The Rise and Fall of the Neo-Romantics, Sarah Rose Sharp, δημοσίευση στο Hyperallergic [31/1/2023]
Theatres of Melancholy: The Neo-Romantics in Paris and Beyond highlights a group of artists who found acclaim and patronage only to fall back into obscurity.
Many a living artist is preoccupied with achieving recognition in their own time, and not without reason — we cannot all rely on the luck of Vivian Maier, to be discovered and championed posthumously. While finding reception for one’s work is a gratifying and necessary career aspect for those artists without other means of support, there is perhaps a blind spot to this obsession, as it supposes that once discovered, a legacy will remain. That’s one of the interesting parts of Theatres of Melancholy: The Neo-Romantics in Paris and Beyond (Thames & Hudson, 2022), by Patrick Mauriès, which highlights a movement and group of artists who found acclaim and patronage in some of the biggest names of their era, only to fall back into obscurity, eclipsed by the shifting shadows of more titanic art movements.
Mauriès focuses on a group of artists — Christian Bérard and Thérèse Debains, both French; Russians Pavel Tchelitchew and the brothers Eugène and Leonid Berman; and the Dutchman Kristians Tonny — who sparked the movement in 1926 with a three-day exhibition at the Galerie E. Druet in Paris. The show made waves, falling amidst the height of Cubism (just between Picasso’s Blue and Rose periods), rejecting abstraction and making a return to figurative painting that employed anachronistic techniques, such as trompe l’oeil. Its practitioners were also playful and experimental, contributing to theater, decorative arts, and ballet through their painting, rather than remaining hermetically sealed off from other forms of expression, and were dubbed the “Neo-Romantics” or “Neo-Humanists” by art critic Waldemar-George, one of their passionate supporters.
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