Paul Galvez, "Courbet's Landscapes: The Origins of Modern Painting" (Yale UP, 2022)

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Between 1862 and 1866 Gustave Courbet embarked on a series of sensuous landscape paintings that would later inspire the likes of Monet, Pissarro, and Cézanne. This series has long been neglected in favor of Courbet’s paintings of rural French life. Courbet's Landscapes: The Origins of Modern Painting (Yale UP, 2022) explores these astonishing paintings, staking a claim for their importance to Courbet’s work and later developments in French modernism. Ranging from the grottoes of Courbet’s native Franche-Comté to the beaches of Normandy, Paul Galvez follows the artist on his travels as he uses a palette-knife to transform the Romantic landscape of voyage into a direct, visceral confrontation with the material world.

In this interview, Allison Leigh talks to Dr. Galvez about why he felt we needed another book on Courbet, how he tackled the voluminous scholarship on this artist, and how to make claims about an artist’s intentions from a historical standpoint. Their conversation ranges from how to best use comparisons in art historical argumentation to the difficulties of reproducing some art works—even with high resolution digital photography.

Allison Leigh is Associate Professor of Art History and the SLEMCO/LEQSF Regents Endowed Professor in Art & Architecture at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her research explores masculinity in European and Russian art of the eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries.

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