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
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: enPublished: Dec. 22, 2020