In 1900, artistic life continued to be dominated by the Salon, an annual event that defined an official art form.
Numerous painters devoted themselves to portraits and painted the pictures of Parisian figures (Giron) and icons of the century (Clairin).
The Universal Exposition confirmed two artistic trends which appeared in the mid-1870’s and early 1880’s: impressionism and symbolism. On the fringe of these two trends, Gustave Doré, better known as an illustrator, was a tremendous historical painter.
Painted by Cézanne, Bonnard and Renoir, the dealer Ambroise Vollard played a decisive role in the recognition of avant-garde art.
1900 was the high point of the Third Republic’s taste for public statuary. Alongside this, sculptors found new areas for experimentation. Maillol and Renoir rediscovered antiquity, while Carriès and Cros, unique creators fascinated by colour, erased the usual borders between the major arts and minor arts. Rodin occupied a prominent place in end-of-the-century sculpture. He explored all the expressive possibilities of sculpture and reinvented his relationship with architecture and the monument. Several of his pupils, such as Bourdelle and Camille Claudel, managed to free themselves of the master’s influence and produce original works.
The 1900 period saw the triumph of Art Nouveau.
The art object was increasingly accepted by the Salons and took on a new dignity. Faced with the exhaustion of the historical styles, great artists found a new source of inspiration in nature. In Nancy and Paris, the glass artist Emile Gallé, the architect Hector Guimard, and the jewellers Lalique and Fouquet revived the arts of adornment and decoration.
Between tradition and modernity, paintings, sculptures and art objects summed up the taste of an era.