The French art fair: evolution and impact

The word salon has its own history and was even used to indicate several different things in France during this period, including an elite social gathering often led by a woman, a large reception hall or an art exhibition academic.

The word began to appear with regularity in France in the 17th century. According to Steven Kale French fairs, the Marquise de Rambouillet (1588-1665) designed the social salon “like the architectural framework of a new sociability”. As is typical of French social conventions of the time, the structure of the social lounge is fascinating and practically an art form in itself.

Although this type of salon is not the subject of this article, the unique social and ideological mobility fostered by the social salon is worth mentioning, if only to offer the reader a better look at the society in which the relatively restrictive art salon operated.

The first well-known academic fair was the Paris Salon (also Salon or Salon de Paris), held in 1667. Started by France Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture– which itself was created in 1648 – and sponsored by the absolute monarchy of France, it featured work by graduates of the academy.

The initial objective of the event was to highlight the success of the students of the Academy. The exhibition had a huge impact and became the very first annual or biannual exhibition in the Western art world. Even so, it was not known as the Salon de Paris until after 1725, when it was held in the Salon Carré, a room in the Louvre.

The Salon also gave birth to art criticism. Writers like Denis Diderot (1713-1784) and Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) made a name for themselves by writing sometimes scathing reviews of the exhibitions.

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