The “beautiful era," French expression, dates back to the interwar years between 1871 and 1914, when Paris was at the forefront of urban development and cultural innovation. At this time, the Parisians witnessed the construction of the Eiffel Tower, the domination of the Montmartre district as the epicenter of art and entertainment and the clarification of its metropolis under the influence of electric light. From the nostalgic point of view of the twentieth century, this four-year period of progress and prosperity was the golden age of spectacle and the joy of life.
For artists experiencing an era, however, the less triumphant details of everyday life were often the ones that inspired creative expression: a factory smoke club mingled with clouds; the cheeky mockery of a cabaret performer; tightly decorated home decor. In order to convey the immediacy of what they observed, artists such as Pierre Bonnard and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec rejected the formalities of oil painting, preferring free, sketchy-like processing, sharp compositional cropping, and oblique points of view that place the viewer in the scene. Many artists turned to print production as a new convincing visual environment that offered bold aesthetic experiments, expanding the potential market for avant-garde art. "Day and night: Paris in the "Beautiful Age“considers a wide range of artistic responses to life in the French capital through a selection of paintings, drawings, prints and photographs from the museum’s collections. Together, these works of art demonstrate that visual artists participated in the inventive spirit of the era, interpreting everyday life as something extraordinary.