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Mon Jan 30, 2012, 01:17 PM

Left alone with Henri Le Sidaner


Absentees: Henri Le Sidaner's "La Table bleue, Gerberoy" ("The Blue Table, Gerberoy" 1923) SINGER LAREN, THE NETHERLANDS; PHOTO © SINGER LAREN/ TOM HAARTSEN, AMSTERDAM

There are several points at which the conventional language of art criticism breaks down. The French painter, Henri Le Sidaner, the obscure but distinguished subject of an exhibition at the likewise relatively obscure but distinguished Museum of Modern Art Saitama, is one of these.

With a career that started in the latter decades of the 19th century and continued until his death in 1939, Le Sidaner is often categorized as either a symbolist or an intimist painter.

The French Symbolist movement is more typically associated with poets such as Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine, who, depending on one's critical viewpoint, aimed at either expressing absolute truths or striking "cool" philosophical poses.

The movement, which had a broad influence on fin-de-siècle French culture, however, also included some well-known painters, such as Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Odilon Redon, and Gustave Moreau. But while these painters used obviously symbolic elements in their works, such as allegorical figures and dream imagery, Le Sidaner's paintings can best be described as soulful, romanticized renditions of reality

On reflection: "Le Canal, Amiens" (1901) PRIVATE COLLECTION; PHOTO © YVES LE SIDANER

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