Back in the day, any artist who wanted to be "recognized" was required to have exhibited in the Salon. The Salon was the official exhibition of artists' work in Paris and exerted great control over artistic expression, mainly accepting works based on traditional subject matter and highly polished technique.
In 1863 the Salon jury turned away an unusually high number of the submitted paintings. It caused a huge uproar amongst the artists. In order to prove that the Salons were democratic, and "Wishing to let the public judge the legitimacy of these complaints," Emperor Napoleon III decreed that the rejected artists could exhibit their works in an annex to the regular Salon, which became known as the Salon des Refusés. The critics and public ridiculed the refusés, which included Édouard Manet's Le Déjeuner l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) and James McNeill Whistler's Girl in White. Other famous artists who were rejected in Salons through the years are Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Mary Cassatt, Pissarro, Degas, and many more. Today, it's a rare museum that doesn't clamor to have one of these artists works in their collection.
Every summer in Houston, Lawndale Art Center invites artists living within a 100 mile radius of Houston to bring art works to be considered for their Big Show. This year, 976 works of art were dropped off. Understandably, because of space constraints and other considerations, only 114 works were accepted. Perhaps tongue in cheek, perhaps not, but in grand historical tradition, Emily Sloan of Gallery 1724 has curated an exhibit for the refused works from the Big Show. Taking my chance to follow in the footsteps of some of the greats in art history, my self portrait will be in this exhibit.
"Salon des Refusés" opens Friday, July 9, from 8pm-10pm. The exhibition will close August 7.
"Salon des Refusés" is an exhibition of artworks rejected from the Big Show 2010 at Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main St, Houston, Texas 77002. The BIG Show will be opening the same evening from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.