The Art and Spirit of Paris

(two volumes, slipcased)

By Michel Laclotte

Release Date
Format Slipcased 1654 pages 11 x 13 inches 1,500 illustrations, 1,157 in full color
Category Art History
ISBN-13 978-1-55859-760-0 SKU 21142

A dazzling successor to Abbeville's The Art of Florence, this two-volume tour de force sweeps through the entire history of the arts in Paris, from the Stone Age to the pyramid at the Louvre.

All the arts—painting, sculpture, architecture, urban design, interior design, graphic design, photography, film, fashion, the theater, and opera—have played a role in creating the enduring spirit of Paris. From a primitive village huddled on an island in the middle of the Seine, Paris rose to glory as a medieval and Renaissance center for art, as the cradle of the Enlightenment, and as the crucible of modern art and architecture. It remains a world center of innovation in art, architecture, and design, and one of the most thoroughly pleasurable of all modern cities.

Assembled under the editorial direction of Michel Laclotte, former director of the Musée du Louvre, and with the participation of outstanding scholars on both sides of the Atlantic, The Art and Spirit of Paris spans more than 6,000 years of cultural history. In two volumes, comprising nine insightful and wide-ranging chapters, and with approximately 1,500 illustrations, the authors chronicle the history of the visual arts in Paris, tracing their evolution and that of the social systems that supported them.

Volume I introduces the Gallo-Roman settlement described by Caesar and unearthed by modern archeologists, literally the foundation of modern Paris. From these beginnings, chapter 2 takes the reader through the dark period of the early Middle Ages, when Paris was ravaged by Norsemen, through the long process of rebuilding that led to the flowering of the Gothic and the remarkable masterworks of architecture and stained glass, Notre-Dame-de-Paris and the Sainte-Chapelle. The Renaissance city and the center of the Enlightenment are the subjects of chapters 3 and 4, illustrated by the masterpieces of painting and the decorative arts that established Paris, by the eighteenth century, as the Western world's center of the arts.

Volume II begins at 1800, as Napoleon consolidates his power and resolves to make Paris the most beautiful city the world has seen. Chapter 5 treats his brief era, which would echo in the French imagination for decades after, and which begins the reign of Paris as "Capital of the Nineteenth Century." The battles of classicism and romanticism and the advent of a modern "engineer's architecture" of glass and iron are followed in chapter 6 by the glorious Ville Lumière of Second Empire Paris, with its remarkable world's fairs. It treats as well the aftermath of the Commune, when a "New Painting" would be invented by the most beloved artists of the French tradition, including Manet, Renoir, Monet, and Cézanne. Chapter 7 brings us to fin de siècle Paris, the Belle Epoque, and the run-up to World War I, when a remarkable coterie of artists, including Picasso, invent an art for the new century. Chapter 8 examines the period between the wars, an era of refinement and consolidation in the arts, and chapter 9 brings the story of Paris up to the present, examining the remarkable ways Paris has yet again remade herself, as a city of spectacle and guardian of her remarkable past, while remaining a vital center of fashion, theater, and the visual arts.

A lavish selection of photographs, most reproduced in color, complements the lively, informative texts with a revealing mixture of much-loved masterpieces and little-known discoveries. Completing these luxurious volumes are nine photographic portfolios, featuring classic black-and-white pictures, reproduced in duotone, by such masters as Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, and André Kertesz, which capture the spirit of Paris in visual essays on such subjects as the Seine, Paris by night, shops and cafés, and the city's streets and boulevards.

About the authors: Michel Laclotte, former chief curator of paintings and retired president-director, Musée du Louvre, Paris; Venceslas Kruta, professor, Sorbonne; Alain Erlande-Brandenburg, former director, Musée de Cluny and Archives Nationales; Claude Mignot, professor, Université de Tours; John Goodman, independent scholar, New York; Christopher Lyon, executive editor, Abbeville Press; Michael Marrinan, professor, Stanford University; Gary Tinterow, curator, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Andrew Carrington Shelton, assistant professor, Department of History of Art, Ohio State University; Jeffrey Weiss, curator, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Malcolm Gee, professor, University of Northumbria, Newcastle, England; Françoise Levaillant, director, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris.

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