Cover image for Public Access to Art in Paris: A Documentary History from the Middle Ages to 1800 By Robert W. Berger

Public Access to Art in Paris

A Documentary History from the Middle Ages to 1800

Robert W. Berger

BUY

312 pages
8.5" × 11"
65 b&w illustrations
1999

Public Access to Art in Paris

A Documentary History from the Middle Ages to 1800

Robert W. Berger

“This is a good book. It supplements the famous documentary histories by Elizabeth Holt while focusing on a city which was, as the author argues, the site of many innovations with respect to the display and public consumption of art in the pre-modern period. The translations are sound and the writing is clear.”

 

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Public Access to Art in Paris explores public accessibility to art (mainly painting and sculpture) on exhibit in Paris from the High Middle Ages to the year 1800. The topic is important, because from such displays emerged the familiar institutions and practices of the modern world: public museums and sculpture gardens, exhibitions of contemporary art, and popular art journalism. This book traces the origins and development of these familiar components in the city of Paris, where Robert Berger believes all the crucial elements first appeared together. The documentary format offers the reader an extensive array of source writings, many translated for the first time.

This book focuses on the settings where art objects were on view to a general public, whether these objects were monumental carvings permanently affixed to church façades, or small cabinet paintings temporarily displayed at an exhibition. Berger is interested in how the visual arts were made available to a public that, by and large, did not commission art, did not purchase or collect it, and was not concerned with it in a scholarly or intellectual sense, but, like the public of today, approached art as pleasurable entertainment or distraction. During the eighteenth century in Paris, this public came to be recognized as a force influencing the display of art and its critical reception. Public Access to Art in Paris both documents how this decisive shift in culture occurred and offers a panorama of artistic life in Paris over seven centuries.

“This is a good book. It supplements the famous documentary histories by Elizabeth Holt while focusing on a city which was, as the author argues, the site of many innovations with respect to the display and public consumption of art in the pre-modern period. The translations are sound and the writing is clear.”

Robert W. Berger is the author of Antoine Le Pautre: A French Architect of the Era of Louis XIV (1969), Versailles: The Chateau of Louis XIV (Penn State Press, 1985), In the Garden of the Sun King: Studies on the Park of Versailles Under Louis XIV (1985), The Palace of the Sun: The Louvre of Louis XIV (Penn State, 1993) and A Royal Passion: Louis XIV as Patron of Architecture (1994).

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