4 April 2017
The Ashmolean’s spring exhibition tells one of the most compelling stories in the history of art - the rise of Modernism. From about 1800 to the middle of the twentieth century, this story was played out in France and especially in Paris where international artists were drawn by salons and dealers, the creative exchange between poets and painters and the bohemian atmosphere of such places as Montmartre and Montparnasse. The exhibition plots a course from the Romantic artists (David, Gericault and Delacroix) to the groundbreaking experiments of Picasso, Braque and Léger; but it shows that there was no straight line leading from tradition to the shock of abstraction. The story is altogether more interesting as the academic and the avant-garde exchanged ideas and rivalries developed between different schools and powerful characters. In works by Bonnard, Manet, Pissarro, Cézanne, Degas and Picasso, the exhibition explores the artists who created Modernism and how they did it.