Category Archives: exhibitions

Picasso and the Masters reign over Paris #1

Here is the blockbuster of all exhibitions of this fall in Paris: Picasso and the Masters at Grand-Palais, and if you ask for more, Picasso/Manet : le déjeuner sur l’herbe at Musée d’Orsay, and Picasso/Delacroix: Femmes d’Alger at the Louvre.

Long before it started, it was mentioned in most French medias : ” It’s so important, it’s so expensive, it’s been so difficult to achieve, it’s a major event…”

I just visited the main course of the menu, at Grand-Palais, so this will be my first contribution on the subject.

We have a proverb, in France, which came to my mind when I left the museum. It says : Qui trop embrasse mal étreint (” who embraces too much grasps poorly”), and has a double meaning :(” he who kisses too much is a poor lover”). There is a playful, witty aspect in Picasso’s work that is completely lost in this solemn presentation.

Still, this exhibition issue and tittle could have been given by Picasso himself.

Pierre Auguste Renoir, Baigneuse assise dans un paysage, dite Eurydice (1895/1900) Paris, Musée Picasso.

Pablo Picasso, Grande Baigneuse (1931) Paris, Musée de l’Orangerie.

Vincent Van Gogh , l’Arlésienne (Madame Ginoux) 1888, Paris Musée d’Orsay

Pablo Picasso, Portrait de Lee Miller en Arlésienne (1937) Paris Musée Picasso

One of the most important and well known work of analysis, dissection, transformation achieved by Picasso is the serie of 44 Ménines d’après Vélasquez painted in 1957 between August 17 and December 30.

Here was a tough issue : The Ménines stay in Madrid Prado Museum, and don’t travel : they’re too large (318cmx276cm), too old (1656), and too precious. The chosen solution hardly solves the problem. A small diapositive of the Ménines by Velasquez is hanging close to the ceiling in the corner of the room where some of the actual Ménines by Picasso are exhibited. This device gives no idea of Picasso‘s confrontation with Velasquez work.

Diego Velasquez, la famille de Philippe IV, dit les Ménines(1656) Madrid Museo Nacional del Prado, versus les Ménines d’après Vélasquez by Pablo Picasso (septembre 1957) Barcelona, Museu Picasso, as shown in the exhibition catalog.

Picasso facing Poussin and David is more convincingly exhibited, for the ancient Masters paintings stay in France.

Nicolas Poussin, L’enlèvement des Sabines (1637/1638) Paris, Musée du Louvre.

Pablo Picasso, L’enlèvement des Sabines(1962) Paris Centre Pompidou

Another thing puzzled me, each room is dedicated to a theme (self-portrait, nude, still-life…) and mixes Picasso paintings of all periods, and besides, some links pointed between his work and earlier examples are somewhat irrelevant.

There are actually many famous masterpieces from museums abroad in this large exhibition, and it’s always great to have the opportunity to look at them. So, in spite of my restrictions, I don’t want you to think that it is not worth visiting – and besides, you might completely disagree with me. Do make a reservation, because it’s very popular, and if you don’t, you might have to stand in line for hours before getting in.

Picasso et les Maîtres, Galeries Nationales du Grand  Palais, Metro Champs-Elysées-Clémenceau everyday except Tuesday 10 to 22, up to 20 on Thursday. Up to February 2 (entrance square Jean Perrin).

More information, virtual visit on http://www.rmn.fr/Exposition-Picasso-et-les-Maitre

you can make a reservation on : www.fnac.comwww.digitick.com, www.ticketnet.fr

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Andrea Mantegna’s paintings in Paris Musée du Louvre

There are many reasons to pay a visit to Paris Musée du Louvre, and this fall provides a very special one : Mantegna 1431 – 1506.  The last exhibition dedicated to this star painter of Italian Renaissance took place in London in 1992, so this one is a real event.

Don’t get fooled by the apparent quietness in the lobby, people gather under the Sully aisle esclator, you have to stand in line for a while and it’s a bit crowdy inside, so I would suggest you to come early morning, or for nocturnes, or to make a reservation.

But you should’not miss this. For the first time – at least for decades- the exibition shows most of Mantegna’s remaining works, gathered from museums all around the world.

This Saint Marc leaning on a “trompe-l’oeil” balcony comes from Städelesches Kunsshalle in Frankfurt am Main, and Mantegna painted it in Padoue in 1450, when he was about nineteen.

This wonderful Saint Jérôme in the Wilderness comes from San Paolo Museum of Art and was painted in the same years.

The exhibition follows a chronological path, pointing the artist’s influences, his followers and the contemporary painters he knew, in the first place Giovanni Bellinni, who was also his step-brother.  It refreshens our perception of the cultural and political exchanges and habits in European countries during the fifteenth century. Mantegna‘s painting turned the gothic page and opened the Quattrocento, which partly explains why he was so famous in his time.

Christ in the olive trees garden, painted in 1455, comes from London National Gallery.

This gathering makes clear some of the artist’s major topics, how he used the frame, trompe l’oeil effects, the underneath point of view, perspective and various scales, hyper realistic details and fantasmatic visions, which explains why his work interested or inspired many later artists, and is still fascinating.

The exhibition is also made for children. Next to some pictures, cardboards invite them to focus on some detail, to look for a rider hidden in a cloud, for animals, for what’s going on in the background…  ..

We can regret that the absence of the Dead Christ, who stayed hanged on a wall of Milan‘s Brera Pinacotheca, but fortunately Madrid Prado Museum has let go this fascinating Death of the Virgin (1461), which actually represents a most beautifully staged portrait of the city of Mantoue (the city of his new sponsor)


This version of Saint Sebastien (1470) comes from Wien Kunsthistoriches Museum.

And this theatrical Judith and Holopherne (1495) comes from Washington National Gallery of Art.

But the Madona of Victory (circa 1596) is a resident of Paris Musée du Louvre.

His engravings, sketches…are fascinating too, and above all  the frescoes that could not be moved, so that we’ll have to go to Italy to see what’s left of them – but who would complain about this ?

Meanwhile, this Paris exhibition is a must, and a delight

Mantegna 1431 – 1506, Musée du Louvre, aile Sully (enter under the pyramid) metro Palais-Royal, tel 33(0)1 40 20 53 17, open everyday except Tuesday 9 to 18, Wednesday and Friday up to 22. Up to January 5. Entrance €9,50  (€13, or €11 at night, if you wish to visit some other part of the museum, but then, take a break, it’s a a very rich exhibition and you don’t want to look at something else right away ).

To buy your tickets previously you may go on : http://ticketnet.com/shop/fr/module.asp?id=34

or : http://www.ticketweb.com/

or: http://www.fnacspectacles.com/

More information on : http://www.louvre.fr/llv/commun/home.jsp

Walk among glittering crystals in Paris Parc de Bagatelle

Bagatelle is a beautiful ancient romantic garden, created in queen Marie-Antoinette’s time, and located in Bois de Boulogne. It is famous for its gorgeous roses, but this fall, all great French historical crystal trademarks have joined their talents to change Bagatelle into crystal gardens

On a beautiful day, it’s a lovely destination, but forget it if it’s grey.

Ever lasting water lilies glitter in the sun.

Palm trees are heavy with shimmering glass fruits,

or blue flowers,

and fountains look frozen.

Walk in the Trianon to look at more traditional crystal works, like this chandelier.

Outside, crystal swans float along with their shiny transparent reflection,

but it takes more to to disturb living swans.

All these dreamy pictures were taken by my friend Anne Marie Dumas.

Jardins de Cristal à Bagatelle, every day 10 to 18 up to November 8, entrance €3.

Bagatelle garden is route de Sèvres, Bois de Boulogne. Metro Pont de Neuilly + bus 43 up to Neuilly-Parc de Bagatelle (end of the line). But you can also take bus 43 from Gare du Nord, or Gare Saint Lazare and ride all the way by bus. It might take a little longer, but it’s a nice trip through Paris.

Paris Autumn Festival starting September 13 at “La Maison Rouge”

Beginning next week-end, on September 13, Paris Autumn Festival offers up to december 21  a selection of all kinds of modern artistics productions to be seen in Paris.

It starts at La Maison Rouge, one of the Paris foundations dedicated to modern plastic arts, located next to Paris Arsenal Harbour, built in an old factory.

It’s first exhibition on this fall shows an untitled installation by Marie Cool and Fabio Balducci :

Their work is based on repetitive gestures and videos.

In a dark room, Christian Boltanski opens for us his Archives du Coeur (Heart’s files)

Both events start on Saturday September 13 from 11 to 15, and go on up to October 5, Wednesday to Sunday 11-19, up to 21 on Thursday. During next Paris Nuit Blanche (Wakeful Night), Boltanski’s exhibition will be running all night through October 4 to October 5

Next to the Maison Rouge exhibitions rooms is a bookstore dedicated to plastic arts, and usually a nice cafe, which is closed up to October 5. But during this time, instead of having a drink, you can pay a visit to Andrea Blum‘s Birdhouse Cafe.

It’s a birds house where public is staying stuck up  the aviary, looking down at birds who move freely.

La Maison Rouge, 10 boulevard de la Bastille 75012 Paris, Metro Bastille or Quai de la Rapée, tel 33(0) 1 40 01 08 81, entrance € 6,50, €4,50 for over 65, free under 13.

Festival d’Automne de Paris, information and reservation 33(0)1 53 45 17 17 (Monfay to Friday 11 to 18, Saturday 11 to 15) and on www.festival-automne.com

Richard Avedon in Paris Galerie du Jeu de Paume

The great photo exhibition in Paris this summer is dedicated to Richard Avedon. 270 photos showing the various aspects of the artist’s career, from 1946 up to 2004, the year of his death, are  to be seen at the Galerie du Jeu de Paume, in the Tuileries Garden.

Fashion pictures for Harper’s Bazaar magazine, like this one of Dovima wearing an evening gown by Christian Dior and posing with elephants at Paris Cirque d’hiver in 1955.

Or this 1968 portrait of Twiggy, a star model of the sixties, wearing a fancy hair do by Ara Gallant :

He’s been shooting politicians, artists and rockstars… and himself, like in this self portrait taken  on August 20 1980.

In the eighties, he started focusing on anonymous working class people :

Roberto Lopez, worker on an oil field in Lyons Texas, portraited on September 28 1980, is part of the series  In the American West, as well as :

Sandra Bennet,  from Rocky Ford, Colorado,12 years old, portraited on August 23 1980.

All this pictures copyright the Richard Avedon Foundation, courtesy le Jeu de Paume, and many thanks to the great site where you can go to if you want to know all about modern art exhibitions in Paris and all over France : www.paris-art.com/,

Richard Avedon, exhibition up to September 28, Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, 1 place de la Concorde 75001 Paris, Metro Concorde, tel 33 (0) 1 47 03 12 50. Closed on Monday, open Tuesday 12  to 21, Wednesday to Friday 12 to 19, Saturday and Sunday 10 to 19. Entrance € 7.

More information on : www.jeudepaume.org

And after or before visiting this exhibition, take a walk in the garden and take a look at the modern sculptures. Don’miss Clara Clara by Richard Serra, remodeling the perspective from Concorde to the Louvre :

nore Louise Bourgeois’  Welcoming Hands

to be seen close to the Galerie du Jeu de Paume.

Paris Parc de la Villette : a place to visit this summer, for art, outdoor films and concerts

This summer, there are a lot of good reasons to go north up to Parc de la Villette, the largest of Paris gardens, offering a wide range of cultural and leisure activities.

The art event takes place in the beautiful glass Grande Halle :

Up to August 17, come in and discover a giant installation by Yayoï Kusama, who has been working on dots for forty years.

This artist, who was closed to Pop Art and Andy Warhol in the sixties, takes this pattern both light and seriously, declaring “My life is a dot lost among other dots”.

Tuesday to Sunday 14 to 22, free entrance.

And it goes with a workshop on dots for kids (from 2 years old). July Sunday 20, Wednesday 23 and Saturday 26 at 16.30. It’s one hour long, with a drink at the end, and costs € 7.  But you have to make a reservation, dialing 33(0)1 40 03 75 75.

Up to August 17,  you also have the opportunity to watch a film (in original version) sitting on a lawn, at Prairie du Triangle, Tuesday to Sunday at nightfall. Price € 2  . For € 5 you can book a deck chair and a blanket. Program on : www.cinema.arbo.com/index.php3?p=tous_films –

World musics every Sunday up to August 24 at Folie Belvédere : it’s scènes d’été (Summer Stages), July 20 and 27, August 3,10,17 and 24, one concert at 17.30 and one at 19.30. Free. Program and information on 33(0)1 40 03 75 75.

For all information on these events and detailed programs go to : www.villette.com/

Parc de la Villette, 211 avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris, Metro Porte de Pantin or Porte de la Villette

John Armleder:Jacques Garcia – an unusual experience in Paris Swiss Cultural Center

Wandering in Paris Marais streets  on a hot or rainy, or windy day, do take a break and pay a visit to Swiss Cultural Center, located rue des Francs-Bourgeois, at the end of a narrow cobbled alley.

The Swiss artist John Armleder has kept being concerned by the prominent part of the viewer in a work of art, and the relation between paintings and their surroundings.

Most of the time, my paintings would end being hanged next to a couch or over a fire place, so at this point, I decided to provide both the painting and the couch.

As John Armleder thinks that it’s the viewer who makes the work of art, French designer Jacques Garcia thinks that it’s the customer who makes the design.

For this installation, John Armleder has asked  Jacques Garcia, well known for his baroque, neo- gothique, second empire interiors (Ladurée tea rooms for example), to create a furnished flat as a setting for paintings and photographs.

You first enter a fancy dining room  with a table set for supper, and then come in a boudoir opening on a bedroom, with a tiger skin laying  on the floor, its naturalized  mouth wide open, and a painting of a vampire lady on the wall. All  walls are covered with burgundy drapes, the only natural light comes from a ceiling window.  Profusion of art and literary books, decorative objects, paintings and photos on the walls (not all by Armleder) that  share a  sophisticated and a bit deleterious erotic touch, all that make you feel it’s really someone’s place. An odd, out of time, a kitsch but somehow charming private place, a place you don’t belong to.  And suddenly, you see yourself in a mirror you had’nt noticed : you’re part of the whole installation. It makes you feel as if you were walking inside a Gustave Moreau painting.

A bit weird experience, but really worth it.

Centre Cuturel Suisse 132-138 rue des Francs-Bourgeois 75003 Paris Metro Saint-Paul tel 33 (0) 1 42 71 44 50 opened Wednesday to Sunday 13 – 20, Thursday up to 22. Free entrance. Exhibition John Armleder : Jacques Garcia up to August 4, and from September 3 to September 28 (Swiss Cultural Center closes in August )

For more information, go to : www.ccsparis.com/