Letter from France: April 2013

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Whether you’re a novice or seasoned traveller, France will steal your heart. Each month, Frederic – our French correspondent – gives us the low-down on what to see and do across the channel


Until April 28: Art Collector’s Eye, Redon & Denis ‘Dream, Love, Holy’
In the first part of a private art collection’s exhibition, the works, illustrations and embossments, presented by the Musée Bonnard belongs to two main artists from the end of the 19th Century, Odilon Redon, symbolist painter, and Maurice Denis, one of the Nabis. For both of them, a piece of art must be the representation of emotion and feelings.
Le Cannet, Alpes Maritimes-06, Musée Bonnard

Until May 19: An artist’s travels trough Micronesia, the floating universe of Paul Jacoulet
160 remarkable engravings, sketches, watercolours and paintings offer a deep dive into the work of Paul Jacoulet (1896-1960), a French artist who spend quite his whole life in Japan from where he travelled to many Asian countries. This exhibition is focused on the works he produced during his journeys to Micronesia, a mix of delicate and intimate portraits, aesthetical erotic bodies and quite ethnographic drawings highlighting tattoos, headdresses and jewels.
Paris, Musée du Quai Branly



Until May 23: Centre Pompidou Mobile, Le Havre
The Centre Pompidou Mobile project, just born last year, is the first nomadic contemporary and modern art museum in the world. It’s a light dismountable and moveable structure that travels three times in a year from town to town to present selections of major artworks from the collections of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The public is not going to the museum. The museum is going to the public. This year theme is ‘Circle and Square’ in remembrance of the birth in 1930 of the first abstract movement led by Mondrian, Arp, Kandinsky … This free exhibition presents artworks by fifteen artists including also Vasarely, Kandinsky, Duchamp, Léger, Soto, Buren. Thanks to a loan by Le Havre’s Art Museum André Malraux, François Morellet is the only one whom two pieces of Art are presented in this exhibition.
Le Havre, Seine Maritime-76, Centre Pompidou Mobile

Until June 2: Robert Arnoux at Bagatelle
Inside the prestigious romantic garden of Bagatelle, among cascades and lawns, Robert Arnoux, a contemporary sculptor, arranged about 30 groups of his slim human statues,so simple that many could imagine them as phantom figures. A peace and love vision of humanity among a beautiful and aesthetic nature. A perfect opportunity to discover or to re-discover the Jardins de Bagatelle and its wonderful roses’ garden.
Paris-Neuilly, Jardins de Bagatelle

Until June 9: The Angel of the Odd, Dark Romanticism from Goya to Max Ernst
It’s the main exhibition of the year at Musée d’Orsay, and the French title of the exhibition ‘L’Ange du Bizarre’ is the translation by Beaudelaire of the title of a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, and symbolizes the artistic trend that appears in European arts throughout the 19th Century. The works covered all the periods of the Dark Romanticism from its emergence (1770-1850) to the Symbolist Art times (1860-1900) and finally to the Surrealist movement (1920-1940). All along, all these artists took a large part of their inspiration from the texts written by Shakespeare, Milton, Dante and Sade.
Paris, Musée d’Orsay


Until June 9: Alberto Giacometti, Space Head Figure
Through the main loan by the Giacometti Foundation and a few little ones from private and public collections, the Grenoble’s Museum offers a large panorama of the bronze works by Giacometti, his thin ‘figures‘ and the expressive ‘heads‘ that are sometimes brought face to face as in ‘La Cage’ a 1950’s work, as well as in a different version dated to 1965.
Grenoble, Isére-38, Musée de Grenoble

Until June 10: Treasures from Ancient China, ritual bronzes from the Meiyintang collection
For the first time, more than 100 archaic Chinese bronzes of the Meiyintang collection will be presented to public. It’s the most fabulous group of bronzes dating from 2000 to1000 BC, ever brought together by a single private collector. All these pieces of art reveal the extraordinary skill of the Chinese founders using bold designs and stylised patterns.
Paris, Musée Guimet

Until June 30: The School of Shanghai (1840-1920)
During the 19th Century, armed conflicts shook the Qing Dynasty so hard that many artists, painters and calligraphers chose to flee to Shangai where under the protection of Western armies, they could develop their art. The combination of traditional Chinese visual art with the freedom of drawings and the large use of colour borrowed from the West, opened the door to a new revitalized major Chinese painting which is presented in this remarkable exhibition that includes numerous outstanding loans from the Shangai Museum.
Paris, Musée Cernuschi


Until July 2: Signac, the Colours of water
For the 150th anniversary of Paul Signac’s birth, the Museum of Impressionisms in Giverny provides an exhibition of about 130 paintings by Signac. All his life, Paul Signac was inspired by water scenes, creating new ‘Impressionist’ techniques including the use of small touches of raw colours. This exhibition is the first of the six main exhibitions of the second Normandy Impressionism Festival.
Giverny, Eure-27, Musée des Impressionismes

Until July 14: Beloved Hair. Trophies and Trifles
An exhibition dedicated to all aspects of hair and its huge importance in any society through history, as an instrument of beauty and seduction as well as a symbol of power. Hair is also displayed as an object of remembrance of beloved ones and as a symbol of time passing and death. A large section shows us how, in some non-European societies that practised trophy taking and head hunting, hair was a symbol of energy and power, retaining the aura of his owner.
Paris, Musée du Quai Branly


Until July 14: Napoléon and the Europe
Only in charge for 15 years, Napoleon had a huge impact on the world. His dream was to rule the whole Europe by invading countries but, in doing so he created new institutions and reformed the laws. The exhibition chronologically presents the two faces of Napoléon’s impact on Europe, his acts to realize his vision of Europe and the reactions, positive or violent, from peoples and foreign powers. The Napoléon’s legacy was important not only to France, but also to Europe.
Paris, Musée de l’Armée (Hôtel National des Invalides)

Until July 17: Philippines, Archipelago of Exchanges
First European exhibition dedicated to the vast Archipelago with more than 1700 islands, all the items presented belong to the pre-colonial period. Due to the geographical location and the vastness of the Philippines, visitors are invited to compare the artworks of the Northern islands’ populations who lived inside lands and those produced all along the coasts where the influence of maritime contacts is highly visible.
Paris, Musée du Quai Branly


Until July 21: Chagall, between War and Peace
The life of Chagall was sliced between the Russian revolution, exile, two World Wars and these exhibitions show the interference with his painting. Despite these terrible periods, from which the Chagall’s works are firstly presented, the artist’s happiness shines in the second
section of the exhibition.
Paris, Musée du Luxembourg


Until July 22: Eugène Boudin
For the first time in 114 years, Paris showcases the works of Eugène Boudin, the first of pre- impressionist painters, who was called ‘king of skies’ by Corot himself and who was considered by Monet as his master in art. He travelled all along European seasides searching the best techniques to transcript on his watercolours and pastels the light and the light’s reflects in the sky and over the sea.
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André

Until July 27: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Crossed Beauty in Contemporary Art
Referring to the Jean Cocteau’s eponymous film (1946), Bernard Magrez, owner of four well-known Bordeaux vineyards and founder of the Bernard Magrez Cultural Institute, has organized a confrontation between 30 artworks by various contemporary artists to reflect the duality of Beauty, particularly in the connection that links the artist and his model.
Bordeaux, Gironde – 33, Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez


Until July 28: ‘Murano-Fragile’, Glass Art-Works from Renaissance to 21st Century
This unique exhibition presents the chronicle over 600 years of the art of glass-making that is born in the so small and so charming Venetian island of Murano. For centuries the techniques of Murano glassmakers was kept secret on pain of death. About 200 fabulous pieces belonging to the Medici’s time, as well as Art Déco and contemporary periods are displayed offering a large overview of the technical and stylistic evolutions in the glass history of Murano.
Paris, Musée Maillol

Until July 30: Sol Lewitt, Wall Drawings at Centre Pompidou-Metz
The Centre Pompidou-Metz presents a retrospective, unprecedented in Europe, of the American conceptual artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007). 33 black and white wall drawings by Sol LeWitt were recently executed on-site in the Centre Pompidou-Metz by students of art and architecture.
Metz, Moselle-57, Centre Pompidou-Metz.


Until August 4: Felix Ziem ‘I dreamed Beauty’, paintings and watercolours
Tireless traveller, Felix Ziem was one of the most famous watercolour painters of the 19th Century. The exhibition calls to mind all his journeys from Venise to the far Russia, and also the three places where he liked to stay, Barbizon, the Butte Montmartre and Marseille-Martigues.
Paris, Musée du Petit Palais


Until September 16: Red and Gold at the Museum Jean Cocteau in Menton, Alpes Maritimes
Turning over annually so that as many of Cocteau’s works can be seen in the museum, the new exhibition’s theme is ‘Red and Gold’, a timeliness to discover how Cocteau worked increating a theatre play. See some of his greatest interpreters like actors, Jean Marais, Edith Piaf and Jeanne Moreau.
Menton, Alpes Maritimes-06, Musée Jean Cocteau


Until November 10: Roulez Carosses!
A loan from the Palace of Versailles, to the museum of St Vaast Abbey in Arras, shows for the first time the best pieces of French royal and imperial horse-drawn carriages along with numerous artefacts belonging to their use. There are also a few paintings of important events during which these vehicles were used.
Arras, Pas-de-Calais – 59, Musée-Abbaye St Vaast


Until December 31: Marseille-Provence, 2013 European Cultural Capital
As European Cultural Capital, Marseille presents the first artistic events of a long series hosted not only by Marseille but also by Aix-en-Provence – the old city well known for its beautiful buildings and for the sweetness of its art-de-vivre. Hundreds of cultural and artistic events, theatre, street arts, music, exhibitions, are scheduled all along the year, including the exceptional creation of a new French national museum, the MUCEM, of which the opening date is June 7.
Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône-13



From April 18th to July 13: Dalou, Sculptor of the Republique
Jules Dalou was a master in sculpture of his time as Rodin, Carpeaux and Rude. Exiled nine years for political reasons in London, where he got a real renown, he came back to Paris in 1879 and then became famous in the same time for his public monumental sculptures like the ‘Triomphe de la République’ still on site at place de la Nation, and for the quality of his works for private clients, producing mainly busts and decorative artefacts. The exhibition is a large panorama of the creative spirit of Jules Dalou, with about 300 pieces exposed.
Paris, Musée du Petit Palais


From April 18th to July 13: Slovenian Impressionists in their time, 1890-1920
The Petit Palais Museum presents an overview of the creative Slovenian artists, mainly painters and sculptors, who were also in their time the spearhead of the new national feeling of the population of this little part of the Austrian Empire. A peaceful peasantry’s scene, the ‘Sower’ by Ivan Grohar began immediately the symbol of this emergent Slovenian spirit. All the works displayed testify of the artistic effervescence of this creative period.
Paris, Musée du Petit Palais


From April 24 to October 20: Gardens’ International Festival at Chaumont-sur-Loire
Coming from as far as China, Russia, Japan and Algeria about 20 new gardens were created by artists, designers, landscapers and gardeners for the 22d edition of the Festival. This year’s theme is ‘gardens of sensations’, and the visitors will enter into a fairy tale’s world of colours, smells, sounds and silences, and should not forget to visit the Castle and the Park who are also located inside the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire.
Chaumont-sur-Loire, Loire-41



Museum Louvre-Lens, the new extension of the Louvre Museum in Lens
Opened in December 12, the Louvre-Lens Museum in the city of Lens in the North of France presents in its spectacular glass building a regular turnover of masterpieces in a non-traditional way, mixing artworks from different departments of the Parisian Louvre Museum. The ‘Galerie du Temps’ with its 3000 m2 showcases more than 200 masterpieces from Antiquity to the ‘Temps Modernes’ in a panoramic and chronological vision of art through ages. Even the underground storerooms and preservation studios will be open to visitors. Nestled in 50 acres of green park and closed to the railway station where TGV easily links Lens to Belgium, Germany and UK.
Lens, Pas de Calais-62


Museum Jean Cocteau-Collection Severin Wunderman, in Menton, Alpes Maritimes
The largest in the world and a must see collection of the works of Jean Cocteau. The pieces of work were given to the town of Menton by a private collector Severin Wunderman. Every year the third of the works displayed goes back to the store-rooms, and new ones are presented to public.
Menton, Alpes Maritimes-06, Musée Jean Cocteau


Louvre Museum, New Islamic Arts Department
Last September, the Louvre Museum opened its new area dedicated to art in Islam. The former Visconti courtyard is now covered by a huge sail shaped glass roof allowing the museum to present in one place 3,000 major Islam art works. This permanent space includes the discovery of an important number of Islamic pieces of art coming from the collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
Paris, Musée du Louvre, Département des Art de l’Islam.


Alésia MuseoParc, Alise-Sainte-Reine, Côte d’Or
Right in the centre of the battlefield of Alesia that saw the final battle of the Gallic Wars with Julius Caesar’s victory against Vercingetorix, stands the new circular building of the Alesia MuseoParc. Inside, you’ll find lots of interactive explanations, a realistic and astonishing movie of the battle on a seven metres screen, and outside, an amazing life-size reconstruction of the Caesar double fortifications to help visitors to understand one of the biggest battles of Roman times.
Alise-Sainte-Reine, Côte-d’Or-21, MuséoParc d’Alésia


Museum d’Ennery, Paris
Mrs Clemence d’Ennery donated to France in 1894 her fabulous collection of more than 7,000 Chinese and Japanese artworks under strict conditions, one of which was that all of the collection should be exhibited inside her own house which she had designed as a personal orientalist museum. Closed for years for security reasons, the museum recently reopened and provides a look back into a time when the eruption of Far East Asian Art influenced European collectors and artists. (Note: booking in advance is mandatory)
Paris, Musée d’Ennery


Museum Lalique, Wingen-sur-Moser, Alsace
In the small village where over a period of 90 years René Lalique produced a large part of his work, this art nouveau and art deco artist, hundreds of his works are displayed. They highlight his incredible genius not only as probably one of the best glass artists of all time but his work as a jeweller. This very modern museum, hidden on the flank of a small green valley, is a perfect showcase for Lalique’s jewels, perfume bottles, tableware, vases, lights, crystal and drawings.
Wingen-sur Moser, Bas Rhin-67, Alsace, Musée Lalique


Museum Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi, Tarn
Inside the fabulous Palais de la Berbie, the former palace of Bishops of Albi, a UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest collection of pieces of art by Toulouse-Lautrec. It is now being displayed in a new scenography offering a new reading of each facet of the artist’s work, including his works as a youth as well as portraits of Montmartre people and scenes from the world of brothel.
Albi, Tarn-81, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec




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