From its humble beginnings in a cellar lit by a few electric bulbs, the Salon d’Automne founded by Franz Jourdain back in 1903 has grown to such impressive proportions that it is now impossible to convey even a hint, an iota, a glimpse of the road traveled. The profusion of talent and new ideas offered at the salon, year after year, with its inevitable cortege of plaudits and outcries, is absolutely dizzying. Succumbing to the magic and the medley of images evoked by each of these names – Bonnard, Matisse, Cézanne, Renoir, Redon – one leaps from one world to another, from the “cage aux fauves” to the Picassos at the “Salon de la Libération” in 1944 and to Nicolas de Staël at the “Salon de la Victoire” barely a year later, from Utrillo, Dufy and Soulages to Debré and Zao Wou-ki. Cinema also plays a part in this dialogue of the arts; the Salon d’Automne is a mirror in which an entire century of bold experiments, improbable innovations and brilliant endeavors have collided and converged to draw closer to its public.
And yet, despite its many triumphs, a fraction of which would fill another with riches and pride, the Salon d’Automne has never settled into easy complacency or a routine of change for the sake of change. Its secret of eternal youth is to constantly seek new inspiration, by staying open to the world, to all forms of art and to other cultures, crossing boundaries that are often more deeply entrenched in the mind than on a map. Year upon year, the Salon d’Automne has amply shown that today’s avant-garde are the forerunners of tomorrow’s freedoms and common ground.