The Paris Fine Art Salon exhibition runs in the Forum until 22 November.

The Forum hosts exhibition on The Paris Fine Art Salon

A striking new exhibition focused on the Paris Fine Art Salon is now on display in the Forum at the University of Exeter. Curated by Dr Alister Mill, the exhibition draws on research undertaken by staff and researchers in the Modern Languages department as part of the College of Humanities’ Visual Culture initiative.

For much of the previous two centuries, the Salon was the most important exhibition of contemporary art in Europe. From the 1830s it was held annually and by the 1840s each exhibition showcased over 2000 works. The display focuses mainly on the Salon in the final two decades of its tenure in the Louvre, where it was held until the 1848 Revolution. The structure is around ten sub-themes, among them the jury system, the location of the Salon galleries and their environs, the implications of state control, and the impact of alternative exhibitions in Paris and the provinces.

The exhibition was conceived specifically for the Forum space by London-based Aaron Jones Design, which designs exhibitions for institutions such as the National Gallery, the British Museum and the Museum of London. Graphic design for the project comes from Jackie Baines Studio, which specialises in museum and exhibition interpretation. Dr Mill comments, “when I toured the Forum with the designers earlier this year, they were struck by the varied viewpoints offered by the space.” He adds, “we were very conscious of how the Forum space is used. People pass through it several times a day, usually en route somewhere else so we conceived the exhibition to be enjoyable in bite-sized chunks, and in no particular order. There’s a bit more content than is normal in a museum environment because it doesn’t all have to be digested in a single sitting.”

The exhibition is based on research undertaken for the AHRC-funded project Painting for the Salon? The French State, Artists and Academy, 1830-1852. The project is headed by Professor James Kearns in conjunction with Dr Mill and Dr Harriet Griffiths and aims to study the Salon as a network of relationships bringing together government policy, administrative structures and artistic and cultural practices. Dr Mill concludes, “I think the exhibition format is a superb way of communicating university-level research more widely and I like to think we’re establishing a model here at Exeter for presenting research findings in a publicly-focused way that’s both engaging and visually striking.”

The Paris Fine Art Salon exhibition is on display in the Forum until 22 November and admission is free of charge. For further details on the exhibition visit the Arts and Culture webpages.

Date: 3 October 2013

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