GEORGE DESVALLIÈRES

PAINTING BODY AND SOUL

Petit Palais - City of Paris' Museum of Fine Arts

MARCH 15 — JULY 17 2016

This exhibition is the first retrospective dedicated to the painter George Desvallières (1861-1950), marking the publication of the annotated catalogue of his complete works under the direction of Catherine Ambroselli de Bayser.

Desvallières, a man of commitment, whose style is powerful and refined, made the human figure a central focus of his work, as the heroic incarnation of ardent spirituality. Originally, as a secular painter, he was under the direction of Gustave Moreau. He expressed his independence from academic training and his interest in all art forms at a young age. His participation in founding the Salon d’Automne, inaugurated in 1903 in the Petit Palais, marked the turning point of his career. There he welcomed the avant-gardes of Fauvism and then Cubism, and defended them in the midst of raging criticism. His style came to reflect a critical naturalism, which depicted cosmopolitan nights in London and Montmartre. As he matured he returned to the Christian faith, and alongside Georges Rouault defended an activist and social approach to Christianity, encouraged by the strong personality of Léon Bloy. As a battalion chief in the Great War, he was one of the first artists back from the front to depict the unthinkable experience of battle through monumental commissions. Stirred on in his spiritual quest by the painful experience of the First World War, he became one of the most active advocates of sacred art, training a young generation of Christian artists alongside Maurice Denis. Having received recognition in 1937 at the exhibition of Masters of independent art, organized at the Petit Palais, his work is once again being showcased on the walls of the City of Paris’ Museum of Fine Arts.

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CURATORS: Isabelle Collet, Head Curator at the Petit Palais; Catherine Ambroselli de Bayser, Scientific Advisor

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