Guggenheim
anquetin linterieur de chez bruant le mirliton
Past exhibition

Fin-de-siècle Paris was a time and place of political upheaval and cultural transformation, during which sustained economic crisis and social problems spurred the rise of radical left-wing groups and an attendant backlash of conservatism that plagued France throughout the late 1890s. In 1894, President Sadi Carnot fell victim to an anarchist assassination, while the nationally divisive Dreyfus Affair began with the unlawful conviction for treason of Alfred Dreyfus, an officer of Alsatian and Jewish descent. Such events laid bare the poles of France: bourgeois and bohemian, conservative and radical, Catholic and anticlerical, antirepublican and anarchist.

Mirroring the facets of an anxious, unsettled era, this period witnessed a spectrum of artistic movements. By the late 1880s, a generation of artists had emerged that included Neo-Impressionists, Symbolists, and Nabis. Their subject matter remained largely the same as that of their still-active Impressionist forebears: landscapes, the modern city, and leisure-time activities; however, these scenes were joined by introspective and fantastical visions, and the treatment of these familiar subjects shifted. The avant-garde ambition to spontaneously capture a fleeting moment of contemporary life ceded to the pursuit of carefully crafted works that were antinaturalistic in form and execution, and which sought to elicit emotions, sensations, and psychic changes in the viewer. Despite their sometimes contradictory stances, these artists shared the goal of creating art with a universal resonance, and there was even overlap among members of the groups. Surveyed together, the idioms of this tumultuous decade map a complex terrain of divergent and collective aesthetic and philosophical theories, while charting the destabilizing events on the cusp of two centuries.

Louis Anquentin 
Inside Bruant’s Mirliton (l’intérieur de Chez Bruant: Le Mirliton)
1886-87
Oil on canvas
145 x 157 cm
Private collection

Did you know that...?

HEADLINES FOR AN UNSETTLED FIN DE SIÈCLE

The Didaktika project offers visitors the chance to complement their experience of the exhibitions on view with didactic presentations in educational spaces and with special activities. On this occasion, Didaktika focuses on the unsettled sociopolitical and cultural context of the art created in the last decades of the 19th century in Paris.
More info

POLITICAL UPHEAVAL: THE DREYFUS AFFAIR

Paris, 1894. The Dreyfus Affair Divides Public Opinion Alfred Dreyfus, a French captain of Jewish-Alsatian descent, was accused of treason for handing over documents to the German government. Several intellectuals—such as writer Émile Zola in his famous letter "J'accuse" published in the newspapers—blamed the French government of being anti-Semitic; in contrast, the nationalist newspapers wanted the traitor’s blood.
More info

MORAL DECADENCE: THE POPULARITY OF CABARETS AND CAFÉ-CONCERTS

Paris, 1881. Artist Rodolphe Salis Opens the First Cabaret in Montmartre: Le Chat Noir (The Black Cat) Frequented by artists and intellectuals, cabarets abounded in Paris and set off alarms among the city’s more conservative sectors, who condemned them and their habitués as evidence of society’s moral decadence.
More info

ANXIETY: SUICIDE

Pont des Arts, Paris, 1906. Increasing Anxiety in Paris: The Number of Suicides on the Rise A woman who jumped off of the Pont des Arts bridge is rescued from the Seine River. The dramatic events that took place on Rue Saint-Sébastien and the Pont des Arts illustrate the increase in suicide rates in Paris.
More info

ANXIETY: HYSTERIA

Paris, ca. 1887. Neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot Diagnoses New Cases of Hysteria In the late 19th century, numerous cases of hysteria and mental disorders were diagnosed.
More info

TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS: THE FIRST FILM SCREENING

Paris, 1895. Early Public Film Screening More than 200 people gathered at the Société d'encouragement pour l’industrie nationale in Paris, on March 22, to see Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon (La Sortie de l'usine Lumière à Lyon), among the first public film screenings in history.
More info

THE MERGER OF SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM: THE THEORIES OF CAMILLE FLAMMARION

Paris, 1880. Astronomer Camille Flammarion Suggests Using Science to Unravel the Mysteries of the Universe Camille Flammarion promoted science through his publications. His seminal 1880 work, Popular Astronomy, was extremely well received by the French middle classes.
More info

THE EXPLORATION OF VISUAL TECHNIQUES: JAPONISME

Paris, 1892. Gallery Owner and Collector Siegfried Bing Joins the "Japan Society" The English Society much expanded by German-French dealer Samuel Bing allowed lovers of Eastern art to gather eight times a year in different places around Paris and share and express their admiration for Japanese aesthetics.
More info

THE EXPLORATION OF VISUAL TECHNIQUES: THE SCIENCE OF COLOR

Paris, 1886. Art Critic Félix Fénéon Describes the Quest of the Neo-Impressionists, such as Paul Signac, to Create Optical Illusions through New Painting Techniques, like Pointillism The exploration of new painting techniques characterized fin-de-siècle art and opened up new possibilities and alternatives to classic oil paintings, and to the and pastels, drawings, engravings, and lithographic and woodcut prints of the era.
More info