France Arts and Literature

By | October 5, 2021


Even more precise reflections of contemporary cultural renewal can be felt in the various currents of criticism. As regards the mentioned influence exerted by the human sciences (and by the structuralist method that derives from it), think of the paradigmatic function of authors such as the ethnologist C. Lévi-Strauss (b.1908), the psychoanalyst J. Lacan (1901). -81), the philosophers M. Foucault (1926-84) and L. Althusser (1918-90). If the existentialist lesson of Sartre and G. Bachelard (1884-1962) remained valid for scholars such as G. Poulet (1902-91) and J.-P. Richard (n. 1922), the “school” of structuralism conditioned the subsequent and original critical tendencies to varying degrees: by way of example, the names of L. Goldmann (1913-70), R. Barthes (1915-80), J. Starobinski (b. 1920) and the critics gathered around the magazine Communications (Brémond, Genette), engaged in probing the extreme possibilities of language. In poetry, the Manifeste froid (1973) by J.-C. Bailly, Y. Buni, S. Sautreau and A. Velter, aimed to render current events with cold realism, while in prose the Littérature au magnétophone he presented talks with famous authors, carried out by an interviewer responsible for the literary form and presentation through a pre- or afterword. Among the contemporary critics we remember M. Houellebecq (b. 1956). Among the political writers, the post-Marxist “new philosophers” emerged who reexamined the concepts of the state in the light of other philosophical systems: Nietzschianism, with G. Deleuze (1925-95), J.-F. Lyotard (1924-98); Situationism, with J. Baudrillard (b.1929), and especially Rousseauism, with J.-P. Dollé (b.1939), A. Glucksman (b.1937) and B.-H. Lévy (no. 1948). The great philosophical and historical currents that have produced essayists-writers now accessible to the general public must now be linked to the literary life of the country. In the field of philosophy, should be mentioned J. Derrida (n. 1930), P. Ricoeur (n. 1913), G. Deleuze (1925-95), E. Levinas (1905-95), J. Baudrillard (n. 1929). Among historians, a particular notoriety has reached G. Duby (1919-96) and J. Le Goff (b. 1924).


In painting, two schools led, starting from the mid-fourteenth century, to the international Gothic style. In Avignon, where the popes had introduced Sienese art (Simone Martini was active there between 1339 and 1344, Matteo Giovannettibetween 1343 and 1353), an Italianizing school was formedwhich had European consequences, from Catalonia to Bohemia. The influence of the Netherlands, to the point that there is talk of a Franco-Flemish school. It was actually the industriousness of Flemish artists in France, who brought the achievements of a superior artistic civilization. Among them we remember the painters M. Broederlam, J. Malouel, H. Bellechose; the sculptor Claus Sluter, author of the Prophets the Chartreuse of Champmol and the funeral cortege of the Dijon Museum, works of great dramatic realism; the illuminators Jacquemart de Hesdin, author of the Petites Heures de Jean de Berry (1390) and the Très Belles Heures de Notre-Dame(1409), André Beauneveu, author of the Psalter of Jean de Berry (1380-85), and above all the brothers de Limbourg, with whom not only French miniature reached an unparalleled apex, but European painting marked a very important stage in its development. The images of the masterpiece of the de Limbourg family, the Très Riches Heures de Jean de Berry (Chantilly, Condé Museum), show in the open horizons and in the depth of the landscape the first assimilation in France of the Italian lesson. International Gothic, like the previous one, was also reflected in all the decorative arts, invading the field of wood and stone carving, wrought and wrought iron, goldsmithing. Very important in the international culture was the production of tapestries, which matured at the end of the fourteenth century. There is little news of this specialty during the century. XIV, and to have a testimony it is necessary to arrive at the so-called vestment of the Apocalypse, already in the treasury of the cathedral of Angers and now in the Musée des Tapisseries. This very famous work, of enormous dimensions (a roll of over 5 m in height by 150 in length), illustrates the events of the Apocalypse of San Giovanni, alternated with panels depicting the bishops of the seven churches of Asia. Made for Louis I of Anjou by Nicolas Bataille (c. 1380) in order to decorate the rooms and the chapel of the castle of Angers, it is of a bright and lively style and presupposes a long preceding tradition. The developments of Flemish painting from gothic-international decorativism to the new humanism of J. van Eyck they had a profound echo in France and gradually local autonomous schools spread, dominated by artists who were able to mediate Flemish influences with French tradition and knowledge of Italian art. The major centers of the new fifteenth-century painting were Provence (Master of the Annunciation of Aix, Master of the Pietà d’Avignon, Enguerrand Charonton, Nicolas Froment), Amiens and Valenciennes in Picardy, more linked to Flanders (S. Marmion, J. Bellegambe) and the Loire valley, where the court was established (J. Fouquet, J. Bourdichon, Master of Moulins).

France Arts and Literature