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The ‘Unknown Arts’ of Ancient America: Challenging Classical Art Canons in Nineteenth-Century France

The Reception of Pre-Columbian Art before the Primitivist and Surrealist Avant-Gardes

Susana Stüssi Garcia    Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France    



Pre-Columbian artefacts have been collected and exhibited in Europe since the 16th century. For a long time, they were considered exotic curiosities, ‘grotesque’ attempts at art by inferior peoples. This was a judgement stemming from a Eurocentric definition of art and, during the 19th century, indissociable from colonial and imperialist ideology. We present some views held in scholarly circles about pre-Columbian art in nineteenth-century France and focus on two artists, Jean Frédéric de Waldeck (1766-1875) and Emile Soldi (1846-1906), who drew from contemporary ethnographic and archaeological research, and pre-Columbian history to challenge the limits of academicism and the Beaux-Arts system.

keywords: Pre-Columbian art. Art history and ethnography. Artistic reception. Nineteenth-century France. Pre-Columbian collections. History of collections. Non-European art exhibitions. Academicism.

Language: en

Published: Dec. 22, 2020
permalink: http://doi.org/10.30687/978-88-6969-462-2/001

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License