Despite the brief dismantling of the Royal Academy during the French Revolution, art remained an extension of the power of the French State. During this time, regularly purchased art often favored that of its supported political objectives. However, through the Royal Academy, which had originally been founded by King Louis XIV, the state extended its reach to the official exhibitions (salons) to matters of style and subject matter through the École des Beaux Arts (Khan).
Evolving from this, was one of the great state jewels of Napoleon III’s newly reconstructed city. The Paris Opera House (L’Opéra), designed by Charles Garnier was the “new cathedral of bourgeois…”(Khan). Commissioned of the Second Empire, this glittering centerpiece of the “new” Paris was the key to understanding the somewhat perverse culture and spectacle among the wealthier classes of the Second Empire.
Artist Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, often expanded on this idea through the baroque style. Often infusing his sculptures with a previously unseen freedom and more naturalistic style that departed away from the traditional approaches of historical subjects and portrait. As seen on the facade of the Opera House is his original marble relief La Danse, of 1869, depicts an allegorical figure symbolic of “dance” encircled by five nymphs’.
Shortly after the unveiling of this controversial figure group in 1869, Carpeaux in need of funds, began to capitalize on the group by extracting bust, individual figures and group figures. These reductions where then sold to collectors and put on display such as the one I viewed at the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum.
In this reduction, the main allegorical figure (génie) , is accompanied by a small infant that ...
... middle of paper ...
...aming down upon it! Im sure the way light moved crossed the figures was just magnificent.
To conclude I would like to readdress my initial feelings towards the artwork as well as highlight some key points that Carpeuax has used to capture the viewers attention. Originally, my initial response to the sculpture was a feeling of exuberance, excitement and happiness. Looking at the génie figure I was immediately reminded of myself. Furthermore, the small child that accompanies him, reminding me of the simple pleasures of a once lived childhood. With a further examination on format; with the breaking of boundaries through figures, volume, mass, light and texture; as seen working collectively to create a naturalistic human form, we are able to understand how all of these elements work together to create a work of art that inspires the preceding generations.
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