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Art exhibtions in Paris, February-September 2018
Liberty leads the people in the Louvre again as Delacroix's Romantic vision is given full exposure. Another ultra-famous work, Guernica, is subject to a background check at the Picasso Museum. The revolutionary-era Russian avant-garde marches on at the Pompidou. And there are Van Gogh, Mondrian, Kupka, Pollock, Tinteretto and Corot on show in art shows in Paris this spring and summer.
Delacroix, 28 March-23 July, The Louvre. Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, painted after the July revolution that toppled the resuscitated French monarchy in 1830, epitomises the marriage of revolution and nationalism in the French consciousness and has been, continuously recycled for political and commercial purposes. The Louvre presents 180 examples of his Romanticism on steroids – massacres in Greece, savage beasts rampant, orientalist fantasies of harems and hashish-crazed fanatics – along with the “mysterious” religious paintings and landscapes of his later years. It promises to reveal an “engaging character”, who was “curious, critical, and cultivated” and, apparently, a bit of a fame-junkie.
Also at the Louvre: France viewed from the Grand Siècle. Dessins d’Israël Silvestre (1621-1691), 15 March-25 June. Views of cities and châteaux when the French monarchy was at the height of its glory by a 17th-century artist born in the eastern city of Nancy.
Guernica, 27 March-29 July, Musée Picasso. Possibly history’s best-known image of war, Picasso’s Guernica has been adapted, adopted, copied and commented on thousands of times. A black-and-white cry of protest, it was painted in 1937 after German planes supporting the fascist rebellion of General Francisco Franco bombed the Basque town whose name it bears. Picasso, living in exile in France where he joined the Communist Party, refused to let it be taken to Spain until Franco’s regime had fallen, which took a lot longer than he may have imagined. Now it’s in Madrid’s Reina Sofía museum, which has sent preparatory sketches and related works to Paris’s own Picasso museum for what promises to be a fascinating show, which will look at the painting’s birth, its travels and the politics of its creator. Don’t expect to see the masterpiece itself, however. Now they’ve got their hands on it, the Spaniards aren’t letting it out of their sight.
Chagall, Lissitzky, Malévitch. L'avant-garde russe à Vitebsk (1918-1922), 28 March-16 July, Pompidou Centre. An artistic revolution was already under way in Russia before the Bolshevik revolution and, for a brief period, it was given a creative boost by the social upheaval. Kazimir Malevich’s suprematist Black Square shows up in photos being carried by Red Army soldiers, El Lissitsky blurred the borders between graphics and high art and helped give birth to a dazzling school of poster-making, Marc Chagall used Jewish and folk imagery in poetic compositions. Before Stalin and socialist realism, Chagall was among several artists who set up an art school in Vitebsk and students’ and teachers’ work joins those of the headline acts in this show, which arrives a little late for the revolution’s anniversary.
Also at the Pompidou: South African photographer David Goldblatt, 21 February-13 May; Malaysian artist Latiff Mohidin - Pago Pago (1960 - 1969), 28 February-28 May; US Pop artist Jim Dine’s donation to the museum, 14 February-23 April.
Dutch artists in Paris, 1789-1914, Petit Palais, 8 February-13 May. There were a lot of artists in Paris and some of them were Dutch. That’s about all the painters in this exhibition have in common, which leads to a show of variable quality. Skip the first couple of rooms and go straight to Jongkind, is my advice. The works by better-known French contemporaries scattered across in the show outshine some of the Dutch artists who joined their schools. But George Breitner is something of a revelation, to me at least. And you can see his friend Van Gogh become Vincent and Piet Mondrian become a brilliant abstractionist.
Frantisek Kupka, Pioneer of abstraction, 21 March-30 July, Grand Palais. Starting off as a symbolist in fin-de-siècle Vienna, Kupka passed through Orphism to pure abstraction. He moved to Paris in 1894, where he presumably found the metaphorical vie de Bohème, although he was, in fact, a literal Bohemian, having been born in Opocno, in what is now the Czech Republic. If you’re into colour, you’ll like Kupka’s stained-glass-like compositions. The organisers promise a “new approach” to symbolism and abstraction.
Also at the Grand Palais: Artists and Robots 5 April-9 July. You may be feeling insecure about artificial intelligence abolishing your job, but what about artists? Could there be such a thing as artificial creativity? This show for the digital age looks at machines that make art – at this stage, at least, created by artists.
Young Tinteretto, Musée du Luxembourg 7 March-1 July. The Venetian Renaissance master would have been 500 years old this year and the museum in the Luxembourg Gardens looks at the first 15 years of his career, as he rose from humble beginnings – the eldest of 21 children of a dyer, as his nickname never let him forget – to carve himself out a place in art history. Religious and profane paintings, portraits, drawings, all show the diversity of the genius’s work, the organisers tell us.
The Water Lilies. American Abstract Painting and the last Monet, Musée de l’Orangerie, 13 April-20 August. It’s not difficult to see the connection between Monet’s revered late paintings and post-World War II US abstract painters. Although his poetic calm is more like the work of Sam Francis, Mark Rothko or Ellsworth Kelly than hell-raisers like Jackson Pollock or Philip Guston, they’re all in the show. The Monet works are in permanent residence at the Orangerie and a homage to Kelly, who died in 2015, is to be hung on the way in to the room where they are exhibited.
Paintings from Afar, 30 January-6 January 2019 Musée du Quai Branly. Paris’s museum of non-European art has some 500 paintings stashed in its vaults – who knew? - and is fetching 200 out for the public’s perusal. They don’t really seem to fit the museum’s brief, since they are by European artists recording their encounter with the Other – Gauguin and Matisse in Tahiti, Emile Bernard in Cairo, George Catlin portraying native Americans. The blurb notes the “temptation of exoticism” and the “dreams of a luxurious Eastern world” but says the lads calmed down after a bit and became more realistic and “mindful of the Other”.
- Corot and his models, 8 February-8 July, Musée Marmottan Monet. . Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot is best-known for his landscapes, some of which are showing to great advantage alongside his Dutch colleagues at the Petit Palais. The models in question here are the people he used for figure paintings, rather than artistic insipirations, mostly in the domestic settings that were becoming popular as naturalism segued into impressionism.
- Mary Cassatt: une Américaine à Paris, 9 March-23 July, Musée Jacquemart-André. There weren't many women in the ranks of the impressionists - Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt and that was about it. Cassatt was an American, to boot, coming from a wealthy family, allowing her to spend time in France as a child. Her paintings are delicate, domestic and more precisely drawn than her male, French colleagues. The show has shipped pictures in from across the Atlantic, as well as borrowing from French and other collections.
- Wild Souls. Symbolism in the Baltic States, 10 April-15 July 2018. Something of a niche interest for the Musée d'Orsay's show this season. It marks the centenary of the establishment of the independent states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and shows how influences from the rest of Europe spread to the chilly north between the 1890s to the end of the 1920s.
- Foujita, 7 March-15 July, Musée Maillol. Japanese artist Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita acquired French nationality and became a Paris darling in the 1920s. His reputation has since declined but the buoyant art market means that all sorts of folk are getting a reboot these days. Judge for yourself whether it is deserved in Foujita's case if you care to examine the 100-odd works on show here.
- Rodin and Dance, 6 April-22 July, Musée Rodin. The Grand Palais's big show is over, as is the Rodin centenary, but the Musée Rodin is still in business. This season it looks at the master's fascination with dance, obviously a useful source for a sculptor of the human form. As well as using Westerners like Isidora Duncan as models, Rodin was deeply moved by a visit of Khmer dancers to France, making dozens of small figures representing them.
- In Tune with the World, 12 April-27 August, Fondation Louis Vuitton. Jolly Japanese Takashi Murakami has a floor to himself at Frank Gehry's big boat in the Bois de Boulogne. On other floors works by artists such as Alberto Giacometti, Henri Matisse, Christian Boltanski and Gerhard Richter are brought out of enrolled in an Rloand Baarthes-inspired effort to examine "man’s position within the universe and his relationship with other living things", no less. "These artists engage with current issues that echo the bustle and hum of the world, by reappropriating founding myths and developing a new awareness of living things," the foundation tells us.