The Business Secrets of the Impressionists (2/10) A Society of Artists

Chapter 1 - A Society of Artists

Paris, 1873.
The Café Guerbois is packed with artists and Members of an emerging middle class called " the new bourgeois", getting richer and more influential every year.
In a smoky room, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Alfred Sisley, and Camille Pissarro are talking.
They are setting up a company, more precisely, a society of artists who intend to exhibit their works independently.
This so-called Society of the Impressionists chooses to distance itself from the old Art Academy.
The Art Acadmy rewards paintings whose main themes are either religious or mythological.
The Impressionists decide to no longer wait for anyone's approval and directly offer their paintings to the general public.
The group has been meeting for a few years, more or less regularly, and has gradually faced almost complete exclusion from the traditional Salon des Beaux- Arts.
The Salon is the only "trade-show" where they could exhibit their artworks.
In France, there are no alternatives for original artists.
There are basically no art galleries, and only a handful of art dealers.
In such a context, the only official yearly "trade show" of the country, "the Salon", is of crucial importance.
The Salon literally makes or breaks careers. Exhibiting there is a must.
To make it might mean financial success and glory. But it is far from guaranteed.
The Salon is a crowded bazaar of more than 5000 works of art, cramped in high ceiling rooms.
It is very hard to get noticed at the Salon, but it is virtually impossible to succeed without exhibiting in it.
That was before the Impressionists, of course!

Next : Risky Business

François Bellavance

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