AH/FP 315 - From Impressionism to Surrealism: How Japan, Africa and Islam Influenced Major 19th and 20th Century French Art Movements

“If, on a sunny morning at the beginning of the century, Matisse hadn’t stopped in front of an antique shop on Rue de Rennes and admired a few statues of African art, one of the most important pictorial revolutions of the 20th century, and of art history as a whole, would never have happened.”

When considering the history of modern art, the question of its origins is often neglected. However, it is indeed possible to distinguish certain sources of influence in order to reveal some of the essential moments that brought art into modernity.

From the end of the 19th century, artists hoped to grasp modernity by freeing themselves from the traditional model of representation. This model was based Greek statues, in which the ultimate goal was imitation. To break with the secular, western tradition, and in order to renew their formal language, these artists looked for inspiration outside of the traditional framework: Japanese prints, African art, and Islamic decorative arts, which would all become models of reference and sources of major inspiration for artistic rebirth through the 1920s.

Course Information


Art History
Francophone Studies

Term(s) Offered:




Language of instruction:


Contact Hours:




Browsing Courses?

To keep track of the courses, programs, blogs, destinations, and news that you're interested in, create an account and start favoriting. Already have an account? Log in.

Create an Account