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Art Diary

Félix Fénéon: The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde – From Signac to Matisse and Beyond

21 August 2020

While some museums remain shuttered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Apollo’s usual weekly pick of exhibitions will include shows at institutions that are now reopening as well as digital projects providing virtual access to art and culture.

The Museum of Modern Art reopens on 27 August with a display that takes an oblique look at the early years of European modernism, through the lens of the French critic and dealer Félix Fénéon (1861–1944). Fénéon stayed largely out of the public eye during his lifetime, but he operated at the cutting edge of the European avant-garde throughout his career. As a critic, he was one of the earliest and most significant champions of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac in the 1880s; as director of the Galerie Bernheim-Jeunes, he played an important role in the careers of Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard, and organised the first exhibition of the Italian Futurists in Paris in 1912. With around 130 paintings, drawings and sculptures, the display (until 2 January 2021) looks at each facet of his varied career, including his major contribution to the recognition of non-Western art in Europe. Find out more from MoMA’s website – and for more on Fénéon’s engagements with African art, read Samuel Reilly’s article from the July/August 2019 issue of Apollo here.

Preview below | View Apollo’s Art Diary here

Study for A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (1884), Georges Seurat.

Study for A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (1884), Georges Seurat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Interior with a Young Girl (Girl Reading) (1905–06), Henri Matisse.

Interior with a Young Girl (Girl Reading) (1905–06), Henri Matisse. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Paige Knight; © 2019 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Revolt (c. 1911), Luigi Russolo.

The Revolt (c. 1911), Luigi Russolo. Kunstmuseum Den Haag

Loom pulley (19th/early 20th century), Guro, Ivory Coast. Musée Barbier-Mueller, Geneva.

Loom pulley (19th/early 20th century), Guro, Ivory Coast. Musée Barbier-Mueller, Geneva. Photo: Studio Ferrazini-Bouchet.

Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon in 1890 (1890), Paul Signac. Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon in 1890 (1890), Paul Signac. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Paige Knight. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris