Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Maximilien Luce: Artist, Lithographer & Anarchist


Many of the Impressionists saw what the Industrial Age was doing to the souls of men. All these workers were cogs in a machine which required them to work long hours for very little pay. This work was often dangerous and if the workers were injured, well, too bad. 


Of those times, there were a few artists who became overtly sympathetic to the plight of the working poor. They were: Camille Pissarro, who fled France, Paul Signac and Maximilien Luce.



I was familiar with the works of Pissarro and Signac, but knew nothing of Luce. That is, until I had to write an essay on an impressionist painter. Knowing the teacher would be inundated with papers on Monet, Degas, and Van Gogh, I researched and found Luce.

Luce was a wonderful and interesting find - painter, lithographer and anarchist. He painted landscapes and urban life. (Along with Seurat and Signac he originated pointillism - a technique where small dots of color optically blend to create an image. ) 

  Luce was also known for painting subjects of social realism - war, citizen revolts, industry's effects on people and the land, and the plight of the those out of power. These were the images that would lead to his arrest, trial and conviction - the very outcome that made Pissarro flee to London. (Google: "Trial of the Thirty")


However, even after release Luce continued his political resistance in his paintings albeit more subtly. At age 76, he was elected President of the Société des Artistes Indépendants. He soon resigned in protest against the society's policy to restrict the admission of Jewish artists. (Below: He painted the light leaning left in the manner of representing Socialism in a scene divided between bucolic nature and the inhumanity of the smoke and soot belching out of the smoke stacks)

He always stood by what he believed. Could this be why we know so little of him in the history of Impressionism? What do you think?


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