ARTHIST 186 j term paper


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USE AS REFERENCE MATERIAL ONLY Art History 186J, UCSB Haussmannization, Through the Eyes of the Artists Mid- nineteenth century Paris was changing fast. Baron Haussmann, a developer, saw the opportunity to completely demolish old Paris and construct a new, modern city that would become a large capital of commerce. He destroyed all signs of a quaint, small town atmosphere with narrow streets and unique architecture in favor of homogenous buildings of the same height, multiple story apartment buildings, and large, paved streets running parallel and in between the new, squarish city. His “Haussmannization” of the city “enabled traffic, air, and water to circulate more easily (Kessler 51)”, which turned it into a large, capitalistic transport center that resulted in a huge growth in population. However, with the opening up of boulevards and the standardizing of apartment buildings and city structures, Haussmannization displaced many if not all of the working class citizens of Paris, as they could not afford to live in the new, grander version of their once charming town. Upper and lower class citizens could no longer coexist; as T.J. Clark puts it, “the time was gone when workers and bourgeois had lived together, worked together, exchanged countries, done business together, and gained understanding of each other’s ways (Clark 43)”. The people that made up the population that could not afford to live on the new grand boulevards were effectively shifted to the outskirts of town and the rural suburbs, making room for the new centers of pleasure and commerce that they would hardly be able to take part in, aside from working on their construction and window shopping. Haussmann’s vision of modernity had been built by “evicting the working class of Paris from the centre of the city, and putting it down on the hill of Belleville or the plains of La Villette where the moon was
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still most often the only street light available (Clark 23)”. Artists of the time portrayed the new boulevards, buildings, streets, and parks created by Haussmann, but in very different ways depending on their overall opinion of the new Paris. While Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir seemed to celebrate the modernization, intended unification and new social opportunities the city provided, Gustave Caillebotte and Edouard Manet tended to show the displaced working class and the overall impersonal, plain, hurried atmosphere that was characteristic of Haussmannized Paris. In 1867, Renoir painted “Le Pont des Arts”, a buoyant vision of tourists coming and going in the barges on the river. He “floods his picture with light and air (Herbert 9)”, creating the effect of a cheerful summer afternoon, with people coming to admire the new Paris and revel in all that it had to offer as a new capital center. He shows the new Haussmannized buildings in the background mixing well with the old architecture of the dome of the Institut de France. His
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