Gustave Courbet

Jan 8, 2015 4:51PM
In their Foreword to Gustave Courbet, the beautiful new exhibition catalog by Hatje CantzFondation Beyeler's Sam Keller and Ulf Küster write, "Joachim Gasquet reports that Cézanne repeatedly voiced his enthusiasm for Courbet, referring to him approvingly as a 'bricklayer,' a 'rough and ready plasterer,' and a 'color grinder.' Cézanne was alluding to Courbet's revolutionary approach to paint as a substance with a life of its own. Color applied to the canvas with a palette knife acquired a significance in his work equal to that of the motif. For the first time ever, an artist's material was the 'real' subject of art: the motif decreased in importance as the how' of an image became more significant than the 'what'—one of the prime factors in the emergence of abstraction…. Courbet was the first artist to state publicly that he was answerable only to himself and his individual will—in full awareness of tradition, but independent of it. No 'higher powers,' no academic rules would prevent him from pursuing what he alone considered to be the correct path. This artistic ideal has remained definitive ever since." Featured image, "Courbet au chien noir (Portrait de l'artiste)" (1842) is reproduced from Gustave Courbet.
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