Easton, CT, 8/07/06 —An oil painting by American artist Robert January has been accepted into the celebrated annual Paris exhibition Salon d’Automne which draws approximately 15,000 entries annually. January, who grew up in Wichita Falls, is one of a handful of Americans to have work juried into this historic show that launched the European masters of 20th century painting—and this is his second trip. A January drawing was accepted in 2004, his first try.
Show dates are from December 7 through the 17th, in the Palais des Congrès de l'Est Parisien. The reception is scheduled for Thursday, December 7 at 6 pm. The President of France and Minister of Culture are frequently among the 1,000 attendees, making the event similar to Hollywood’s Academy Awards.
Prior to the Paris exhibition, several of January’s paintings and drawings will be on view this side of the Atlantic at Max’s of Westport, Connecticut (Post Road at Main), from August 1 through the 31st (website:
January was first inspired to paint when visiting 30,000 year old rock paintings in the difficult-to-access Algerian Sahara (Tssali N’Agger), one of the great outdoor art museums on earth. “The art had a force not found in air-conditioned museums except via the hand of a Titian, Michelangelo or Cezanne. I couldn’t get it out of my system until I began to sculpt and paint—those ancient voices out of the rocks,” the artist said. Since then, January has been juried into numerous local, national and international shows and won prizes for drawing and painting. His paintings now hang in collections in Japan, Europe and the US.
Unlike many modern artists, January insists on working “from natural light and in the living, physical presence of the subject,” thinking we need more of both in this day and age. He believes that part of the power of great art, prehistoric or modern, comes from heightened perception and deep knowledge of the subject, hardly characteristics of modern life.
His painting accepted into the 2006 Salon d’Automne, Howard Reading the Newspaper is a portrait of Howard Smith, a homage to an old friend who almost died of a sudden tear of the esophagus. Howard, 81 but tough, underwent emergency surgery then spent three months in intensive care surviving against all odds. Initial drawings were executed in the hospital, the paintings months later after Howard recovered well enough to travel to January’s Connecticut studio.
January’s style appears realistic to some, more abstract to others. “Personally, I don’t call it anything at all," January said. "I just try my best to get it all in. I avoid modern philosophical jargon at all cost. I try to go where words refuse. "‘Art is never modern,' according to the great Austrian abstract expressionist Ego Schiele. ’Art is primordially eternal.’ January adds, “As long as my hand is connected to my heart, and not my brain, my work seems to progress.”
Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, January attended Wichita Falls public schools, received a BA in philosophy at the University of Texas and after graduation worked as a journalist in the Middle East, specializing in energy and Arab affairs. His first solo show "Sacred Geometry, Sacred Color: The Human Figure" was at the Westport Arts Center 2005, juried from over a hundred entries by Robbin Zella, curator of the Housatonic Museum. Other shows include the juried Florence Biennial 2005, Silvermine’s Art of the Northeast 2005, Salon d’Automne 2004 in Paris, Lyme Art Association’s Art of New England 2004, Maryland Federation's Art on Paper 2004 in Annapolis, Audubon Artists Annual Juried Show 2003 in New York, The Portrait, 2003 at the John Slade Ely House, New Haven, and the National Academy School Juried Annual Show in 2003 and its juried Cork Gallery Lincoln Center Show in 2004, both in New York, as well as participated in the Easton Arts Council 2004 Annual Members Show and the Westport Art Center Members Show 2003 and 2004.
Jury Process for Salon d’Automne: Some 15,000 entries are received yearly, mainly from artists living in France but also all over the world, according to Marie-Lin Colle, an administrative official of the Salon d’Automne. From these, a large jury of artists spends nearly three months sifting through images. In the end, only about 700 works (sculpture, drawings, paintings, prints, new technology, photographs, and architectural plans) are chosen, so the odds of acceptance are very low.
Historical note: Le Salon d’Automne began in 1903 with Cézanne and impressionist exhibits. These exhibitions both shocked and exhilarated Paris society and the international art world which had little exposure up to this time to the new higher-keyed more-colorful art. Le Salon d'Automne should not be confused with the much older "Paris Salon" (of the Société des Artistes Français) initiated during the reign of Louis XIV, which held sway over artist careers in France through the 19th century. Interestingly, King Louis XIV's salon is still held annually, usually the month prior to Le Salon d'Automne, under the name "Société des Artistes Français."
Robert Henri is among American artists who have exhibited at the Salon d’Automne. Europeans include the great masters of 20th century art, from Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, Le Corbusier through the masters of surrealism, futurism, expressionism, pop art, conceptualism and virtually every other modern art movement.