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1950/1970 : Triumphant Modernism!

From the end of the Second World War onwards, the new-found freedom became fertile ground for artistic creation. While abstraction and surrealism struggled to find their place, the 1950s in France became the decade of lyrical abstraction (Hartung, Soulage, Mathieu).


In the context of the Cold War, this formal freedom was opposed to the figurative realism advocated by the Communist bloc, as it had previously been by fascist regimes. This painting movement would extend well beyond these years, but would be challenged from the 1960s onwards by New Realism. The latter opposed abstract painting as bourgeois art and advocated of an art closer to the proletarian classes, a



dvocating the use of "vulgar" materials and rejecting classical painting and sculpture techniques (for example, Arman's accumulations or César's compressions).

However, the 1970s saw a return to figuration, with the aim of restoring a critical and political function to representation, using images from everyday life or from the field of social and political protest. Many of these artists of narrative figuration felt that the subversive potential of their works lay more in their aesthetic dimension than in their explicit representation, paving the way for a much more graphic approach to their work (e.g. Peter Klasen, Fromanger).

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