Second Empire of France, “Les Rougon-Macquart” (1871–93), a family history of 20 bands that became a kind of naturalism monument. Towards the end of the century, the novelists to some extent abandoned history and society to return to the self and individual psychology, now in a global and decadent perspective,
Romantic lyricism was guided by a.k.a. Théophile Gautier towards a more ascetic and classifying ideal that led to the so-called parnasso poets worship of the perfectly beautiful form and of texts which serve no purpose other than to be themselves. Baudelaire’s poems had their roots in both romantic poetry and parnass lyric, and although he was to some extent a traditionalist, he wrote beautifully about the ugly, let the beauty grow out of evil, and invested in the suggestive magic of the language. It was the magic the followers took hold of: the deliberately ambiguous Rimbaud, who would rather create disorder than make himself understandable, the anti-rhetorical impressionist Verlaine, who in rhythmically sounding verses would rather convey impressions than describe something exactly, and Mallarmé, the symbolist in front of others, who dissolved the interaction between poem and life, between words and reality, made themselves unreadable in their quest to create a new reality and even dreamed of getting rid of the language. Baudelaire was the great impetus, Rimbaud and Mallarmé the modern (istic) poetry portal figures.
Parnass lyricism, realism, naturalism and symbolism thus dominated the late 19th century, and were in very chronological parallel. Around the turn of the century, naturalism had played its part. The 20th century was characterized by a huge variety, different “isms” which were often difficult to distinguish. This was due to the fact that the authors sought more than before the specific personal expression that would do justice to their own interpretation of reality. The two world wars, the discovery of the importance of the unconscious, the conviction that language and reality do not correspond as well as one once thought, characterized many people’s view of man’s miserable fate. But at the same time, with all experimental literature, very conventional books were written after the nineteenth-century realistic and popular literary patterns, as well as philosophical essays in the traditional spirit of new ideas.
In the lyric, the surrealists continued the divide between poetry and the audience initiated by the symbolists. Like the Dadaists, they said no to all old values. But in contrast to Dadaism, surrealism was also constructive: in the ambition to create a new language, and thus a new world, to crush the culture that led up to the First World War. The essence of its aesthetics was the image, which should be as arbitrary as possible. Writing would take place beyond the control of reason and independent of aesthetic and moral considerations. Man would of course be understood without science and measure, with the unconscious and the operations at the center. André Breton and Paul Eluard.
The latter 20th century continued on the path of symbolism and surrealism: in the formal sense, it does not matter that much if the poet is a Christian humanist or politically radical or deals with the possibilities and limits of writing. The lyrics are many, the readers few. René Char, Francis Ponge and Saint-John Perse are usually among the most prominent names.
Quantitatively, the novel was dominated by 19th century aesthetics. Psychological problems in the family environment are dealt with, specific Catholic perspectives dominate Mauriac’s classically formulated narrative art. Social frescoes were presented in multi-band works (Romain Rolland, Roger Martin du Gard). Popular literature celebrated triumphs, e.g. through an original equivalent of the hard-boiled American detective novel (with Jean-Patrick Manchette as one of the most important names). Some writers sought renewal within the novel’s conventional frameworks, e.g. Louis-Ferdinand Céline, whose speech-language prose became stylistically innovative. However, it was in books by Proust, Gide and Malraux and of the new novel’s representatives – Nathalie Sarraute, Claude Simon, Michel Butor and Alain Robbe-Grillet and others. – as the greatest revolution took place. Logical and chronological contexts dissolve, and both the author’s (or narrator’s) and the protagonist’s perception of the world changes. There is no clear reality, and we only encounter different experiences of a reality that cannot be given a certain meaning.
Typical – but obviously not unique – of French literature is its cosmopolitanism, its relations to other literatures, as well as the antiliterary, the questioning of literature; something that seems to apply to everything from children’s books and songs to feminist cultural criticism and literary theory.
After more than 100 years of concentration on the author’s intention or the meaning of the text, postwar literary criticism has driven a radical change in the status of the literary work: the reader becomes an increasingly important and active participant in the interpretation process. At the same time, the boundary between criticism and fiction sometimes becomes blurry. The latest trends go so far as to deny both the author’s and the work’s existence: all we have is a huge text, or lots of texts, that mean nothing or mean anything, since the language cannot capture either thought at all or world and since no work can be said to constitute a completed whole other than from extremely arbitrary points of departure (Jacques Derrida). However, a lot of French word art is still understandable in a reasonable sense, both as entertainment and interpretation of reality.
Drama and theater
THE MIDDLE AGES
In the obscure darkness of the Romanesque monasteries was born the French drama, whose language was initially Latin. The conditions existed in the liturgy of the liturgy at the great Christian feasts of Easter and Christmas. During the 900’s, so-called troops were introduced as a dramatic commentary on the fair. They soon came to include not only centrally religious but also more profane scenes. Half in Latin and half in French is the dialogue in the parable “Sponsus” from about 1100, and a drama entirely written in the vernacular was created with “Le jeu d’Adam” (‘Adamspelet’) from about 1150. When the Bible drama later got a In the late Middle Ages it was possible to theatrically reproduce the entire historical process from creation to the ultimate judgment. These epic cycles, called passion or mystery games, often took days to perform.
In these games, exalted religious lyric, theological interpretations and farcical everyday scenes were mixed with each other. In the late Middle Ages, the father also became an appreciated standalone genre. The drastic joke story “Maistre Pierre Pathelin Hystoire” (“The Father of Master Pierre Pathelin”) from about 1450 has proven to be playable today.
In the first place, the great passion or mystery games, because of their epic breadth, required a playground with the possibility of fast and clear movement between different environments. When the game was placed outside the west facade of the churches, a number of stage buildings, locus (Latin ‘place’) or mansion were placed(French ‘house’, ‘building’), on a row at the playground’s fund. The locus of heaven was placed at the far right and the dragon-like hell gap at the far left as seen from the scene, while the Temple of Jerusalem formed the centerpiece. The play within this symbolic order reflected the struggle between salvation and condemnation. Already in an early drama such as “Adam’s Game” you will find detailed stage instructions on the design of the action and the playground. Powerful effects were used to give illusion to the martyrs suffering or the condemned screams of anguish in the passion and mystery games. The French drama evolved from the stylized form of the liturgical drama, which embodies the victorious Christ, to the passionate realism of the passion play, which depicts the history of Christ’s suffering, a general shift in the history of medieval art and ideas.
With the humanists’ in-depth study of ancient texts in the early 16th century, the difference began to become clear between the late medieval French drama with its epic breadth and the preserved ancient tragedies and comedies with their fixed design and either tragic or comic mood. Among other things, these critical aspects led to the Paris Parliament in 1548 prohibiting mystery and miracle games in the capital.
At about the same time, the humanists began to treat in a Nylatin language suit, among other things. Biblical motifs based on the interpretation of Sofokles, Euripides and especially Seneca’s drama. This experiment with ancient drama forms was continued in French when Étienne Jodelle in 1552 published “Cléopâtre captive” (“The Captured Cleopatra”). The greater familiarity with Aristotle’s poetics contributed to a deeper aesthetic debate about the genres of tragedy and comedy. However, the original dramas of the humanists remained primarily writing exercises which, although erected, did not reach a wider audience.
The 17th century marked a golden century for French drama. The flowering took place mainly in Paris and coincided with the last half of Louis XIV ‘s reign, which was already marked in the exterior by a marked theatricality in the strict court ceremony. However, a richer Parisian theater life had already been established around 1630.
Prior to this time, the audience had been almost exclusively male, while its composition now became increasingly equal. This affected, among other things. the play’s drawing of the interpersonal conflicts and the actors’ style of play. In 1629 Pierre Corneille debuted with the comedy “Mélite” and in 1635 he made good luck with the tragedy “Médée”. With a sensitive mind for the audience’s expectations and priorities, in “Le Cid” (1636) he linked to the Spanish Renaissance comedy. Dramat’s difficult-to-master conflict of will between honor and passion prompted many rhetorical and pathetic lyrical feelings. The battles over “Le Cid” definitely set the French classical doctrine as the new aesthetic norm of the new central state.
A boundary between the first phase of the French classical drama and its heyday was set by the break in Parisian theater life that the Frond 1650-53 meant.
The heyday began when Molière returned to Paris with a highly professional actor group around 1660 – after thirteen years of touring. Paris could thus count on three significant ensembles: the one at the Hôtel de Burgundy, the one at the Marais Theater and Moliere’s troupe, which shared the stage at the Théâtre du Petit Bourbon with an Italian commedia dell’arte group. Molière awakened the favor of both the Parisians and the king by refraining from the old fathers’ worn-out types and stagnant conflicts in favor of a fresh, pointed contemporary satire. This type of comedy gave the opportunity to stage the complex character of the bigot hypocrite Tartuffe, the cynical seducer Don Juan and the misanthropic truth-seeker Alceste.
Even within the tragedy – which remained the “high” and therefore the most regarded genre – at the same time, a corresponding rebirth occurred. Pierre Corneille’s brother Thomas Corneille gladly broke up the too-firm framework of French doctrine in favor of more audience-drawing, Roman elements. Racine emerged as the most original talent in the tragedy. With psychological rigor and impeccable alexandrines, he drew the image of composite female characters such as Andromaque, Bérénice and Phèdre by creating a tension between a rationally constructed drama conflict and a profound analysis of the irrationality of passions. In the short period of 1667-77, Racine completed seven major tragedies and then almost completely withdrew from the theater.
After this hectic flowering period, theater life slowed somewhat during the latter part of Louis XIV ‘s long reign. Crucial was the successive merger of the three major actor groups into Comédie-Française in 1680.
Enlightenment and romance
Some renewal underwent the French classical drama during the last half of the 18th century when Voltaire began writing for the stage. From his debut in 1718 with an Oidipustragedy to his death in 1778, when he had just witnessed the performance of his last grief play “Irène”, he wrote twenty plays. Voltaire’s strength lay in his desire to make the scene a forum for moral-philosophical debate, not least on themes such as tolerance and freedom. At about the same time, comedy also experienced a development towards moralizing and tear-jerking dramatic conflicts. Marivaux did not lack the mind for this flow, but his comedies nevertheless broke from there through the mischievous and pleasing manner in which he designed his intrigues.
The opposition to the century-long tradition of French classicism with its strict rationality received its definitive breakthrough with the emotional bourgeois drama. The genre’s most significant example became Diderot’s plays from the 1750’s. In essence “Discours sur la poésie dramatique” (1758), Diderot developed his aesthetic program, which he advocated for a more time-honored environment as well as a greater naturalness in dialogue and action. He also wanted the stage to become a forum for moral discussion. The renewal of the serious drama also went in the direction of historical realism under the influence of Shakespeare’s drama. By 1784, Beaumarchai’s satirical play “Le Mariage de Figaro” (“Figaro’s wedding”) had been staged, and the audience applauded the dramatic illumination of the aristocracy’s privilege.
The revolutionaries abolished the monopoly position for the opera and Comédie-Française by first closing both scenes to open them again in 1791 and at the same time allowing free establishment. Nearly 40 new scenes were created, which offered a richly varied repertoire from tragedy to vaudeville. Around 1800, the idea of romance about the interaction of the artists and the mix of the genres broke through the boulevard theaters and led to the strongly pictorial genre melodrama. A bold mix of pathetic, suspense-laden and complex compositional elements elicited these plays to a wide audience, who were also enthusiastic about the related circus pantomimes in, among other things. Cirque Olympique. Guilbert de Pixérécourt became not only the leading melodram writer but also the director of the genre, who also designed both costume sketches and stage pictures.
The melodrama later took on a different direction when Victor Hugos and Alexandre Dumas das the story-romance dramas around 1830 began to be performed on stage. In his aesthetic treatise – the company for drama “Cromwell” from 1827 – Hugo advocates that in drama as in life, the sublime and the grotesque mix. As a conscious counterpoint to this spectacular genre, romance grew to read. In French, Alfred de Musset realized this direction both in a multi-faceted larger piece such as “On ne badine pas avec l’amour” (1834; “Don’t play with love”) and in his spiritually toured, short samples.
The rich theatrical supply in Paris led to a demand for a new repertoire during the last half of the 19th century. Young playwrights such as Eugène Scribe and his successor Victorien Sardou therefore conducted a more methodical analysis of what the money-laden bourgeois audience expected to experience in the theater. The answer was the introduction of one of theater history’s most durable genres – la pièce bien faite(‘the well-made spectacle’) – which was based on a thrillingly intriguing intriguing scheme spiced with a light contemporary satire. They also dared to highlight controversial contemporary phenomena, e.g. stock market speculation, political scandals, mesalliances and gaming passions – but without too much distortion of the viewer’s values. Sharper in his social contemporary criticism was Émile Augier and the moralist Alexandre Dumas dy in the illumination of bourgeois rebellion and double morality in their pièces à thèse (‘problem drama’).
Naturalism and symbolism
A deliberate flow like French naturalism in the late 19th century, of course, wished to reform this habitual realism of the problem drama. In accordance with Taines’s thesis on the decisive importance of the heritage, the environment and the historical situation, Zola demanded “an environment that will make its mark on the characters”. The only French playwright who could be said to live up to the lofty goals was Henry Becque. To the extent that the Parisian public sought to experience dramas “characterized by the elevated morality of truth” (Zola), it had to turn to Le Théâtre Libre, who worked during the period 1887-96. Its artistic leader André Antoine worked with a semi-professional ensemble to present current foreign writers such as Tolstoy, Turgenjev, Hauptmann, Ibsen and Strindberg. The naturalistic style of play often used a stage room where the audience looked directly into the intimate sphere, as if the fourth wall of a room had been removed. The aim was to reproduce the natural rhythm of the dialogue.
Antoine’s experimentation with the performing arts was immediately followed by the AF Lugné-Poës Théâtre de l’Œuvre, where both Maurice Maeterlink’s lyrical saga drama “Pelléas et Mélisande” (1893) and Alfred Jarry’s nihilistic play “Ubu Roi” (1896; “King Ubu”) its premiere. The previous set introduced a stylized tradition, which in French 20th century drama was completed and deepened by Paul Claudel and Jean Giraudoux. The latter became a milestone in the history of theater as the importance of the text in the set was subordinated to the other varying means of expression of the performing arts. This tendency was followed by the scenic improvisations of the Dadaists, Antonin Artaud’s theory of theater and the post-war absurdist drama.
The 1900’s and 2000’s
From the bold 19th-century experimental art experimentation, an uninterrupted, viable directing tradition goes through Jacques Copeau, who in 1913-19 designed a nuanced ensemble play at the Théâtre du Vieux Colombier, to his disciples Louis Jouvet and Charles Dullin. In exquisite interpretations, Jouvet submitted to the tyranny of the text, while Dullin emphasized the expressive power of the pantomime action. The directing tradition goes on to Dullin’s disciple Jean-Louis Barrault, who tried to realize Artaud’s theater theories in a total theater where, however, the pantomime’s choreographically conceived movement scheme dominated. The line of innovative directors continues with Jean Vilar, who wanted to bring the theater to a mass audience. The latest in the line is Ariane Mnouchkine, who, together with his ensemble, first worked out their ideology-critical plays in order to begin to interpret new classics with these experiences. A stranger in this brilliant crowd of directors remains Artaud.
The great portal figure of the 20th century was Paul Claudel. Significant of his multifaceted, deeply religious drama is the distinctive passion drama “Partage de midi” (1906; “When the day is turning”) and the masterpiece “Le Soulier de satin” (1929; “Sidenskon”), which received its first scenic designs so late as 1948 and 1943 respectively in Barrault’s strange interpretations.
Jean Giraudoux came in a similarly important way to be staged by Jouvet, a collaboration that also applied to the final form of the text. Giraudoux gladly chose an ancient mythological motif, which he playfully yet with a serious undertone transformed into contemporary French provincial environment. Jean Anouilh was initially in close contact with both Jouvet and Giraudoux, but both his pièces roses and his pièces noires from the 1930’s and 1940’s have a more prominent feature of disillusionment.
During the 1940’s, Sartre and Camus used the stage to discuss the main theses of existentialism and thus linked to an older tradition of Voltaire’s idea drama. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, a development took place within the French drama that was more in line with the retreatalisation of the performing arts. The absurdist drama, with its ever-changing illumination of life’s meaninglessness, was staged scenically with the help of an irrational, slightly far-fetched dialogue, admittedly written in French and in France but consistently by writers of foreign origin. Among these are the Irish Samuel Samuel Beckett with his ambiguous play on the vain hopes and the emptiness of existence “An attendant Godot” (1952; “Awaiting Godot”), the Romanian Eugène Ionesco with his disturbing, ingenious language game in “La Cantatrice chauve” (1950;
In line with the cultural aspirations of the Fifth Republic to re-emphasize the central importance of the French language, the theater’s position in society was strengthened during the 20th century. Every major or small town soon had some kind of subsidized theater. Offensive cultural ministers like André Malraux and Jack Lang defended the interests of the theater. In the 1950’s, guest performances by the Berliner Ensemble became very important for the introduction of Brecht’s drama in France, in turn an artistic impetus.
The centuries-old idea of artistic decentralization with a popular focus was continued in Jean Vilar’s Avignon festival, started as early as the 1940’s, and a later project such as Roger Planchon’s Théâtre National Populaire in Villeurbanne near Lyon. Director Antoine Vitez’s work in the Paris suburb Ivry in the 1970’s can also be counted as an artistic decentralization.
As a further development of this French theater idea, one may consider the perhaps best known and original of the last decades of groups, Ariane Mnouchkines Théâtre du Soleil, operating in an old gun factory in Vincennes. Mnouchkine combines the direction of Jean Vilar and Roger Planchon with a contemporary international orientation. The troupe’s productions have thus evolved from the popular revolution festivals of 1789 and 1793, created in the 1970’s, to scenic stories of today’s global refugee streams. In her aesthetic, the mediators of the medieval theater are associated with the stylization of Asian art and the clowns of the circus. Extremely distinctive were her sets of Shakespeare and Greek classics.
Another important director is Patrice Chéreau, also active as an actor. At his Théâtre des Amandiers in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, he introduced the remarkable playwright Bernard-Marie Koltès with his “Combat de nègres et de chiens” (1983; “The Negro and the Dogs Fight”) and “Retour au désert” (1988; “The Return to the Desert “). Koltès managed a literary tradition of stylized symbolism with roots at Claudel. A later, much-played playwright such as Yasmina Reza (born 1959), however, completes plays such as “Art” (1994) and “Le dieu du carnage” (2006; “The Massacre God”) the tradition of the inter-war ironic-social drama of Anouilh and Giraudox.
French theater and drama are fruitfully linked to their history. At the same time, under the influence of the new circus movement, scenic mixed forms have been artistically rewarding in France in recent years. Vilar’s festival in Avignon has evolved into an annual manifestation of this varied aesthetic.
Together with the United States, France has been at the center of the film’s development. Among the most important names are Nicéphore Niepce, who in 1826 took the first photograph, the physicist Étienne-Jules Marey, who in the 1880’s invented various apparatus for rapid series photography, and the animator Émile Reynaud (1844-1918), who in 1877–92 improved his praxinoscope for displaying films drawn directly on a perforated celluloid strip. Their innovations were directly crucial to the development that followed.
Not the first, but the most technically and artistically most groundbreaking film screening for a paying audience took place on December 28, 1895 in the Grand Café restaurant in Paris. The brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière then demonstrated their invention, the Cinematographer (le Cinématographe), a combination of film camera and projector. The program of ten films included “The workers leave the factory”, “The child eats breakfast” and the comedy “The gardener’s revenge”. Until the turn of the 1900’s, the Lumière brothers’ companies dominated the world scene through their system of traveling photographers who both recorded and screened films in virtually all countries.
In 1896, the magician Georges Méliès began to explore the new possibilities of film technology through a series of style-forming approaches, such as stop motion, double exposures and gradients. He also built the world’s first recording studio in 1897, where he successfully created both dramas such as “The Dreyfus Process” (1899) and science fiction films such as “Journey to the Moon” (1902) until his bankruptcy in 1913. The world’s first film star was also French, the comedian Max Linder, and in just over 200 short films from 1905 to the suicide of 1925, he stumbled into various fatherly adventures such as the woman-screaming snob Max.
With growing demand, two film companies that worked according to industrial principles were founded, from recording to distribution and screening: Gaumont (1895) and Pathé (1896). Among Gaumont’s star names were the serial director Louis Feuillade (“Fantômas”, 1913) and Alice Guy (1873-1968), the world’s first female film director. Pathé’s foremost director was named Ferdinand Zecca (1864-1947), but above all, the company became known for its news films, Pathé News (1910-70), which appeared in all the world’s cinemas. Both companies still exist today. An important bracket was the small Film d’Art, which in 1908-12 was noted for its cinematographed plays with internationally known stars from the French theater world.
During the First World War, France’s film industry weakened economically and the country lost its world domination. At the same time, the experimental film flourished at alternative cinemas and film studios, i.a. the dadaist Marcel Duchamp (“Anémic cinéma”, 1926) and the surrealists Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí (“The Andalusian dog”, 1929). In the commercial film industry, the so-called French Impressionists developed a story that in both technical and artistic experimentation matched the German film industry in the use of moving film camera, associative mounting, extreme camera angles and stylized decor. The figurehead was Abel Gance, director of lavish epics such as “Napoléon” (1927), which preceded Cinerama technology with three synchronized film projectors. Other leading names were Marcel L’Herbier (“Money”, 1928), Jean Epstein (“Lion’s Lion”, 1924) and Germaine Dulac (1882-1942; “Gosette”, 1923).
After the transition to audio film 1928-30, the industry strengthened. The sound assembly became a new grip in René Clair’s “The Million” (1931) and Jean Vigo’s “C in behavior” (1933). During the 1930’s, an internationally successful film tradition emerged under the name poetic realism with internationally renowned directors such as Jean Renoir, Julien Duvivier and Marcel Carné. Renoir, with the world success “The Great Illusion” (1937), became the leading director’s name. But it was Duvivier’s “Pépé fra Marseille” (1936) that set the tone for the darker and more fate-filled moods of emerging fascism and the threat of war towards the end of the decade in i.a. Carnés “The Day Dawn” (1939). Among the many foreign film workers in the interwar period was the Danish Carl Th. Dreyer (“A Woman’s Martyrdom”, 1928) and the Germans GW Pabst (“Don Quijote”, 1933) and Max Ophüls (“Your Forever”, 1934).
The German occupation during the Second World War drove some directors like Jean Renoir on the run, but in general the production of melodramas and comedies continued as usual. Then also the famous film school IDHEC (1943) was established. Carné made perhaps the most well-known allegory of resistance to Nazi Germany in the story drama “The guests of the night” (1942). In 1943, in the midst of the occupation, two directors debuted each with their controversial film: Robert Bresson (“Angels of Sin”) and Henri-Georges Clouzot (“The Corps”). The latter sparked debate about fellow runner because of the harsh image of French countryside, but Jean-Paul Sartre reached out to Clouzot’s defense.
The post-war period became financially difficult, and in 1946 the government set up the Center National de la Cinématographie (CNC), which among other things. would financially support both feature and documentary films. Jean Renoir worked only sporadically in France, but Max Ophüls returned to new successes (“The House of Love”, 1950) and the poet Jean Cocteau broke through with “Beauty and the Beast” (1946). Two thriller directors with international success were Clouzot (“The Wages of Fruit”, 1953) and Jean-Pièrre Melville (“Samurai Killer”, 1967); in comedy, Jacques Tati took a close position with his Oscar-winning “My Uncle” (1958). Within the documentary, Jean Rouch started the politically provocative cinema verité school with the film “A summer chronicle” (1960).
For the new generation of filmmakers, Cinématheque Français (1936), founded by Georges Franju and Henri Langlois, founded a film school. After the debut in 1949, Franju himself came up with the scandalous documentary “The Blood of the Animals” to be counted as the group Rive gauche (‘The Left Beach’). Tongivande was here Alain Resnais who, after the mentioned concentration camp documentary “Night and Fog” (1955), got his international breakthrough in 1959 with the feature film “Hiroshima, my beloved” after the script by Marguerite Duras. The group also included Alain Robbe-Grillet (“Trans-Europ-Express”, 1966), Agnès Varda (“Cléo from 5 to 7”, 1961) and Chris Marker. In common was their inspiration from the experimentation of modernist literature with elements of memories, dreams, fantasies, narrative voices and time jumps.
Medially, however, they were overshadowed by a contemporary group of younger men around the film magazine Cahiers du cinéma (founded in 1951) who began making films with role models in both domestic experimental films and Hollywood. They were called la nouvelle vague, the new wave, and the key film became Jean-Luc Godard’s “To the Last Breath” (1960), after the script by François Truffaut, who debuted the year before with “The 400 Battles” (1959). The new wave films were self-aware, playful and packed with references to film history as well as literature, art and popular culture. E.g. both Truffaut’s “The Bride Wore Black” (1968) and Claude Chabrol’s “The Butcher” (1970) were inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, and MGM’s Technicolor musicals were exemplaryJacques Demy’s “Umbrellas in Cherbourg” (1964), one of the few films in the new wave that also became a significant financial success. The group also included Eric Rohmer (“My Night with Maud”, 1969) and Jacques Rivette (“L’Amour fou”, 1969).
Alongside the groups were Louis Malle (“Lacombe Lucien”, 1973), Bertrand Tavernier (“A Sunday in the countryside”, 1984) and Claude Lelouch, who, with style from the new wave, won both the Golden Palm and an Oscar for his commercial success “A man and a woman” (1966). Economically, the French film industry was dominated by conventional action and comedy around stars such as Eddie Constantine (in a long suite of films about gangster Lemmy Caution), Jean-Paul Belmondo (“Borsalino”, 1970) and Louis de Funès (“The Great Calabash”, 1966).
Cinema you look and later
The economic crisis of the 1970’s hampered film production without commercial viability and produced a new French film generation with a postmodern film language inspired by advertising, music videos and fashion photography: le cinéma du look. Groundbreaking was Jean-Jacques Beineix’s romantic gangster drama “Diva” (1981), followed by, among other things. Leo’s Carax “The Lovers at Pont-Neuf” (1992). Luc Besson was most successful with films such as “Nikita” (1990) and “The Fifth Element” (1997). His company, Les Films du Dauphin, is now one of France’s most economically important producers, also of English-language action films for the export market, such as “The Transporter” (2002, two sequels 2005–08).
Other significant director names in recent decades are Claude Berri (“Jean de Florette”, 1986; two parts), Bertrand Blier (born 1939) (“Too beautiful for you”, 1989), Patrice Leconte (“The hairstylist’s husband”, 1990), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amélie from Montmartre”, 2001), Mathieu Kassovitz (born 1967, “While We Fall”, 1995), Xavier Beauvois (born 1967, “Gods and People”, 2010) and Michel Hazanavicius (born 1967), who with five silent film “The Artist” (2011) won five Oscars, including for best film and direction.
Foreign-born directors who have been active in the country include the Poles Roman Polanski (“Bitter Moon”, 1992) and Krzysztof Kieślowski (“The Blue Film”, 1993) and the Argentine Gaspar Noé (born 1963, “Irréversible”, 2002). At the same time, a number of French directors have been exporting since the 1970’s, primarily to the United States: Louis Malle (“Atlantic City”, 1981), Christophe Gans (born 1960, “Silent Hill”, 2006), Louis Leterrier (born 1973, “The Incredible Hulk”, 2008) and Alexandre Aja (born 1978, “Piranha”, 2010).
France is Europe’s largest film producer with about 180 films per year.
Many of the more significant early inventions in photography were made by Frenchmen. Nicéphore Niepce produced the world’s first photograph in 1826, and in 1839 presented LJM Daguerre the dagrotypin. Later that year, the French state acquired the invention and donated it to humanity. The business card camera, which made the portrait image affordable for a wider clientele, was invented in 1854 by AAE Disdéri. The brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière published in 1904 the first useful color photo method, the autochrome image.
Despite these pioneering works, France has never dominated the photo market; the photo industries in Germany, the USA and Japan have been all the more successful. A number of French photographers, on the other hand, have reached world reputation. Among the more well-known portraitists are Félix Nadar and Étienne Carjat, both active in the 1860’s. Maxime Du Camps and the Bisson brothers made memorable photos from trips in the mid-1800’s. Among the pictorialists of the turn of the century, Robert Demachy should be mentioned. Eugène Aget’s Parisian pictures have become classic, and he can be seen as a precursor to what many would call a typical French photogeny genre: the poetic flannel image that reflects everyday street life. Édouard Boubat, Robert Doisneau, Willy Ronis, Izis, Brassaï and André Kertész have made many memorable photos in this genre, as well as perhaps the most famous French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson. The fashion city of Paris attracts hundreds of foreign photographers every year; Among the French fashion photographers are Jeanloup Sieff and Guy Bourdin.
For France’s oldest art, see cave art, Celtic art, Merovingian art and Carolingian art.
THE MIDDLE AGES
Already in the early 1100’s, France became one of the most significant countries in the field of church art, and when the Gothic style at the turn of the century began to characterize even the visual arts, France became Europe’s leading country in this area as well. That position was reinforced in the 13th century, and when Italy took over the leadership in the visual arts in the 1300’s, French art continued to serve as an example in the other countries of Western Europe. Also, the realistic flow of Western Europe’s 15th century art was based in France, more specifically in Burgundy, which at that time also included Flanders.
Several of France’s Romanesque churches are richly decorated with contemporary building sculpture in relief. This was placed partly on the west facades, usually in the portals, and partly on figureheads inside the churches. The regional differences were large. The main areas were Languedoc and Burgundy. The southern French school of sculpture appears for the first time at the end of the 11th century in the abbey church of Saint-Sernin in Toulouse. In the 1110’s, in the west portal of the church of Saint-Pierre in Moissac, it created one of the first large picture program of Romanesque sculpture. The motive in the portal’s tympanum is Christ’s return as a world judge; the tone is apocalyptic, the figure style lively but restrained and the relief so deep that the smaller figures are almost portrayed in free sculpture.
The Burgundian school of sculpture also appears even before the end of the 11th century, with eight figure chapters in the chorus round to the third monastery church in Cluny. In the western portals of the pilgrimage churches Saint-Lazare in Autun and Sainte-Madeleine in Vézelay, it soon after created two of the greatest masterpieces of Romanesque sculpture. In Autun, the Yttersta judgment is presented with great detail, and in Vézelay – where the west portal is in a lobby – the motive is, among other things. The shedding of the Holy Ghost. The style is linear and dramatic, the characters long and moving, almost dancing, and the relief as in Moissac on the way to becoming a free sculpture.
High-profile Romanesque figure chapters in the churches’ interior or significant sculpture programs on their western facades can also be found in many other parts of France. The development culminated even before the middle of the 12th century, but significant sculptural embellishments were also performed thereafter. The most significant reliefs on the classically inspired western facades include Saint-Trophime in Arles and Saint-Gilles in Saint-Gilles-du-Gard.
Still romance in its spirit and style but at the same time a precursor to something new was the sculpture adornment of the three western portals of the Saint-Denis Abbey church in the 18th century. It represents a synthesis of the sculpture schools in Burgundy and Languedoc and paved the way for the next portal sculpture in Île-de-France. As early as the 1140’s, it gained a close resemblance to the facade of the still Romanesque western party in front of the Cathedral in Chartres. During the following decades, similar western portals were also performed on some of the Unghot cathedrals, including Notre-Dame in Paris. By the beginning of the 13th century, the formerly so solemn and almost archaic figures had gained human life and began to liberate themselves from the columns. This development then continued partly in the north and south portals of Chartres and partly in Reims and Amiens.
France’s medieval sculpture also includes saints’ sculptures in wood, tombs, goldsmiths and ivory reliefs. Most famous of all French saint images and Europe’s oldest preserved cult image of this kind is the gold-plated image of local saint Sainte Foy in Conques, executed as early as the 900’s. The art of ivory, which was associated with the monasteries during Carolingian times, became, during the Gothic period, in many ways a court art with Paris as the principal place of production.
The fresco painting also took a prominent place in the Romanesque churches. However, it has not been preserved more than in a few places. At Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe in Poitou, the entire interior was painted in the late 1000’s in a style related to Carolingian art. The same connection can be found in the almost sketchy paintings in the arches of the crypt in Tavant, as well as in Poitou. A completely different style represents the 12th century paintings in Berzé-la-Ville near Cluny; they relate to Italian painting traditions but also to contemporary Byzantine art.
During Gothic, the mural lost much of its former importance in the churches but lived on in the profane architecture. The most significant Gothic painting adornment can be found in the papal palace in Avignon. However, it is mainly made by Italian artists called in.
In the Gothic cathedrals, the mural painting was replaced early by stained glass windows. Beginning in Saint-Denis and continuing in Chartres, stained glass windows quickly became almost as important to the experience of the Gothic church space as Gothic architecture itself. The French stained glass window was found early – and still has – its main craft center in Chartres. Other significant stained glass windows are found in the cathedrals of Beauvais, Laon, Le Mans and Bourges. Its culmination reached the art scene in the mid-13th century with Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.
The bookmaking became an important center in Limoges during the 1100’s. During the same century, Limoges also became Europe’s leading enamel manufacturing site. Both artists were connected to a monastery. In the 13th century the bookmaking was secularized and got its center in Paris. A new type of manuscript that would be of great importance to the book development’s continued development was the private devotional book, livre d’heures.
In the profane architecture, textile art became an important complement to the mural painting early on. Famous examples are the more than 70 meters long Bayeux wallpaper from the 1070’s and the huge Apocalypse wallpaper in Angers, made in Paris during the latter half of the 13th century. It is made of tapestry technology, which in the 15th century became one of France’s most important art forms.
Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo
There were three clear imagery traditions in France around 1400: the Provencal with roots in Italian trecento, the Gothic, developed mainly in Paris, and the Dutch-Burgundian, which gradually gained greater influence in central France. The beautiful realism that Claus Sluter developed in Dijon was richly followed in French tombs, with a culmination in the monuments in Brou (in Bourg-en-Bresse) and Saint-Denis. But the same tendency also appeared in the bookmaking industry, among other things. in tidbooks for the Duke of Berry, probably done in Paris by the Flemish brothers Limbourg. With their landscape realism, a real room illusion was introduced together with a narrative detail realism of Flemish type, which was richly followed by generations of painters, among others. Jean Fouquet.
By this time, the Italian Hungarian Renaissance had already had a strong influence in French art. A strongly densified narrative realism developed the so-called René master in the book illumination suite “The story of the heart obsessed with love” at the Anjouhovet. An increasingly clear renaissance realism was represented in the same circle by Nicolas Froment in the 1470’s, and the same tendency was found not least in Central France, among others. works by the Moulins master around 1480. A more gothic expressiveness lived long in i.a. Avignon. Even in the Northern French court art, up to 1500 a conservative tendency applies with Gothic style features, not least in the portrait art.
Shortly after 1500, the High Renaissance has completely broken through in France. Although Flemish artists continued to fill important tasks in French art – Frans I’s head painter Jean Clouet was, for example. of Flemish burden – it was now mainly Italian artists who were called for more extensive art assignments. A series of castles at the Loire got sculpture by Italian artists, and in 1516 Leonardo da Vinci was summoned by Frans I to Amboise. The castle in Fontainebleau was called several of the leading Italian masters of mannism and there developed a distinctly own style (compare Fontainebleau school), which was also applied by participating French artists. In the middle of the 16th century, Jean Goujon shaped his graceful and large-scale decorative style into works such as the facade sculptures of the Paris Louvre, which were followed in a number of Parisian palaces and churches. Among the many individualists who appeared during the time of Frans I are also noted sculptor Ligier Richier and graphic artist Jean Duvet. A significant sculptor was also Germain Pilon.
For a few years at the beginning of the 17th century, the court in Nancy played an important role in art life; here developed among other things a distinctive graphic art with roots in the Fontainebleau school, represented by Jacques Bellange and Jacques Callot. In Lorraine, too, his entire life painter Georges de La Tour worked with genre paintings and religious motifs in a personal, meditative attitude with a distinctive darkness of light.
With the painter Simon Vouet began the intimate connection between French art and Rome, which included. turned out that prospective artists for several centuries were sent to Rome for longer stays; from 1666 there was a French academy. One of those who made a strong impression in Rome was Charles Le Brun, who, immediately after his return in 1646, was employed by Cardinal Mazarin both for castle decorations and for organizing and leading the state art business; he became leader of the 1648 French Academy of Fine Arts founded. He developed his representative high baroque among others. in a series of allegories in Versailles over the reign of Louis XIV. The painterly and sculptural splendor embellishments he and his circle performed helped to give French art through the princely houses a leading position in European art life for centuries to come.
The classical tradition was represented with a more humanistic approach by Nicolas Poussin, who came to Rome in 1624 and stayed there until his death, with the exception of two years in Paris. Poussin’s painting got a tight, regular and rich composition and an often subtle motif braid; he also developed a rich allegorical art. Alongside him, Claude Lorrain became a leading representative of an antiquarian classicism in French art. Lorrain mainly focused on “heroic” landscapes, ie. classic landscapes with literary, narrative character scenes. His pictures are often close to the theater’s stage pictures; his efforts were also valid there, recalling the growing importance of stage decoration as a task for French Baroque artists.
The painting for a bourgeois audience that flourished early on in connection with the oblique system gladly retained the connection to Dutch realistic tradition. It was represented, among other things. of the three brothers Le Nain, who gladly chose genre motifs from the bourgeois or rural everyday life. Time librarians, but focusing on the spectacular in Paris life, was also the graphic artist Abraham Bosse. Leading portrait engraver was Claude Mellan, who developed the copper engraving technique to the highest degree of systematic regularity. Outside the Roman-classicist circle, Philippe de Champaigne developed his austere, colorfully refined portrait painting. He had a Flemish background. New powers such as Pierre Mignard and François Girardon were taken from around 1660 for the court and the castle in Versailles, the former mainly for portrait paintings, the latter for large sculptural ensembles. Pierre Puget and Antoine Coysevox developed not least for these environments a statuary art with heroic decorative sculpture of high expressiveness and classical brilliance.
In the 1680’s, some leading portrait artists such as Nicolas de Largillière and Hyacinthe Rigaud appeared in the future. The former represented a sensually rich colorism and a certain intimacy, while Rigaud, who was close to the Academy of Art, was more restrained in color but focused on giving dramatic portraits to his portrait-oriented portraits with rich light contrasts. However, both related to the rich, exquisitely painterly tradition of Tizian and Rubens more than to the classicism of Raphael and the tradition after him, in which Poussin was included. The latter was highly regarded at the Academy of Fine Arts, and towards the turn of the 1700’s, the controversy between “Poussinists” and “Rubenists” diminished. The latter’s case was taken care of by Roger de Piles in several treaties where rules for classical design, drawing, color attitude and composition are examined and compared to free artistic submission and painting life. The dialogue would continue throughout the 18th century, and the same two parties could be discerned in the early 1800’s. The Academy of Fine Arts organized early exhibitions; these annual “lounges” in the Louvre became gathering points for the country’s and Europe’s art enthusiasts, and by the mid-18th century they had begun to be regularly commented on in written criticism, among other things. by Diderot. and by the middle of the 18th century they had begun to be regularly commented upon in written criticism, i.a. by Diderot. and by the middle of the 18th century they had begun to be regularly commented upon in written criticism, i.a. by Diderot.
Rococo, the first original style developed in France since the Gothic period, emerged during the 1710’s-20’s. It had already found, before 1720, its dense and vegetative, asymmetrical character in JA Meissonnier’s pattern engravings, which quickly spread as models for new room decor. In this development, Antoine Watteau also played a role with his early decorative works. But his main effort was to develop a painterly rococo with his weightless sensual images of crazy parties and games as well as of the comedy’s personalities etc. With Watteau, the painterly line definitely took the lead in French visual art. From him, among other things, François Boucher, however, in his mature style was closer to Tiepolo, whom he studied in Italy. The connection to antiquity again became a dominant feature at Boucher, his feasts were the antics of Olympic gods. But a more intimate and everyday atmosphere dominates throughout the 18th century; among the bourgeois painters of the century is the foremost J.-B. Chardin, whose intimate everyday scenes and still life testify to his education in the Netherlands. One technique that first became common with rococo was the pastel, whose light fabric was used by the portrait painter MQ de La Tour in a way that formed tradition. A successor to Watteau and Boucher was Honoré Fragonard, who from the 1760’s developed a personal colorist art.
Roman everyday motifs and ruins were depicted with painterly intimacy by Hubert Robert. This is characteristic of the French neoclassical movement, where antiquarianism never came to defeat the painterly rococo. This was also the case in the sculpture, where Edmè Bouchardon represented the transition from the monumental Baroque sculpture to a more relaxed vivid portrayal of art. Around the middle of the century, J.-B. Pigalle a more baroque, dramatic monumental art, while E.-M. The Falcon connected more closely to the rococo ideal, especially in its figurines for the porcelain factory in Sèvres. But Falconet also depicted monumental sculpture, such as the equestrian statue of Peter the Great in St. Petersburg. In addition to large-scale sculpture, Clodion also made an effort through small-scale sculptures, figurines, multiplied by the porcelain industry. Most notable among the sculptors of the late 18th century is JA Houdon; he created with vivid characteristics including portrait statues and bust of famous contemporaries.
Nyantik, realism and romance
A completely new relationship with classical antiquity was developed during the last decades of the 18th century, mainly in architecture, but also in the visual arts, where JL David initiated the rigorous new antiquity with paintings from ancient Rome’s history. David became the political leader in the art world with the French Revolution. In addition to historical and representative compositions, he also developed an intimate, everyday realism that gained great importance in the early 19th century art. Among his students were JAD Ingres and AJ Gros. The former became the leading representative of a rigorous classicism in which strong romantic traits blend. Gros embarked on a highly romantic dynamic color art that, with Théodore Géricault, reached a first peak in dramatic, strongly emotion-engaging compositions. After the latter’s early departure, Eugène Delacroix became the head of the painting romance. In his art and writings, the interaction between the instruments and the variation in independence towards the depictive and narrative aspects of the image were purified.
In the new bourgeois republic, the press played a growing role, and the lithographic illustration and the joke developed rapidly. Among the satirical characters, Honoré Daumier is the foremost. The classic animal fable provided material for JJ Grandville’s books, with stunning imagery that opens a new genre in art and book production. Landscape art was growing in importance. Camille Corot began his career as a classic realistic landscape painter near David, and in the end represented an extremely free brush art. He came to collaborate with the younger artists who gathered in Barbizon from the 1830’s, and among them gradually developed a painting for the subject in the outdoors (see Barbizon School). Behind the realistic trend lay among other things. impression from Gustave Courbet, who reacted to the classical tradition’s artificial image world through everyday motifs and a concrete, sensual realism in the painting. While classicism and the Roman spirit of David in the 1830’s gained new relevance in François Rude’s monumental sculpture, the painterly romance received a plastic equivalent in AL Barye’s animal sculptures. At the younger JB Carpaux, the rococo tradition lived up to festively rich sculpture embellishments for Napoleon III ‘s Paris. The monumental fresco painting got for the first time a significant representative in France with Pierre Puvis de Chavannes.
Outdoor painting and impressionism
With devilish idealism, J.-F. Millet the laborious everyday life of the simple rural population. His work differs in form from the immediate depiction of reality, which is becoming more and more applicable after 1860, among others. in the open air painting, with landscape painters such as Eugène Boudin and JB Jongkind. The latter played a role for the young Claude Monet, who impressed them before he began a regular painting education in Paris. He came together with Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet to develop the impressionism, which was strongly focused on authentic everyday life, daylight, atmosphere and nature’s own color play, and which developed a characteristic, free brush writing.. Impressionism emerged at the same time as a modern exhibition life broke out in Paris. Each new stream now gained widespread public and international attention. At the beginning of the 1880’s, neo-Impressionism emerged with George Seurat and Paul Signac, partly as a development of colorism of impressionism, but with systematization of color – divisionism – and a strong tendency to abstraction in the actual design language. The decorative intensification of the color was taken up by several following directions. In his synthesis, Paul Gauguin joined rustic decorative traditions and later the art of the Southern tribes, in the search for a “primitive” expressiveness. He initially collaborated with van Gogh. Both had features of symbolism, a tendency that was also represented by Gustave Moreau’s Orientalist fantasy painting and Odilon Redon’s suggestive lithographs with themes of life’s development. From the Renaissance connection and allegorical sculptural tradition, Auguste Rodin developed in the 1890’s a subjective symbolism in his sensual sculpture. With a Catholic connection, symbolism is also a feature of the neighbors, which linked to the decorative and fabulous of Gauguin. From that circle came, among other things. painters Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard and sculptor Aristide Maillol. Primitivism became a flow of time which, among other things, led to the self-taught “naive” painter Henri Rousseau’s attention. Paul Cézanne, who was close to Impressionism, represented from the 1880’s a strictly constructed art that sought to reconcile the abstract principles of classical tradition with the free painting sculpture; With this he gained a profound influence on the development of art. In the 1890’s, the poster came to prominence in cultural life;
Early 1900’s, modernism
It was mainly in France that modernism of the 20th century was first developed. The primitivism of Gauguin and the color systematic of Seurat recur with the Fauvists, who emerged in 1905 with a subjectively colorful and decorative painting. Among them were André Derain, Raoul Dufy, Georges Rouault, Maurice de Vlaminck and Albert Marquet, as well as Henri Matisse, whose art came to have a widespread influence over younger painting the world over. Georges Braque belonged to them, but came a few years later, together with Picasso, to develop cubism with important starting points at Cézanne. Cubism also had primitivist preconditions. inspiration from African art. A wider circle of cubists was developed with, among other things, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Raymond Duchamp-Villon and Marcel Duchamp. The latter came to play a central role in the art development in connection with the Dada movement. Cubism was developed, among other things. collage as an art form.
During the 1910’s, a large number of self-taught primitive painters, “naivists”, were noted in Henri Rousseau’s successor, among others. Séraphine and André Bauchant. The sculptor Antoine Bourdelle emphasized the primitive expressiveness of stone and bronze. A strong neoclassical flow was based on French art circa 1917–25, with among other things. Derain and Picasso.
Around 1900, Paris attracted artists from all over the world. Many lived most of their working lives there, such as Soutine, Modigliani, Gris, Miró, Chagall and Picasso. After World War I, Paris’s dominance in art life was total. Surrealism was of French origin and appeared from 1924 as a movement mainly from Paris, but among its leading artists only Yves Tanguy and André Masson were French. Close to them, but completely secluded, stood the sculptor Germaine Richier. A constructivist movement manifested itself in Paris after 1920. by Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant. It was linked to trends in Dutch, German and Russian art. Jean Hélion and Auguste Herbin. Under the designation “École de Paris”, widely different modern tendencies were united in a strong emphasis on painting culture and tradition. After the end of the war in 1945, the constructivist movement gathered a large part of the international young art around its annual exhibition Salon des réalités nouvelles. Victor Vasarely developed his art towards an extremely geometric regularity and calculated optical effect. A new primitivism broke through when Jean Fautrier’s and Jean Dubuffet’s paintings were displayed after the Second World War. Their art was only partly imaginative, suggestive, sometimes seemingly temporary: the viewer decided the meaning himself. Dubuffet developed a program for “the open arts” and gathered as inspiration “raw art” of children, mentally ill and strangers. The expressiveness of the materials themselves and the suggestion in the coincidence were emphasized, among other things. with assembly layers and scrap sculpture, a tendency that with César and Arman led to a more controlled design. A related tendency was tachism, which represented by Henri Michaux, Georges Mathieu and Pierre Soulages. The emphasis of the experience led Yves Klein to manifestations where the material artwork was either a direct product of the actual manifestation to the public or could be annihilated in it – his actions became one of the starting points for the happenings and Fluxus of the 1960’s.
But by that time, American art and the art world had begun to seriously compete with the French for the first step in development. Pop art became the first foreign movement to engage younger French artists, for example. Niki de Saint Phalle. Already in the 1970’s-1980’s the internationalization of art had reached such a level that even the polarization America-France belonged to history. Institutions such as Center Pompidou in Paris have gained importance by offering new viewing opportunities including for bulky and unusual installations. Paris has remained a main focus for the world’s art events and for artistic education. International postmodern art has its roots in French efforts around 1950.
The French cartoon market has long been characterized by simpler jokes and adventures adapted for a children’s audience. A strong Belgian dominance was exercised through the French-language series in the newspapers Spirou and Tintin.
During the 1960’s, active series criticism began to take shape, with support from several of the new wave film directors. Parallel to pop art’s explorations of popular culture, “pop series” appeared as Barbarella, aimed directly at an adult readership and characterized by the sexual liberalization and design fashion of the time. At the same time, René Goscinny, through his sophisticated series Asterix and the magazine Pilote, drove the creative development. This led to a frequent experimentation with the media during the 1970’s. by Jean Giraud (signature Mœbius) and Philippe Druillet. At the same time, in the form of a comic book series, a depositor in serial form emerged. There came names like Claire Bretikker,Gérard Lauzier and Jean-Marc Reiser to become bitchy representatives, while the unrestrained burlesque was cultivated by Marcel Gotlib, Édika and other comic book humorists in the magazine Fluide Glacial.
From the 1980’s, most of the earlier comic books were closed down. Even before that, the focus had gradually shifted towards a production directly in albums (book form). Here names such as Enki Bilal, François Bourgeon, Pierre Christin and Jacques Tardi were among the epic names for the epic series. In spite of this, there was a clear stagnation, especially among the major series publishers. However, among the 1990’s innovators of epic album series were noted Claire Wendling (born 1967), Michel Plessix (born 1959) and Nicolas de Crécy (born 1966; also animator).
Today’s French serial landscape is still characterized by a large domestic album production, which serves as a purely literary niche with subgenres. However, the lack of new “long series” of the old tradition has meant significantly less exports to and impact on other European serial markets. At the same time, the extensive import of Japanese series has contributed to both inspiration and variety. Akira Toriyama’s “Dragon Ball” debuted in French translation in 1993, and its success paved the way for other manga in different genres. French comic book publishing now consists of one third of translated manga, and even in domestic production many thicker volumes in smaller book formats are visible.
The many new small publishers of the 1990’s (including L’Association and Cornélius) have also contributed to the trend towards more and more autobiographical works. Here are names such as Marjane Satrapi (“Persepolis”, 2000–03) and Joann Sfar (born 1971; a.k.a. “Donjon”, 1998–, “Rabbinic cat”, 2002–), where the latter’s immense production in various genres gave him a central role in the new French generation as well as the experimental set by Lewis Trondheim (born 1964).
During the Renaissance, French craftsmanship was heavily dependent on Italy, from where artists and craftsmen were called. It was only with the Baroque that it gained independence to develop into a lavish representation art during Louis XIV, where the glorification of the king and the royal power lifted all cost boundaries. The royal palaces, primarily Versailles, were provided under the direction of the architect and painter Charles Le Brun with an interior of incomparable splendor, manifested in, among other things. the king’s official reception suite “le Grand Appartement” with its famous, 73 m long mirror hall and magnificent silver furniture. However, the silver furniture, like the other unimaginably rich silver stock, was melted down in 1690 to strengthen the royal war chest, a fate that also surpassed the noble property.
Among the leading artists of the time, apart from Le Brun, was the ebony AC Boulle, known for furniture with inlays in brass and turtle, and Jean Berain, royal decorator and creator of the Berain ornamentation. An extensive production of woven wallpaper and furniture fabrics took place in the state workshops in Paris as well as in Aubusson and Beauvais.
With the Baroque, France became dominant in Europe, a position that the country retained for half a century and which came to new strong expression during the empire. As before Louis XIV, Napoleon was, to the extent of the prestige of the craft, personally engaged in the interior of the royal palaces, which have remained virtually empty since the Revolution, when most of the household was destroyed. Architects were Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine, whose textile-rich room decoration and luxurious mahogany furniture and gilded bronze quickly also broke through abroad. How favorable the artisanal business was in the early 19th century is evident from the fact that there were more than 10,000 furniture carpenters in Paris alone.
The revolution had also hit the French silversmith, who in 1789 had a new devastating estimate announced by the National Assembly’s order that all silver over a certain weight be melted down – over 54 tons of silver worked was lost. This means that the knowledge of French silversmith from earlier periods is largely based on export goods and on the drawings and copper engravings acquired in France from other countries as models for their own manufactures. Comprehensive collections of such material can be found in e.g. Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, which also holds drawings for Ludvig XIV ‘s silver furniture.
In the fields of ceramics and glass art, France has been stylistically both captivating and rewarding. Among the ceramics factories, during the second half of the 18th century, the state of Sèvres took a special position both artistically and technically, while glass art won its greatest success at the end of the 19th century through Émile Gallé and the Daum family. Among the most internationally renowned designers of the 20th century are Le Corbusier, who in collaboration with Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret designed some of the most famous furniture of the century, and later Philippe Starck (furniture, glass etc.), René Herbst (furniture, interior design) and Jean Lurçat (woven wallpaper).
For the oldest architecture in France, see Carolingian architecture.
The romance phase
In areas such as Aquitaine, Alsace, Auvergne, Burgundy, Île-de-France, Normandy and Provence, different traditions within the church architecture were developed during the Romanesque period. At the same time, the Second and Third Monastery Church in Cluny exerted a similar influence on the architecture of different parts of the country, especially in Burgundy. Many of the churches were architecturally linked by the pilgrimage routes that led through France to the Pyrenees and from there to Santiago de Compostela. Significant French contributions to Europe’s Romanesque architecture became the roundabout with a chapel wreath, the two-towered west façade with three portals, the tower over the crisscross, the hall church system and the ascetic Cistercian architecture. The roundabout with a chapel wreath was already in Saint-Martin in Tours around the year 1000. The two-towered west facade with a portal to the center ship and one to each side ship arose in Normandy, and the hall church became a peculiarity for Aquitaine. In southern France, the church of the church also became a common type of church building.
In France, Romanesque architecture had its strongest development in Burgundy. The architecture there is characterized mainly by a rich design, both internally and externally, and a diligent use of an artistically high-rise building sculpture. The most significant buildings are the monastery church of Paray-le-Monial and the pilgrimage churches of Sainte-Madeleine in Vézelay and Saint-Lazare in Autun. In the design of the midship walls, the latter links to a still preserved Roman city gate in Autun. Even more significant for the church building of the 12th century was given the Roman triumphal arch architecture in Provence, on which the western facades of Saint-Trophime in Arles and the abbey church in Saint-Gilles-du-Gard are prominent examples.
Impulses from Islamic architecture also occurred. From there originated, inter alia, the thong, the horseshoe arch and the pointed arch. The latter became especially common in Burgundy as well as the principle of using different colored stones in both walls and archivolts. In response to the riches of the especially in the Burgundian monastery churches, the Cistercians in Burgundy in the beginning of the 1100’s created a completely new and pronounced ascetic style of architecture.
The profane Romanesque architecture in France encompasses a large number of castles, especially in Normandy. During the 11th century, there was created a type of tower castle, Donjon, which also gained wide spread in the UK.
The Gothic stage
Gothic architecture first appeared in France in the Île-de-France, and the designation is that the style got its breakthrough in the Saint-Denis Abbey, which since the Merovingian period was the tomb of the French kings. The new style had its prerequisites in the rib arch, the pointed arch and the external thrust system. By combining these elements, they succeeded in making the church’s midship higher and lighter than previously possible. The Gothic in Île-de-France gained a rapid spread in the rest of France. Through the 12th century Anglo-Gothic cathedrals such as those in Paris (Notre-Dame), Laon, Noyon, Sens and Senlis as well as in Reims (Saint-Remi), French Gothic reached its peak already in the last half of the 13th century. Foremost representatives are the three “classic” cathedrals in Chartres, Reims and Amiens, but also the cathedrals in Bourges, Le Mans and Beauvais are significant. The most magnificent building became the cathedral in Beauvais, built 1247-75, taller and brighter than any previous cathedral. From about the same time is also the remarkable palace church Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, built on two floors with a hall church at the top. The walls of the upper church consist almost exclusively of windows, filled with beautiful glass paintings from the same time.
The art of building in France was mastered well into the 16th century by the Gothic style. This not only characterized the church architecture but also the profane. Castles and castles were erected in the countryside in many forms and with extremely varied floor plans; from simple donations to large palaces, such as the Pierrefonds near Paris, built in the late 1300’s. Town halls and private palaces were erected in a large number of French medieval cities, including. in Avignon, where a papacy was built during the 1300’s, which in many respects became a gateway for Italian influences in French art.
French architecture was overshadowed by the Italian after the mid-14th century, but from its close contacts between the countries an early, French Renaissance tradition was founded early on. In the royal palace building during the last half of the 16th century, Italian theory and form were combined with French craftsmanship and housing. Amboise, Blois, Chambord and Fontainebleau were erected in the Loire Valley. From the medieval castle tradition here, the palace, open to light and landscape, was gradually liberated, comfortably erected the palace, regularized by classicalism in plan and exterior form. At the same time, the gothic remained alive in construction and building condition is evident in the verticality of the roof architecture and the sculptural treatment of the facade décor.
In the construction of Fontainebleau in the 1540’s, several important Italians appeared. French architects, in particular Philibert Delorme and Jean Bullant, later turned their own Roman studies into both building works and textbooks. In Paris, Pierre Lescot’s influential new wing was added to the Louvre (1546–51). In composition, with a highlighted central part and side laterals, and in the muscular structure of the facade wall, a unique French, classicist palace type was highlighted here.
Under Henry IVThe government of around 1600 reinforced Paris as the center of construction. The urban development was supported by landscaped squares, mainly Place des Vosges from 1605. The palace type with residential suites arranged in high-ceilinged corner pavilions, joined by a central volume of galleries and halls, was given an artistically elaborate expression in Maria by the Medicis Luxembourg Palace (1614-25). by Salomon de Brosse. In the unfinished expansion of Blois (1635–38) François Mansart developed the same theme. He introduced here the broken ceiling (the mansard roof), which gave greater freedom in the volume composition. By the middle of the century, the palace architecture was renewed by freeing up the housing volume in a surrounding park. At the same time, the private rooms were combined with vestibule, lounge and stairs to a more coherent plan.
The same tendencies but with adaptation to narrow plots characterized the design of the French city palace, the hôtel, which had its typical outline with courtyard and inner garden.
During Louis XIVDuring the reign, the building system was further institutionalized and centralized, with Le Vau as one of the main players. The continued expansion of the Louvre and the castle of Versailles became the main projects. For the Louvre’s symbolically significant entrance facade to the east, in the 1660’s, in addition to Le Vau, the leading architect of the Roman Baroque Bernini. However, the proposal made was French. The project, where logs are formed by linked columns, is primarily attributed to the physician Claude Perrault. The Palace of Versailles was mainly extended through the efforts of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, beginning in 1678. The same architect executed the Invalid Judgment in Paris (1677-1706). There, a century’s evolution of the French church type, from a long-standing gothic gothic, culminates through a number of Parisian dome churches such as Val-de-Grâce,
In 1671, the French Academy of Architecture was founded with François Blondel as teaching professor. Between him and the architecturally active architect Perrault, a debate was held on contemporary status in relation to antiquity. Blondel adhered to a classic, forever-given norm, while Perrault asserted his own time’s ability to set rules. The discussion came to form a basis for the ideas of the Enlightenment and modernism.
The 18th and 19th centuries
The academy and its school dominated the architecture of the 18th and 19th centuries in a way that, despite reorganization after the 1789 revolution, provided a strong continuity. France’s reputation as Europe’s foremost architectural nation relied heavily on the authority of the academy. Important in that perspective was the connection to Rome, where the leading architects were sent for multi-year stays.
Around the middle of the 18th century, a refined development of the plan and space of the palace tradition was broken, where the interior art of rococo was created, against more elemental form properties, inspired by the meetings of the academy students with antiquity. Greek antiquity was also of great importance after the turn of the century. Elementary forms and design methods were advocated in Marc-Antoine Laugier’s influential “Essai sur l’architecture” (1753). Primarily, the church architecture was intended, where the ideas came to be embodied in Germain Soufflot’s Sainte-Geneviève, later called the Panthéon, in Paris (1757–74). There, the architecture was also invoked for Gothic architecture, which in its effect of light and lightness could be considered rational in the same sense as Greek antiquity.
In the new antiquity direction, the French tradition was developed mainly by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, in Petit Trianon in Versailles (1762) and Place de la Concorde in Paris (1755–63). Around 1780, however, a more purely antique-inspired architecture was created. Grandly original in form and content became CN Ledoux’s facility for the royal salt works in Arc-et-Senans (1774). Ledoux also created a series of expressive customs gates in Paris in the 1780’s. Other, unfinished projects by Ledoux and by the academy teacher É.L. Boullée has inspired 20th century modernism as an expression of the utopia of revolutionary theory.
The rational side of French tradition was purified in textbooks published by Boullée’s student JNL Durand, while the empirical decorative, colorful interior art was developed by the leading architects of the Napoleonic era, Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine. Their project to monumentalise Paris to a second Rome stopped at a few works, such as the Arc de Carrousel triumph. They also contributed, among other things. through several publications, to an expansion of the historical architectural interest. At the academy’s school, converted in 1816 into the École des Beaux-Arts, a reinterpretation of the role of antiquity gradually took place, where architecture could be read as a result of a long historical course. Around the turn of the century, this kind of eclecticism was subtly expressed in other buildings in Paris, such as Henri Labrouste’s Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève and Louis Duc’s waiting room in the Palais de Justice. As a corresponding imprint of the rich development path of Mediterranean culture, Léon Vaudoyer’s Cathedral was erected in Marseille (1852–93). A reputation as an international leader had the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris largely thanks to the methodology to give, in plan and volume, representative form for large, complicated building tasks. An unmatched expression was Charles Garnier’s Paris Opera (1860–78).
The historical development interest was also attached to Labrouste and others to an ideal of technical and constructive logical construction. The foreground figure in that perspective became after the century center EE Viollet-le-Duc. In his restorations of Gothic cathedrals and other medieval architecture, the buildings were perceived as technically and socially rational expressions of local, historical conditions. His many writings complete the consideration of Greek and Gothic as highlights. In that perspective, they provide a future vision of expressive use of craft methods and building materials, including the iron, for an innovative architecture. Their importance nationally and internationally became great and diverse. Youth architect Héctor Guimard was inspired in his Parisian residential houses, for example. Castel Béranger (1897), for organic forms and original material meetings. Auguste Perret was more clearly structurally influenced in various buildings where the reinforced concrete was used innovatively, such as the residential building at Rue Franklin in Paris (1903). In the same vein, Tony Garnier designed a well-known idea project for a city, Cité Industrielle (1901–04, published 1917). To some extent, the ideas were realized through Garnier’s various works in Lyon during the following decades, but above all they influenced the urbanism of modernism as a whole, through the vision of functional zoning and geometric elemental building bodies in greenery.
Modernism and modernism
The different renewal trends of the turn of the century were put forward in suggestive form by the Swiss Le Corbusier, in a number of large-scale transformation projects for Paris from the 1920’s onwards. His works stopped on a smaller scale, including some aesthetically experimental, cubist-driven twenties villas in Paris and its environs. In isolated cases, such as in Pessac near Bordeaux (1926), modernism’s program of standardization and opposition to traditional urban form was also realized. Le Corbusier’s lasting influence is connected with a constant renewal in his work. The housing enclave Unité d’habitation in Marseille (1947) and the church Notre-Dame-du-Haut in Ronchamp (1950–54) show distinctive housing social and artistic individualism.
However, in the widespread construction, the Beaux-Arts tradition remained alive well into the 20th century. It also showed a capacity to translate the new trends in form and technology. Renovation of housing forms within the traditional city framework, through variants of the terrace house, was developed by Henri Sauvage. During the interwar years, Auguste Perret became the forefront of a formal, monumental classicism with the expression of concrete. A major project in this spirit was his reconstruction after the war of Le Havre around 1950.
The 1968 dissolution of the architecture department at the École des Beaux-Arts, and thus nominally a close to three hundred years of continuity, has not contradicted the image of fragmented modernism in post-war French architecture, nor of Parisian dominance. The most notable French building projects since then have been foreign authors, such as the Parisian Machinery Romantic Culture Center, Center Beaubourg (1977), by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. Among the many new residential areas of the Paris region, great attention has been paid to the Ricardo Bofill’s various classicist projects, such as Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (1972–87), Les Espaces d’Abraxas in Marne-la-Vallée (1978–83) and Les Colonnes in Cergy-Pontoise (1985).
Modernism, however, has been marked as the official expression of French architecture, mainly through the series of centrally initiated ventures, les grand-projets, erected in 1980’s Paris. This includes Bernard Tschumi’s deconstructivist Parc de la Villette, the Louvre’s extension with a glass pyramid by IM Pei and the cubic triumphal arch in the office town of La Défense by Johan Otto von Spreckelsen. Among French architects in this new modernism, Jean Nouvel has distinguished himself for the Parisian Institute of Arabic (1987) and Dominique Perrault for the large national library built on the Seine beach from 1990.
Through the translation into French that Karl V 1373 made of Petrus Crescenzius’ interpretation of Roman garden theory, “Opus ruralium commodorum”, he is considered to have introduced the garden art in France. His own garden consisted of typical medieval garden enclosures typical of the Middle Ages, surrounded by vineyards and orchards.
By campaign to Italy in the late 1400’s and early 1500’s, the French came into close contact with the Italian Renaissance garden, and Italian artists were brought to France to, among other things, to build French counterparts at the castles of Amboise, Blois, Gaillon and Villandry. Fontainebleau’s large garden complex, built in the last half of the 16th century, together with the Tuilery Garden (1564-72) and the Luxembourg Garden (1615-35) represented a transitional form that foretold a coming heyday.
In 1595 Claude Mollet was appointed as the gardener of Henry IV and with his parterrer in Fontainebleau and the Tuileries a new arrangement was introduced for the appearance of the gardens. In Jacques Boyceau’s “Traité du jardinage” (1638) this arrangement was presented in book form. The foundation of the French Baroque Garden was laid.
The Baroque plant was based on a slightly hilly French plains landscape where alternations between openness and closedness, between parterras, bushes and water surfaces were subordinated to a shaft system with a monumental center axis. In theory, the axes could be extended in all directions in infinity and limited only by the sky and the horizon. In “Le Jardin de plaisir” (1651) André Mollet established the principles of the French Baroque Garden’s hierarchy. André Le Nôtre would be the foremost to realize them. With Vaux-le-Vicomte (1656–61) he created what can be regarded as the masterpiece of classical French garden art. Versailles and Chantilly, also those of Le Nôtre, are also among the most important works of French Baroque garden art. The scale and stature of France’s Baroque gardens affected the whole of Europe. Nicodemus Tessin i.e.:
Even before 1700, embroidery parters had been replaced by parterre à l’anglais (parterras of mowed grass) in the French garden plants, and gradually the way had been paved for the ideas of romance and the adherence to the principles of nature. The Revolution of 1789 and Rousseau’s writings brought the definitive break with the regularity of classicism and a breakthrough for the freely embodied in le jardin anglais, the English park. Initially, this was usually of a smaller size and performed as an addition to the classic gardens, as in Fontainebleau and Le Hameau in Versailles. Parc Monceau in Paris and Ermenonville outside the same city constitute more purely landscaped parks. Ermenonville is the most famous of the parks of romance in France and the one that despite the differences in the landscape best responds to its English role models.
The 19th century lacks the purely park style of the past centuries. The plants from this era usually represent a simplification of the gardens of romance. This greatly characterizes parks such as Buttes-Chaumont and Parc Montsouris, created during the great redevelopment of Paris. Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes were also added during this period. New was that the parks now became available to the public. A reaction to the irregularity of the English style and a renewed interest in Le Nôtre in the late 19th century resulted in many restorations and reconstructions in Baroque manor. One of the most original gardens in this spirit is the one at the Renaissance Castle in Villandry, renovated 1906-24. During the 1980’s and 1990’s,
The oldest tracks of a particularly French music are in the Gregorian song, whose so-called standard repertoire took its final form on French soil. France’s religious centers also played an important role in new liturgical song forms such as trope and sequence. The Southern French troubadours and the Northern French trouvères provided early examples of noted worldly vocal music in their love songs during the 12th and 13th centuries. In church music, the majority was developed into its first flowering of the Notre-Dame school in Paris with masters such as Leoninus and Perotinus. The Ars nova period (1300’s) was very rich, with Guillaume de Machautas a central person. The Burgundian school around 1450 (Guillaume Dufay and others), like the so-called Dutch schools (eg Josquin Desprez) had strong links with France.
A purely French phenomenon was the multi-part chanson with elegant or playful content that had its heyday during the mid-16th century with representatives such as Clément Janequin, Claudin de Sermisy (born c. 1490. died 1562) and Claude Goudimel – the latter otherwise best known for their compositions of psalm tarps. The ballet comique de la reine (1581), which by its mix of mythological intrigue, vocal music and dance, foresaw the birth of the opera 20 years later.
In the heavily centralized France, Jean-Baptiste Lully was given a privileged position as a composer of ballets and operas in the 1660’s, some in collaboration with Molière, and stated with them the style ideal that would apply for several generations. In the French harpsichord tradition there were significant composers such as Jacques Champion de Chambonnières and Louis Couperin and François Couperin; in the lute art, Denis Gaultier was an important name. Marc-Antoine Charpentier included Italian style elements in his cantatas, as did François Couperin in his chamber music. The last champion of the French Baroque was Bach’s and Handel’s generation-mate Jean-Philippe Rameau, which has created significant chamber music and operas and is one of the biggest names in music theory.
In the middle of the 18th century, the opera comic was established as a very vital art form. Gluck’s entry into the French musical drama brought about one of the many battles in French music. The French Revolution was reflected in a variety of operas with democratic tendencies and ceremonial hymns. During the Revolution, the Paris Conservatory was instituted, the first example of a state-run musician education. Later, teaching was conducted at a particularly high level, not least in singing, violin and wind instruments.
During the 19th century, many immigrants played important roles in French music: Luigi Cherubini, Gioacchino Rossini, Frédéric Chopin, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Jacques Offenbach, César Franck. During the first half of the century, Hector Berlioz was the only truly prominent native composer. In the 1860’s and 1870’s, a strong revitalization of music creation took place, and a new high period was initiated by Charles Gounod, Camille Saint-Saëns and Georges Bizet, and fortified by the formation of the Société nationale de musique in 1871. At this time, the French organ school also began (Charles-Marie Widor, Alexandre Guilmant and others) to flourish, using Aristide Cavaillé-Coll’s romantic organs as their means of expression. Franck’s composition students, including Henri Duparc, Ernest Chausson and Vincent d’Indy, underwent a strong influence from Wagner’s operas, in contrast to the genuinely French composer Gabriel Fauré. In the dynamic music life of this era, Claude Debussy’s music came around the years as a strong and fascinating news, and during the first decades of the 20th century, important style impulses from France to other countries were emitted. About the same stage is Maurice Ravel, as wellAlbert Roussel and Erik Satie.
Within the soluble composer group Les Six, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger and Francis Poulenc appear to be significant representatives of the French music of the interwar period. Olivier Messiaen and Pierre Boulez are among those who managed atonal and serial modernism after the Second World War. The former had already been part of the group La jeune France together with André Jolivet and others in the 1930’s. On the electro-acoustic side can be mentioned Pierre Schaeffersand others’ work in the 1950’s with concrete music, where pre-existing sounds are processed. With roots in this music, French composers of spectral music have noticed, e.g. Gérard Grisey (1946–98) and Tristan Murail (born 1947). Recent notable composers include Henri Dutilleux, Pascal Dusapin (born 1955), Jacques Burtin (born 1955) and Joseph-François Kremer (born 1954).
France’s music history also includes the renaissance of the Gregorian song from the end of the 19th century, starting from the Monastery of Solesmes, whose song form became a worldwide pattern, not least through a series of recordings. Characteristic features of French music history are the formation of groups and coteries (Gluckists, Franciscans, Debussists), as well as battles around various foreign influences: the Italians, Gluck, Wagner, Stravinsky. On the stylistic level, there is a recurring attraction to the illustrative, from Janequin’s battalion music to descriptive harpsichord pieces to Debussy. From the middle of the 19th century one can note a strong interest in the exotic.
French folk music began to be mapped in the middle of the 19th century. Folk music is generally unanimous and often accompanied by table tones. Well-known French folk music instruments are the bagpipe (cornemuse), vevlira (vielle) and the southern French combination of one-handed flute (galoubet) and drum, played by the same person. Folk French popular music of traditional type is often associated with the muset drag play.
The French dialect tradition of modern incision has its roots in the 18th century vaudeville songs and folk romances and in, for example. Pierre Jean de Béranger’s satirical 19th century poems. The genre became a cabaret show in the late 19th century and was represented during the early part of the 20th century by artists such as Maurice Chevalier, Charles Trenet and Edith Piaf. In the 1930’s, French jazz achieved international success through the French hot quintet with guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli.
In the decades following the Second World War, poets and singers such as Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel and Léo Ferré gained great popularity. Other popular singers active during this period include Dalida (actually Yolanda Christina Gigliotti, 1933–87), Mireille Mathieu, Charles Aznavour and Serge Gainsbourg.
American and British rock music inspired French successors such as Johnny Hallyday, Richard Anthony (actually Ricardo Btesh, born 1938) and Dick Rivers (really Hervé Forneri, born 1945) from the late 1950’s. Under the genre name yé-yé, early French rock also included popular singers such as Sylvie Vartan, France Gall (born 1947) and Françoise Hardy.
During the years around 1970, psychedelic rock was represented by artists such as Jean-Pierre Massiera (born 1941), and the Breton musician Alan Stivell launched a French folk rock style based on Breton and Celtic folk music. “Progressive” symphonic rock was played by bands such as Magma, Atoll and Pulsar, towards the end of the 1970’s punk rock bands such as Stinky Toys, Oberkampf and Métal Urbain appeared, and at the same time the symphonic synth musician Jean-Michel Jarre achieved great international success.
With the international spread of hip hop in the 1980’s, French hip hop artists such as IAM, Suprême NTM and MC Solaar appeared. The genre reached wide spread, especially in the large suburban areas of immigrant cities, and its popularity has continued into the 21st century.
French heavy metal is represented by bands such as Hacride, Kronos and Gojira as well as black metal groups such as Deathspell Omega and Vlad Tepes. From the late 1990’s, the electropop groups Air and Daft Punk as well as techno artists Laurent Garnier (born 1966) and David Guetta (born 1967) achieved success in France and internationally. In France’s large immigrant groups from the Arab world, rai music, originating in Algeria, has reached a wide spread since the 1990’s, as are the Moroccan genres chaabi and gnawa.
The French countryside is rich in peculiar, aged local folk dances, remnants of past immigrant cultures. French refined taste characterized the social dance of the western world, whose changing motherly directions were dictated by the court in Paris until the 19th century. During the 20th century, American jazz took the lead in French entertainment, as well as in Europe in general. One genre in itself was the dance art of the cabarets, typically French, especially the cancan that originated in the 1830’s.
The history of the French classical ballet is almost identical to the development in Western Europe from about the 1600’s to the 19th century, and Paris Opera Theater was its center (see ballet). In the 1900’s, Diaghilew’s Russian emigrant ensemble took the initiative in France, and Paris is today characterized by dance guest performances from all over the world. The modern trends that came from the United States with Isadora Duncan circa 1900 found for a long time imitation of French dancers. An explosion of free dance beginning in the 1960’s gave France hundreds of original, experimental dance groups and choreographers, half of them supported by state and local government. For the first time, Paris’s dominance was broken by the amount of cultural houses set up around the country. This modern dance art has attracted a larger audience in France since the 1980’s than in any other European country.
France’s folk culture is based on a Celtic (Gallic) substrate common to the entire country. The cultural influences that resulted from invasions at different times from neighboring areas (by Romans and British, by Visigoths, Franks, Burgundians and other Germanic peoples as well as by the Nordic Vikings), as well as the presence of as yet culturally assimilated minorities in the country’s periphery (Breton, Basques, Flemish, Germans, etc.) have created eye-catching regional differences, mainly between northern, Celtic and Germanic embossed cultural features and southerners related to Mediterranean culture and partly with roots in Roman times.
Roman legislation, economics and festival customs, etc., like the church tradition emanating from Rome, came to – with Celtic elements – be a unifying factor of great importance for the whole country, especially its urban culture. The dominance of wheat cultivation and the consequent French preference for wheat bread can also be mentioned as examples of the same influence. In the first place, however, only the area closest to the Mediterranean was subjected to a more thorough transformation by Roman immigration. farm planning, olive cultivation and – in ancient times – certain elements of agriculture, such as the trampling as a threshing method.
Further north, in the countryside you first encounter a belt where the “common” type of farm (with pets and people gathered in two- or multi-storey houses under a single roof), with similar forms in southern Germany, dominates, then in northern and eastern France, as well as in Belgium and central Germany, the usual “Frankish” farm with a number of lengths around a farmyard of a farm type. Farms with a single continuous length or a pair, angular or parallel, are found in the west and on the coasts in the north. Within the food culture, which is very varied and exhibits many local specialties, it can be noted that northern France belongs to the north-western European dairy farming area with, among other things. extensive cheese making and using butter instead of olive oil;
In the case of folklore, there are corresponding regional differences. France’s role as a country of origin or center of dissemination is acknowledged in several European fairy tales and sayings, as well as of course in the fairy tale literature in the 18th century, but also for several festivals, eg. the celebration of Saint Martin (Mårten) and the older Saint Nicholas celebration in the schools.
Documentation of French folk culture takes place mainly through the 1937 Musée national des arts et traditions populaires established in Paris with its Center d’ethnologie française operating since 1966. The regionally-run hometown research has claimed a very strong position with many museums and a frequent publication of writings.
Food and drinks
For France’s food traditions and wine making, see French food and French wines.