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Can art be appreciated by contemporaries or only time is able to put everything in the right place?

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Real progressive artists are ahead of their time, their art is often misunderstood by the society to which it is shown. Such as, in the second half of the 19th century, a group of young artists

(E. Manet, E. Degas, O. Renoir, C. Monet, Pissarro, Sisley) abandoned the canons of academic painting, showing the viewer a completely new style of fine art - impressionism. For which the adherents of the classical academic art direction were severely criticized.



Degas vs. Bouguereau


In the right image (2) we see a painting by Edgar Degas "The Resting Dancer", which was sold for $28 millions in 1999, and less than 10 years later it was bought for $37 millions at Sotheby’s auction.

In the left image (1) is a piece by French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau “The Birth of Venus”, created in 1879, is considered one of the most famous classical works of art of the 19th century and a masterpiece of academicism. The Birth of Venus was created for the Paris Salon of 1879. Critics praised the painting, and it was awarded the Grand Prix of Rome.


Edgar Degas disparagingly called the works of William Bouguereau "Bouguereaute". Probably for this reason, after the death of the painter, he was quickly forgotten. His work is kept in museums. Only in the 60s of the last century, William Bouguereau "was rediscovered" and the demand for his work at world auctions and the price of each piece increased dramatically. If in 1960 his paintings were estimated at an average of 500 - 1500 US dollars, then by the end of the XX century their value increased many times over.


In May 2019, with an estimate of 25,000,000 - 35,000,000 US dollars, the painting "Youth of Bacchus" (Sotheby's, 11/06/2014) was put up for auction, but there was no buyer for it.



“Take good care of what you do not understand. It may turn out to be a work of art" Inscription in the Prado Museum. Madrid. Spain

Analysing the above facts and figures, the question remains open whether what we do not understand and do not perceive is of no value …


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