Monday, October 31, 2011

"Bohemia is the first stage in artistic life"

With these words French author Henri Murger characterised the phenomenon in his 1851 novel Scènes de la Vie de Bohème: as a transitional stage which provokes and fascinates by a way of living that contravenes the norm. The image of the artist as an outsider who lived in romantic poverty in the bourgeois age came to be viewed through rose-tinted glasses and elevated to undying popularity by Puccini's opera based on Murger's original text. That Bohemia became synonymous with the 19th century artist who was at the mercy of an anonymous market and compelled to hawk his skills in order to survive. Right in the middle of the period when the legend of Bohemia grew to bolster the artist's feelings of self-assurance came the invention of photography. Just how strong this colourful approach to life was among the authors, painters and even the photographers themselves is reflected by photographic mises en scène, which will be featured in this exhibition at Museum Ludwig.

Gustave Courbet

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