Gustave Courbet: Unsentimental Realism

Gustave Courbet: Unsentimental Realism

Book rating: 03 Paperback Taschen Basic Art

By (author) Fabrice Masanes

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  • Publisher: Taschen GmbH
  • Format: Paperback | 96 pages
  • Dimensions: 182mm x 226mm x 10mm | 358g
  • Publication date: 7 December 2006
  • Publication City/Country: Cologne
  • ISBN 10: 3822856835
  • ISBN 13: 9783822856833
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations (chiefly col.), ports. (some col.)
  • Sales rank: 185,119

Product description

"I maintain," stated Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), "that painting is clearly a concrete art whose existence lies only in the representation of real and existing objects..." Courbet, who influenced and advised the fledgling Impressionists, was an outstanding representative of a naturalistic realism that highlights the contradictions and inequities in society. Revolutionary were Courbet's style, with dark hues and heavy brushstrokes, and choice of subject - depictions the life of plain people treated in an unsentimental, down to earth manner. His influence was enormous during his lifetime; he was offered the cross of the Legion of Honor in 1872 but he refused it. A man always at odds with authority, be it artistic or political, Courbet became a member of the Paris Commune and was briefly imprisoned and forced to flee to Switzerland for the final years of his life.

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Author information

Fabrice Masanes received his doctorate in art history and specializes in the 19th century art. He contributed to the Musee d'Orsay's catalog Courbet et la Commune. Masanes currently teaches at the University of Paris in Vincennes-Saint-Denis.

Customer reviews

By Mark Thwaite 10 Dec 2008 3

The painter Jean Desire Gustave Courbet (1819–1877), student of the classical painter Charles-Antoine Flajoulet, led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting. In Dr Fabrice Masanes copiously illustrated short introduction, part of Taschen's excellent Basic Art Series, he is hailed as "the Last of the Romantics". Credited with coining the term Realism, Courbet was both an influence on, and an advisor to, the fledgling Impressionist movement. His radical, naturalistic paintings, with their dark colours and strong brushstrokes, at odds with both the preeminent Romantic and Neoclassical styles of the time, highlighted the inequalilites of the French society of the nineteenth century. His erotic and forthright nudes, as with the work of Manet, acted as critiques to the hypocrisy he witnessed all around him. And Courbet's radicalism was not reserved for his painting: he became a member of the Paris Commune, was arrested in June 1871 and briefly imprisoned, and was forced to flee to Switzerland. Every page of this budget art book contains full colour reproductions of Courbet's breathtaking painting and it represents astonishing value for money. Masanes' accompanying text is informed, readable and detailed. A superb introduction.