The Salon d’Automne

Henri Matisse Woman with a Hat 1905
Henri Matisse Woman with a Hat 1905

The Salon d’Automne (Autumn Salon)  or Société du Salon d’automne, was established in 1903 as a progressive alternative to the Paris Salon, and a more ‘discriminating’ alternative to the Salon des Independants.

It was organized by Georges Rouault, André Derain, Henri Matisse and Albert Marquet.

The aim of the salon was to encourage the development of the fine arts, to serve as an outlet for young artists of all nationalities, and as a platform to broaden the dissemination of Impressionism, and its extensions, (modern art) to a popular audience.

Choosing the autumn season for the exhibition allowed artists to exhibit canvases painted outside (en plein air) during the summer, and it ensured that the Salon stood out from both the Paris Salon and the National Salon which were held in the spring.

The Salon d’Automne took a multidisciplinary approach to exhibitions and was open to paintings, sculptures, photographs (from 1904), drawings, engravings, and applied arts. Any member could submit a work for the annual show, and the selection jury was made up of ordinary members of the Society chosen by the drawing of straws.

Its early exhibitions were held at the Palais des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris .

The success of the Salon d’Automne was due to the tremendous impact of its exhibitions on both the art world and the general public, extending from 1903 to the outset of the First World War.

Each successive exhibition denoted a development in modern art: Beginning with retrospectives of Gauguin, Cézanne and others; the Salon exhibited works by the  Fauves, Cubists, Orphists, and Futurists. (The name ‘Fauve’ came from a description by a critic after seeing work by Matisse and others at the Salon in 1905, and Cubism was strongly influenced by the retrospective of Paul Cezanne in 1907.)

Other famous artists associated with the Salon d’Automne  included painters such as Paul Gauguin, August Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Georges Braque  and Marc Chagall and sculptors like Aristide Maillol Constantin Brancusi), and Ossip Zadkine.

Decorative art was also shown, including Art Nouveau glassworks by the French jeweller Rene Lalique and architectural designs by Le Corbusier (Charles Edouard Jeanneret).

The Salon d’Automne remains an important part of the contemporary Paris art scene today.

This is an excerpt from my  online Introduction to Modern European Art art appreciation program

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