What Is a Salon?

Portrait of Madame X, 1884, by John Singer Sargent.

For 207 years, the Salon of the Académie des Beaux-Arts exercised enormous control over the French art world, and by extension the art of the Continent, Great Britain, the Commonwealth, and the United States.

In 1874, however, the Impressionists broke away, frustrated by the Salon’s control and exclusionary policies. They held their own salons until 1886, by which the state sponsorship of the Salon ended. By 1884, after Sargent’s embarrassing reception at the Paris Salon with Portrait of Madame X, other artists splintered from the Salon to form their own reviews, and to hold their own discussions about art’s history, its present, and its future. The art world had become too big, and too interesting, for a single group to define.

The salon tradition continues today, in Denver and around the world.

Feral Factory holds its salons in conjunction with its exhibitions, with optional readings and talking points around the themes. A salon differs from our other events, like openings and Art Pairings, because while we’re there to appreciate and celebrate the art, we’re there also to discuss deeper themes.

For Feral Factory, there is no such thing as art without our shared culture and ongoing conversations. So let’s not simply look at the art and nod knowingly or cluck or tongues judgmentally; let’s open up a conversation. Let’s dig deeply into art’s meaning, and let’s really talk. Art may not be able to change the world, but the world can’t change without it.

We hope you’ll be able to join us for all our events at Feral Factory, and we look forward to seeing you at a salon soon.