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1900: Art at the Crossroads Hardcover – May 1, 2000

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At the turn of the last century, academic painters were producing formal works, often with strongly moral overtones, at the same time that a generation of younger artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Kandinsky were exploring revolutionary new methods and ideas. By presenting the range of styles vying for attention at a single point in time, the authors of 1900: Art at the Crossroads challenge the idea of art as a linear progression. The book is the lavish catalog of an exhibition organized by the Royal Academy of London and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Its schizophrenic theme is suggested in the title of the first essay, "Art in 1900: Twilight or Dawn?" The material is organized into concepts established by the French Academy two centuries earlier--still life, the nude, landscapes, and history paintings--plus sections with more modern relevance such as cityscapes and bathers. Arranging works by theme rather than by artist or movement allows for some brilliant juxtapositions: a classical naked Danae by Carolus-Duran is paired with an abstracted Degas nude; a sentimental study of crippled boys by Bastida with a vicious Munch mother-and-child (both paintings titled Inheritance). The preoccupations of fin-de-siècle society emerge; several different treatments of Salome with the severed head of John the Baptist, for example, embody male fears of the femme fatale and her threat to bourgeois values. The book ends with a useful 70-page section of artist biographies. 1900 is a beautifully produced and stimulating study of a pivotal point in European art history. --John Stevenson

From Library Journal

An exhibition organized by The Royal Academy of Arts, London, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1900: Art at the Crossroads examines the diverse range of artworks produced during this period. While artists such as C?zanne, Degas, Rodin, and Klimt were well known by the turn of the century, lesser-known artists were making art that equally reflected the stylistic and social concerns of this epoch. In his essay, the Guggenheim's Rosenblum explores various related themes that are woven within the paintings and sculpture. These include subjects such as fantasy vs. reality, the representation of women, and the new psychological probity. The Royal Academy's Stevens shows how the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris and the issue of nationalism as well as the genesis of international styles in the art of this period foreshadowed developments and the rest of the 20th century. The catalog portion of this book is illustrated with color plates of all the works in the exhibition and divided by theme, such as the city, landscape, portraits, bathers and nudes, and religion. This handsome volume is recommended for general art collections as well as academic and art libraries.
-Sandra Rothenberg, Framingham State Coll., MA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; 1st edition (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810943034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810943032
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 1.5 x 12.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,094,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Erik Tiemens on May 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book balances the often overpraised work of the impressionists with the reality of the Salon artists (academics) at that time and the rumblings of modernism to come. As a painter, this title is a real treat... it's always been so hard to find examples from this era, that have not been washed away from post 1920's revisionist art history. Accurately reconstructing the exhibits of that era and showing what was on the fringes speaks for itself.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Caldermobile on May 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Robert Rosenblum is a true scholar in the world of art history. Throughout my undergraduate years, I had looked to his writings for guidance and to gain an understanding of the subject matter. While 1900, Art At The Crossroads is enjoyable and the color plates are stunning, it should be noted that it is companion piece to an exhibition and not a book for academic research. Overall, it is a fine book.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert Rosenblum's "1900: Art At The Crossroads" is a gem of a book. This exhibition catalogue contains more than 300 color plates and approximately 200 additional illustrations of paintings and sculpture from a benchmark period in art history. The year nineteen hundred, the beginning of the 20th century, ushered in a period when art was truly at a crossroads. It was, at once, the beginning and the end of an era - the culmination of 19th century art and the beginning of a revolution. Salon artists, the academic realists, Rouault, Sargent, Whistler, and Homer, etc., were at their peak and their work was widely acclaimed. And painters, newly arrived on the scene, from Impressionists, Post-Impressionists to those who had yet to find a label for their work, like Cezanne, Matisse, Mondrian, Picasso, Kandinsky, Klimt and Gaugin, were beginning to discover new methods, new ideas, to express what they saw and felt. They learned from tradition and sought to escape it. These artists would go on to change the way the Western world looked at art

This compilation, the companion volume to a major international exhibit, provides an extraordinary visual history of that period. The quality of the reproductions, especially the color plates, is superb. Work by lesser known artists are displayed here, as well as paintings and sculptures by those whose names we recognize immediately. The book is organized into categories according to subject, i.e., bathers, nudes, self-portraits, still life and landscapes. This method of organization, similar to the concepts established by the French Academy in the 17th century, makes for some fascinating comparisons, i.e., an abstracted Degas nude alongside a classical nude by Carolus-Duran.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steve Henderson on February 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
1900: Art At The Crossroads is certainly a book worthy of any art lover's library. The book itself is substantial: the hundreds of paintings and hundreds of historical photographs are printed on stock the quality of which can be felt immediately. Many of the paintings are reproduced at an adequate size with some filling the page and beyond. The color and sharpness is excellent.

The turn of the century was a very dynamic time in the art world with much work worldwide being produced in a wide variety of styles and mediums. This book captures the essence of the period while giving the reader just enough historical information centered around the World's Fair in Paris. Keep in mind that many of these reproductions are not necessarily the actual paintings exhibited at the Fair but a painting or sculpture of similar subject, style and medium.

Considering the high quality construction of this book it is astounding that it can still be found for such a low, affordable price. I got my copy for under $20 and it shares a shelf with my top favorite art books.

Steve Henderson, stevehendersonfineart.com
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To begin with, the extensive biographical sketches comprise a book in themselves, invaluable to the general reader to whom many of the names will be unfamiliar and useful, as well to the less than expert art history student.
Robert Rosenblum's extensive introduction is up to his usual high standards and provides some feel for the conflicting approaches to art, as traditional approaches vie with a variety of of competitors, at a point in history in which, what many consider to be Modern Art, is being pointed toward, but has not yet been given form (as viewed by the official Museum of Modern Art-NYC conceptualization published in various documents on their re-evaluation before entering their greatly enlarged quarters, something over a decade ago). What gives his essay and the organization of artists in the book its special value is the balanced treatment of the many competing art forms represented in this World's Fair (Exposition) in which the work of many nation's appeared (although French art did predominate by a large margin). Apparently all paintings and sculpture has been included in the book, allowing one to make, at least, minimal judgments as to whether the New Century did see better rather than just different art. To be clear, on the point, however, none of that New Art was represented, only some of the artists who later developed such approaches. Thus we find examples of Mondrian, Matisse and the brilliant young Picasso, among others, still working very much in the style of the 19th Century.
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