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French Art 101 - Eugene Delacroix, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque

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French art dates back to prehistoric times, which can be seen in the beautiful cave paintings in Pech Merle. Throughout history, French art has created wonderful pieces, especially in terms of architecture, still present in churches and cities all around the country. It was with modern art, however, that the French really made a mark, and changed the way we think of art, and the world itself. So without further ado, we give you some of the most important French modern artist:

1. Eugene Delacroix

This Romantic painter eventually inspired the work of impressionists with his experimental and bold brushstrokes. Delacroix was influenced by classical Greek and Roman art, as well as Renaissance style. His most iconic painting, Liberty Leading the People, can be found in practically all European history textbooks, and is proudly hanging permanently at the Louvre.

2. Claude Monet

Probably the most well known Impressionist, Monet revolutionized art by challenging the idea that it should accurately represent real life. Instead, he was concerned with the impression of images, and how light changed this impression. His most famous works are probably his water lilies paintings, which were inspired by the pond in his house in Giverny (now open to visitors). Impressionism was one of the first movements to change how the world thought of as art, and Monet stands as one of the pioneers of the movement.

3. Paul Gauguin

This Post-Impressionist painter experimented with several styles throughout his lifetime. He used colors that were vivid and even unnatural, a sharp contrast to the artistic styles of the era. Painters such as Picasso and Matisse cited him as one of their sources of inspiration, especially since he was concerned with expressing the essence of his subjects. Gauguin’s paintings depicting life in French Polynesia are some of his most famous ones, and inspired artistic movements and a return to pastoral themes. Unfortunately, it was not until after his death that his work was appreciated.

4. Henri Matisse

Considered one of the pioneers of artistic revolutions in the 20th century, Matisse dared question the status quo and academic ideas of art. Though originally a Fauvist, Matisse’s career was not static and evolved with the times. His use of bright, unrealistic, and often-saturated colors, seen clearly in his painting La danse, gives his work a distinct signature and feeling. Matisse is often grouped together with Pablo Picasso, and Marcel Duchamp as the artists who defined the avant-garde.

5. Georges Braque

Although not as widely recognized as Picasso, Georges Braque was also the pioneer of Cubism. His clear, geometric figures helped create some of the most beautiful works of Cubism, such as La guitarre, and Violin and Candlestick. His artistic philosophy was to get as close to the object as possible, which he believed was achieved by fragmenting them. Braques also contributed some incredible paintings to Fauvism, with which he experimented before becoming partners with Picasso.

France was also the home of several important foreign artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Vincent Vangogh.

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