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"The Rise of Paris: The Art of the Modernist Period" on view at Aidan Meller Galleries
Marc Chagall, Lithograph. Photo: Aidan Meller Gallery.

OXFORD.- This exhibition lifts the lid on the extraordinary creative power of Paris at the beginning of the 20th century and how the Modernist artists, such as Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall were able to freely express their new artistic movement.

By the time Picasso went to Paris in 1900, the city was an extremely fertile ground for creativity, with all the right conditions for new artistic movements to happen. The century before the Louvre had opened, as well as the Académie des Beaux-Arts, with it influential Art Salons. It is true to say that the French State was a keen lover of the arts.

However, it was the Post Impressionists, Cezanne, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec, who with their own Salons, paved the way for Modernism. Chagall & Picasso felt they did not fit it with the State Salons, so along with other new artistic groups, in the districts of Montmartre and Montparnasse, went about exhibiting their work away from the likes of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.

Alongside these influences, the changing society of France meant that there was the changing collector base. The industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism was increasingly creating a new class of collector. Whereas art collecting had traditionally been a pastime for the aristocracy, you now had people like the Rothschilds banking dynasty and department store magnate Aristide Boucicaut and Ernest Hoschedé who were social outsiders and wanted to buy more innovative art that expressed their own social backgrounds.

Key collectors like Kahnweiler and Gertrude Stein, cemented The Modernists power and took them to the next level, as people from around the world took notice of their collections. From their humble beginnings as strangers to the French Capital to their incredible influence in Art History, the artists of The Modernist era, were true entrepreneurs of their time.

The exhibition includes works by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall & Henri Matisse.

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