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City vs. Country: The Rural Image in French Painting

IMAGES OF THE MODERN CITY, its factories, its machines and its workers, would not provide a sufficient basis for a study of the way art is related to the urban-industrial revolution. On the contrary, such images are relatively rare, and it is frequently latent or indirect imagery which provides the essential clues.1 For example, the art of the early 20th century showed a stubborn retention of traditional images despite the willful expression of a new dynamism. The Futurist Boccioni, regardless of his revolutionary statements about machinery, retained the nude human form and the horse in many of his major works. Duchamp-Villon’s principal sculpture evokes a horse, and Brancusi often chose birds and fish, pre-industrial images whose natural state suggested speed and streamlined form. Kandinsky embodied his apocalyptic visions in floods, tottering city walls and horsemen.

In 19th-century

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