Félix Vallotton

Royal Academy of Arts. Aug. 2019. 184p. ISBN 9781912520046. $45. FINE ARTS
This book accompanies an exhibition of the same name at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. At age 16, artist Félix Vallotton (1865–1925) emigrated from Switzerland to France, where he contributed satirical illustrations to anarchist and other publications, and then became a part of the avant-garde circles of fin de siècle Paris, exhibiting and selling his work. A member of the symbolist group called the Nabis, which included artists Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, Vallotton possessed a style and drew on subject matter very different from that of his peers. While using flat planes of color in his paintings and simplified, layered black-and-white silhouettes in his woodcut prints, he employed an acerbic wit to critique the social climate of the day. Clearly written essays by Buttner (Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland) and other curators and art historians address themes such as the innovation and originality in Vallotton’s printmaking techniques and subjects, the attention given to him by English and American art publications, and his work’s narrative tension.
VERDICT Highly recommended for informed readers who would like an introduction to this lesser-known artist.

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