Welcome to the Salon de Refusés!
Historically and traditionally, the term Salon de Refusés refers to the official art exhibitions organised by the French Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture) and its successor the Académie des Beaux Arts (Academy of Fine Arts). Then, from 1725 the exhibitions were held in the room called the Salon Carré in the Louvre and became known simply as the Salon. This later gave rise to the generic French term of ‘salon’ for any large mixed art exhibition. By the mid nineteenth century the academies had become highly conservative, and by their monopoly of major exhibitions resisted the rising tide of innovation in Naturalism, Realism, Impressionism and their successors.
By about 1860 the number of artists being excluded from the official Salon became so great that in 1863 the government was forced to set up an alternative, to accommodate the refused artists.
This alternative became known as the “Salon de Refusés“.
The show’s major paintings included works by Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926), Camille Pissarro (French, 1830-1903), and James A. M. Whistler (American, 1834-1903).
Three further Salons de Refusés were held in 1874, 1875 and 1886.
That’s the history of the term Salon de Refusés.
Today, in the year 2017, my intention is to use the technology of this website to showcase the works of contemporary artists who are also alternative and pioneering in their work.
Today, these artists are no longer restricted to France or America, as they were in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but have a more global presence. For example, this website features artist Saki Mafundikwa from Zimbabwe as well as the Bushwomen of Bostwana. Moreover, my former Harvard classmate, artist Janet Echelman, although an American, found her inspiration for her artwork in India.
The substantial pioneering spirit of artistic exploration and openness that was embodied in the original Salon de Refusés of the mid-nineteenth century, still exists today. The art forms of today may be different and vary but the substance of innovation remains sustainable and endures.
Karim Ajania, founder and editor
Salon de Refusés