Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Salon des Refusés

The Palais de l'Industrie
The Salon des Refusés (Exhibition of Rejects) was held in this building in Paris in 1863.

Among the works exhibited was "The White Girl" by James McNeill Whistler. The painting had previously been rejected by both of the more prestigious venues, the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon. 

Other artists who exhibited in Salon des Refusés included Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and Johan Jongkind.

There's a related story in the news today. Anonymous-English-graffiti-artist Banksy, using the pseudonym Bryan S Gaakman, entered an Brexit-themed piece in this year's Royal Academy. It was rejected. When the show coordinator contacted Banksy about entering the exhibition, he resubmitted a revised version of the rejected work under the Banksy name. This time it was accepted, and it's hanging there now.


Rich said...

Why should they have rejected this beautifully painted "White Girl" by Whistler?

On the other hand, quite a few of those admitted "non-reject" painters have fallen into oblivion.

A pro pos Whistler - just remembered the following anecdote:
He was walking along a riverside with an admirer, what nowadays one would call a "fan" of his, who exclaimed: "Look at the marvellous hazy river-atmosphere here; looks like one of your paintings!"
Whistler replied: "Well, seems Nature is figuering out my tricks."

Luca said...

Rich, that's totally true but art is subject to trends. In the age of "academic" art, the impressionists were a rupture force against established system, breaking old rules (something like beat, punk, metal and grunge did in different times in music, more or less). So, at the beginning they were logically refused, and that was their intent, i suspect (since they actually know "the rules" and were perfectly able to use them). With time academic art went into oblivion and modern art became the new established system (and i'm not sure this was part of the plan) that went on breaking rules after rules, until it generated that abominion called contemporary art...

Drake Gomez said...

This is fascinating--I don't think I've ever seen a photo of the building where the Salon des Refuses was held. Then again, the picture I had in my mind was not too far from the real thing, I suppose. John Canaday's description of the Salon des Refuses in his (long out-of-print) book Mainstreams of Modern Art is the best account I've ever read, but I haven't read Ross King's Judgment of Paris, which I imagine is good, too.

Bill Marshall said...

Well said, Luca.

James, we all enjoy your blog so much, but I have to ask (provoked with today's entry) would you consider showing your "failures" (if any) here? We all have them, but in the realm of the web, it is overwhelmingly tempting to show only the good stuff. At times, showing the rejects of such an accomplished artist as you can give just as much inspiration as the beautifully finished works.


Richard said...

By a strange coincidence the same year as the Salon De Refuses in France there was a revolt of the "wanderers" from the Russian Academy. The Russian Academy at the time was teaching neoclassic style. (i.e. David, etc). The Wanderers (e.g. Repin, etc) were considered "realists".


Rich said...

Yes, very well pointed out, Luca.

James Gurney said...

Luca, I like the term "rupture force," and there's something inherently appealing about rebels--no wonder the press raved and the lines were so long to get into the Salon de Refuses. It's ironic how today such ideas are thoroughly institutionalized and conventional, so that college students in art classes create recontextualized objects and readymades a la Duchamp, not realizing that the ideas are over a century old and no longer contain the edge they once had.

Richard, yes, in Russia, the rebels were the realists and it was Neoclassicism they were objecting to.

Bill, I suppose you're talking about two different things: ideas that are failures or that die somewhere along the creative process vs. paintings of my own that were rejected by some outside authority. I think I've shared quite a few unused sketches and reworked paintings (and I've shared plenty of paintings that were below par). As for rejected things, I just take that as a part of the game when you enter something. Juries are by necessity subjective, and I can accept that.

Rich, great anecdote about Whistler. He was the master of spin. Even the nerve of calling his painting of his mother an arrangement in grey and black is a good thing.

There's a related story in the news today: Banksy entered an anti-Brexit piece in the Royal Academy under a pseudonym. It was rejected. When they found it out it was by Banksy, he resubmitted it and put a gigantic price on it. Here's the news piece:

James Gurney said...

This might be a better article about the Banksy story:

With any work rejected by a jury, one can come away with either of two conclusions: The jury was unfair, or the work was undeserving. People have been coming to both conclusions about the Bansky work.