Friday, April 6, 2007

Moreau’s Apparition

Today is the 181st birthday of Gustave Moreau, born in Paris, France, in 1826. Moreau not only was a great artist himself, creating much of the style that was to become the Symbolist school, but was also a teacher of other masters such as Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault.

(Shown above is Moreau’s Salome Dancing [The Apparition], with Salome dancing before Herod as John the Baptist’s spectral head floats in midair. I’ve always been fascinated by this painting since I saw it on the cover of a CD I have of Richard Strauss’ 1905 opera Salome.)

Moreau is one of those "six degreesfigures in art. Through Matisse and Rouault, he influences Fauvism. Through Fauvism, he influences Expressionism, which created a taste for the work of Edvard Munch, who had to go to Germany to be appreciated in his native Norway and the rest of the world. And, as I discovered in the catalog to the recent Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit Americans in Paris 1860-1900, Moreau even had some contact with American artists studying in Paris, who then brought back home what they saw and learned. Moreau’s contribution to Symbolism itself helped make it a worldwide movement in the second half of the 19th century.

If I ever get back to Paris, the Musee Gustave Moreau is on my list of the many great single-artist museums to visit (along with those for Picasso and Delacroix). As if I could ever have enough time to see everything I wanted to see in Paris.

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