Félix Fénéon: The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde
The story of French impresario, dandy and anarchist Félix Fénéon's extraordinary influence on early modernism
"It would not be a commonplace portrait at all, but a carefully composed picture, with very carefully arranged colors and lines. A rhythmic and angular pose. A decorative Félix, entering with his hat or a flower in his hand." With these words, in 1890, Paul Signac described to Félix Fénéon the extraordinary portrait he was dedicating to him. In it, Signac paid homage to Fénéon's distinctive appearance, his generous but enigmatic personality and his innovative approach to modernism.Signac's portrait spotlights a figure who often chose to remain behind the scenes. But Fénéon's impact--as a writer, dealer, publisher, curator, collector and anarchist--was tremendous. Fénéon helped define the movement known as neoimpressionism, a term he himself coined in the 1880s; he helped launch the careers of Seurat, Signac, Bonnard, Matisse and Modigliani; he was the first editor of the work of Rimbaud and Lautréamont; and he was active in anarchist circles, notoriously so in 1894, following the bombing of a restaurant popular among politicians and financiers, for which he was arrested and acquitted. Félix Fénéon: The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde accompanies the first exhibition tracing Fénéon's extraordinary, unsung impact on the development of early modernism, a major international event. The publication traces Fénéon's career through a selection of major works that Fénéon admired, championed and collected, alongside contemporary letters, documents and photographs, and offers a long-overdue celebration of this singular, catalytic figure in art history. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in an age of revolutionary change, French polymath Félix Fénéon (1861-1944) was at the center of Paris' literary, artistic and anarchist circles. His Novels in Three Lines was translated by Luc Sante and published in 2007.
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[Fénéon] was from the first an enigma, and the enigma only deepens when we consider that this art critic, literary editor, prose writer of distinction, and successful promoter of avant-garde artists at an important Parisian gallery was also an anarchist who almost certainly planted a bomb that was mean to kill people.--Jed Perl "New York Review of Books"