Fauve Painting: The Making of Cultural Politics - James D. HerbertNew Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1992, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Occasional light pencil marginalia, easily erased. Security sticker to the rear pastedown not so easily removed.
Contains: Black & white photographs; Colour photographs;
From the cover: “In this provocative new account of Fauvism, James D. Herbert explores how the paintings of Henri Matisse, Andre Derain and Maurice Vlaminck engaged many of the pressing issues of their day, and simultaneously camouflaged that engagement. Fauve pictures depicted the landscape in a manner that facilitated the cultural expansion of sophisticated Parisians into the suburbs as residents and into the south of France and overseas as tourists. Matisse’s nudes attributed gendered roles to viewer and viewed, and later, at the close of the Fauve period, participated in the formulation of the colonial account of Africa. By combining the grande tradition of classical painting and the more recent legacy of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, Fauve paintings fused tradition and innovation to produce an image of a national culture ostensibly unified, eternal and naturally French. In short, Herbert contends that these pictures made politics from culture.
Herbert’s major contribution to our understanding of Fauve painting, however, lies in his examination of how the myth of die Fauves’ artistic simplicity — cultivated by critics at the time as well as by art historians since — informed these political engagements. The manner of painting that came to be known as Fauve style constituted a new form of naturalism based on tactile rather than visual correspondences between pictures and depicted objects. As naturalist pictures, Fauve canvases affected to find (not make) the scenes they portrayed, and to treat their themes as simple artistic discoveries. Fauve painting thereby presented its formulations about land, about gender, about the colonies and about the national heritage as self-evident truths above the contingencies of politics and beyond the vagaries of history. The dissimulation of politics as art in this manner, Herbert’s book proposes, may be a primary political function of the aesthetic of modern painting — a function often replicated rather than explicated by the discipline of art history.
Herbert’s rigorous examination of a handful of Fauve paintings leads him to a broad-ranging investigation of a great number of related contemporary artefacts including polemical political tracts and contentious art-critical writings, tourist postcards and photographs of nudes, travel guidebooks and ethnographic treatises. The book will interest not only art historians and cultural historians of the period, but also scholars involved in the investigation of the politics of representation.”