Félix Fénéon

The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde—From Signac to Matisse and Beyond

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Paul Signac. Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones, and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon in 1890. 1890. Oil on canvas. 29 x 36 1/2″ (73.5 x 92.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David Rockefeller, 1991. Photo by Jonathan Muzikar. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Who was Félix Fénéon? The first exhibition dedicated to this extraordinarily influential but little-known figure explores how he shaped the development of modernism. A French art critic, editor, publisher, dealer, and collector, Fénéon (1861–1944) championed the careers of young, avant-garde artists from Georges-Pierre Seurat and Paul Signac to Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse, among many others. He was also a pioneering collector of art from Africa and Oceania. A fervent anarchist during a period of gaping economic and social disparities, Fénéon believed in the potential of avant-garde art to promote a more harmonious, egalitarian world.

This exhibition is currently being presented here as part of our Virtual Views series, as we “museum from home.” Explore Fénéon’s life and the art that inspired him through highlights from MoMA curator Starr Figura, along with art, audio, and video features below.

  • Live Q&A starts Thursday, April 16, at 8:00 p.m. EDT

Félix Fénéon: The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde—From Signac to Matisse and Beyond is one of a trio of complementary exhibitions devoted to Fénéon that are organized by The Museum of Modern Art, the Musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie, Paris, and the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris.

Organized by Starr Figura, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Isabelle Cahn, Chief Curator, Musée d’Orsay; and Philippe Peltier, former Head, Océania and Insulindia Unit, Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac; with Anna Blaha, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Major funding for the exhibition is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jack Shear, and Denise Littlefield Sobel.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

MoMA Audio is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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