Published by Hatje Cantz. Contributions by Ulf Küster.
Gustave Courbet (1819–1877) is considered to have introduced the practice of socially engaged painting, and he is viewed as one of the most important representatives of Realism. The direct and honest depictions of Realist painters challenged the idealized subject matter of academic painting and scandalized the Parisian society of the nineteenth century. Courbet became a leading figure of the rebellious artistic bohemia and cultivated a lively exchange with the predominant poets and artists of his era. However, he was not merely an anti-establishment provocateur; he significantly revolutionized landscape painting. With seven essays, this volume offers an introduction to selected aspects of the artist’s life and work. His paintings will also inspire even those who may not be well versed in the world of art. Courbet’s incredibly rich oeuvre and his exciting biography make him an artist worth discovering again and again.
Published by Hatje Cantz. Edited by Ulf Küster. Text by Stéphane Guégan, Michel Hilaire, Ulf Küster, Laurence Madeline, Bruno Mottin, James Rubin.
Published for an exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler, this volume concentrates on Gustav Courbet's position as the first avant-garde painter. With his provocative canvases and his emphasis on the artist as individual, Courbet was a crucial precursor of modernism who broke with the conventions of traditional academic training. Featuring self-portraits, representations of women and pictures of grottos and seascapes, this volume highlights Courbet's innovative implementation of color and his strategic use of ambiguity. Other themes include his break with French academic tradition, the development of Realism in art, his revolutionary impasto painting technique and his playful treatment of traditional motifs and symbols. Courbet's famous painting "L'origine du monde" is at the heart of the book and exhibition. Made in 1866, the painting was for decades the unknown masterpiece of the nineteenth century-a work that few saw at the time but which everyone discussed, and which retains its provocativeness even today. Courbet's landscapes-depicting the springs, caves, steep limestone cliffs and the forests of Jura around Ornans, where he was born-are often combined with representations of the female nude, uniting sexuality and nature in a fascinating equilibrium. Other canvases center on the impenetrable darkness of mountain caves (showing Courbet to have been a master of suggestion), and snowscapes.
Published by Hatje Cantz. Edited by Klaus Herding, Max Hollein. Text by Bettina Erche, Sylvain Amic.
The intertwined stories of Realism and modernism begin with the great innovations of Gustave Courbet (1819-1877). Realism sought to record the messiness, poverty and brute facts of everyday life in urban and rural France, against the restrictions of religion and class and the high-flown emotion of the Romantic painters. Courbet's "Burial at Ornans" is a classic instance of Courbet's stance: it depicts a funeral in rural Ornans, and uses the occasion's actual participants, instead of models, portraying them entirely without sentiment, and on a scale usually reserved for royal subjects. But in his portraits, landscapes, drawings and still lifes, Courbet frequently suggested a more meditative, inward-looking realm, somewhat removed from his declarations of social realities, and revealed in such works his virtuoso touch and formal brilliance. Gustave Courbet: A Dream of Modern Art introduces this "other" Courbet, the painter whose vision of nature and formal preoccupations were later inherited by Cézanne and Picasso, and further built on by the Symbolists and Surrealists. With over 200 color reproductions of the French Realist's work, as well as essays by Sylvain Amic and Bettina Erche, this volume acts as a welcome counterweight to the Courbet we thought we already knew, further complicating and enriching our understanding of one of the most influential European painters any century has produced.
Published by Hatje Cantz. Text by Sylvain Amic, Kathryn Calley Galitz, Laurence des Cars, Dominique Lobstein, Bruno Mottin, Thomas Galifot, Bertrand Tillier.
Nowadays it is difficult to conceive of the impact that Gustave Courbet’s paintings made on French art of the mid-nineteenth century. At once casting himself as revolutionary, bohemian and peasant, Courbet (1819-1877) overturned a deeply-entrenched tradition of academic painting in France, and, eschewing the Romanticism of Delacroix and the NeoClassicism of Ingres, coined instead an idiom he named “Realism.” Realism was not pretty, classically proportioned or literary; rather, it confronted the conditions of rural working life, then an unimaginable subject for art. The first masterpiece of this new style was “Burial at Ornans” (1849-1850), a colossal anti-epic that depicted an ordinary funeral in Courbet’s home town. The contrast between the work’s scale and its subject matter was pronounced, and its murky earth tones struck critics as willfully ugly--a defining reaction that would recur throughout the Modern period, particularly in the reception of early works by Manet and Picasso. Courbet’s palette emphasized mass and body politically--that is, in a manner that affirmed the world itself rather than the transcendence of it. His equally famous “The Origin of the World” of 1866, which presented the female genitalia close-up, made this stance explicit. The conceptual beginnings of the “painting of Modern life” are as much in Courbet’s Realism as in Charles Baudelaire’s famous essay of the same name. In this new assessment, published on the occasion of a major 2008 traveling exhibition, renowned experts shed light on the development of Courbet’s realistic, critical style and trace his influence on his contemporaries and subsequent generations, as well as his relationship to early photography. At 480 pages, this monumental volume provides a long-overdue reckoning of this great artist’s work.