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Book cover of Pont-Aven School, Cradle of the Modern Sensibility, featuring an oil portrait of woman looking over shoulder, titled Painting de Madame Schuffenecker, by Emile Bernard. Published by 5 Continents Editions.

Pont-Aven School

Cradle of the Modern Sensibility

Text by Jean-Marie Rouart
Text by Estelle Guille des Buttes
Text by Adrien Goetz


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  • Pont-Aven has lent its name to one of the most famous schools of painting in modern art
  • This new book reveals to a wider public the important collection that Alexandre Mouradian amassed in only a few years
Full Description

Pont-Aven has lent its name to one of the most famous schools of painting in modern art and is now automatically associated with Paul Gauguin and Émile Bernard. In 1888, in this Breton village in southern Finistère, the two painters set about inventing the features of a completely new style of painting: Synthetism. Breaking with academic orthodoxy and heavily influenced by Japanese prints, they introduced novel aesthetic principles distinguished especially by a belief in simple forms and the use of colour applied in large patches edged by a dark line. This approach further distanced itself from the art that preceded it in its taste for matt tones and the rejection of traditional perspective. This new book reveals to a wider public the important collection that Alexandre Mouradian amassed in only a few years. The collection reflects its creator’s great passion for the artists of the Pont-Aven group, as well as others in Brittany and beyond who embraced the new ideas of Bernard and Gauguin without ever losing their individuality. Whether in painting or printmaking, each of these was able to move beyond the imitation of observed reality to express the deepest aspect of his personality: his emotions. The works selected by the collector eloquently show the international reach of what was not strictly speaking a school, in the full sense of the term. Since the private Paris academies were closed during the summer, artists from all over Europe went to Pont-Aven and Le Pouldu to seek inspiration and ‘to dare’ like Gauguin. Written contributions by Jean-Marie Rouart of the French Academy and the author and art historian Adrien Goetz, are supported by detailed notes on the works by the museum curator Estelle Guille des Buttes, providing invaluable insights into this exceptional collection.

About the Author

Estelle Guille des Buttes obtained her diploma from the Institut National du Patrimoine in Paris and is Chief Curator of Pont-Aven Museum, which she has run since 2006, overseeing its extension and restoration. She has organised several exhibitions, including Maurice Denis et la Bretagne in 2009, earmarked by the Ministry of Culture as being of national interest, and in 2017 La Modernité en Bretagne. Estelle Guille des Buttes is also the author of numerous articles and other publications on the Pont-Aven school. She has been granted the title of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres. Adrien Goetz is a member of the Institute (Academy of Fine Arts), a former student of the école Normale Supérieure, and holds an agrégation in History and a PhD in the History of Art. At present, he teaches History of Art at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He has a special interest in the art of the nineteenth century. Adrien Goetz also writes novels, which are set in an art world or museum context. He is Chief Editor of Grande Galerie. Le Journal du Louvre, the museum's official magazine. He writes a column for Le Figaro every Monday titled 'Les Arts'. Jean-Marie Rouart was born at Neuilly-sur-Seine on 9 April 1943 into a family of painters. He is a writer and journalist and published his first novel, La Fuite en Pologne, in 1974. His novel Avant-guerre won the Prix Renaudot in 1983. His other novels include Le cavalier blessé, 1987; La femme de proie, 1989; Le voleur de jeunesse, 1990; Le goût du malheur, 1993; L'invention de l'amour, 1997. Jean-Marie Rouart has also pursued a parallel career in journalism, firstly at Magazine littéraire, then at Le Figaro and Quotidien de Paris, where he edited the literary section. Following his period as editor of Figaro littéraire, from 1986 to 2003, he started writing for Paris Match.

5 Continents Editions
1st Jan 2019
World excluding Italy & France
286 mm x 248 mm
80 Pages
28 color
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