AH 314 - French 19th and 20th Century Art

In the 19th century, France occupies a central place in the artistic world. Numerous artists from all over the world came to Paris to experience artistic modernity and to seek artistic consecration. In this context, art in the 19th century evolves very quickly and undergoes major changes.

Art is more political than ever: on the one hand the modern states put it at their services and lay the foundations of propaganda, on the other hand appears a protest art with artists who oppose - sometimes at the risk of their lives - the power in place. If the artists can move away from the power, it is that their sponsors change. The development of the art market and of private commissions partly liberated artists from official programs. Within this framework appears the figure of the bohemian or romantic artist, misunderstood individual who lives in the margin of the society. This image of the artist - which rarely corresponds to reality - marks for a long time our representation of the art world. Especially since the artists of the XIXth century also invented new media techniques to make speak about them: the scandal, the provocation, the shock, etc. the artists understand that it is more important to make speak about itself than to be simply appreciated.

This new position of the artist must be placed in a world in full upheaval. The industrial age changes the face of the planet, from the railroad to electricity, machines, tools and techniques upset the relationship of the artists to the world. While the industrial society and modern capitalism are imposed, the Western empires leave to conquer the world. Human relations also change profoundly, marked in turn by feminist demands, the abolition of slavery and at the same time the development of colonialism and a "scientific" racism. The arts allow us to understand the complexity of this modern world that is being put in place, between faith in a progress considered emancipatory and a critical look at the violence of a divided and unequal society.

Course Information


Art History

Term(s) Offered:




Language of instruction:


Contact Hours:




The World is Your Classroom

Take courses at our Centers abroad, directly enroll at a local partner university, or build a schedule with courses from both. Use the Course Finder to explore all the courses offered at our IES Abroad Centers. Additional course options at prestigious local universities are available on the program page and partner university websites.

Browse Our Courses