Letter from France: May 2014

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
the Roman games in Nimes

the Roman games in Nimes

Special events

May 17-18: The Great Roman Games in the Arena of Nimes

For the 5th year,the well-preserved Roman amphitheatre of Nimes hosts the Great Roman Games, with gladiator fights and chariot races before an amazing historical reconstruction of the battle of Phillipi that saw the victory of Augustus and Antony’s legions over the armies of Brutus and Cassius, the murderers of Caesar.

Nîmes, 30-Gard, Les Arènes deNîmes. www.arenes-nimes.com

May 31-June 1: VitiLoire, wine-fair in Tours

During this weekend, the charming city of Tours on the Loire Valley will host VitiLoire, the huge wine-fair with around 150 wine growers from the region presenting their best Loire Valley wines for tastings and sale. The whole city centre will be filled with wine-makers stalls and open-air restaurants. For only €5 (£4) you get an engraved glass and then, with this glass, tasting is free!

Tours, 37-Indre-et-Loire, city centre.  www.vitiloire.tours.fr

a wooden shield from New Guinea

a wooden shield from New Guinea

June 4-8: BRUNEAF XXIV, the African-Oceanian-Indonesian Art Fair in Brussels (Belgium)

In the Sablons, that well-known antique dealers district in Brussels, the 24th BRUNEAF – the amazing Art Fair which attracts worldwide collectors and lovers of African, Oceanic and Indonesian arts – occurs. At the same time (June 4 to 15) BRUNEAF presents at the MRAC (Royal Museum of Central Africa) an exceptional exhibition of New Guinea art including many pieces belonging to the MRAC collections.

Brussels, Belgium: www.bruneaf.com

Ending soon

Until May 18: “Holy Wood”

Through the presentation of very rare wooden masks from the Toma people, the Quai Branly museum presents, for the first time, the Poro, the initiation system that ruled the tribes of the Guinean forests. The Poro gave a huge and frightening power to the initiates who were in charge of the masks.

Paris, Musée du Quai Branly: www.quaibranly.fr

Until May 18: The “Black Atlantic” of Nancy Cunard

Nancy Cunard, heiress of the Cunard Line, was an eccentric young woman, muse of great writers, model, journalist, political activist and publisher. In the thirties with her surrealist friends she became a great defender of racial civil rights and of general African art. This exhibition highlights her life and also calls to mind the political, social and artistic history of the black diaspora in Europe at that time.

Paris, Musée du Quai Branly: www.quaibranly.fr

Until June 1st: Diderot’s Taste in Art (in Lausanne, Switzerland)

This exhibition in Lausanne (Switzerland), presents a great number of paintings and sculptures from the time of Diderot with the notes and criticisms he wrote about. This work made him one of the first art critics in history. A little known fact was that, for many years, he was also in charge of commissions to provide Catherine II of Russia with the best collection of paintings.

Lausanne, Switzerland, Fondation de l’Hermitage: www.fondation-hermitage.ch

French lacquer work

French lacquer work

Until June 8: The Secrets of the French Lacquer

At the Musée des Arts décoratifs, a great exhibition is dedicated to French lacquer in the 18th Century. After the import of lacquered pieces from Japan and China, enabled  people in the west to discover the real secret of Asian lacquer, European craftsmen worked to imitate the lacquer effects. The French “Martin glaze” became the most amazing one, offering the largest palette of colours. Primarily used for furniture, this was also used to decorate anything from the smallest things like snuffboxes to the biggest ones such as royal carriages. Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs


Until June 9: Beauty in Antiquity (in Martigny, Switzerland)

The Pierre Gianadda Foundation, in close collaboration with the British Museum which has loaned some of its master Greco-Roman pieces including the famous Discobolus, presents an eclectic exhibition to extol the bodies’ beauty in antiquity’s art. Sports, love and desire, wedding and death are some of the ten themes depicted by these amazing stone, bronze or marble statues that fit perfectly with the location of the exhibition, in Martigny, the antique capital of this Roman region. Two beautiful marble torsos, recently excavated in Martigny, are also displayed.

Martigny, Switzerland, Fondation Pierre Gianadda; www.gianadda.ch

Until June 16: Clemenceau, the Tiger and Asia

Known as “the Tiger” or as “the Father of Victory”, Georges Clemenceau remains in history as a great statesman and a war leader. Less well-known was that he was also a great Asian collector with a genuine passion for the arts, civilizations and religions of Asia, a passion shared with his close friend the painter Claude Monet. This exhibition will feature the Clemenceau’s collection.

Paris, Musée Guimet: http://www.guimet.fr

Until June 30: “Star WarsTM Identities: The Exhibition”

Presented for the first time in Europe, the STAR WARSTM Identities exhibition provides an interactive journey into the world of the saga in a unique location: the Cité du Cinéma. Two film sets of approximately 2000 square metres which have been turned into an exhibition location, are opened to the public to reveal more than 200 original pieces from the archives of the Lucas Arts Museum: models, accessories, costumes, sketches all of which constructed the Star Wars world.

Paris-Saint Denis, Cité du Cinéma: http://la-cite-du-cinema.eu

Running now

Until July 6: “Impressionists in Private: 100 Masterpieces from Private Collections”

The Marmottan Museum, celebrates its 80th birthday by paying tribute to the long list of private donors who have offered it the world’s largest collection of Monet works. 50 private collectors have provided 100 impressionist masterpieces, many of them have never been seen in public.

Paris, Musée Marmottan: http://www.marmottan.fr/uk

Augustus posterUntil July 13: I, Augustus, Roma Imperator…

To celebrate the second millennium of the death of Augustus, the first and greatest emperor of Rome, the Grand Palais hosts a huge exhibition of the best art pieces from the collections of the Louvre Museum and of the Capitolio Museum in Rome. His time was the beginning of Rome’s Golden Age.

Paris, Musée du Grand Palais: www.grandpalais.fr

Until July 14: Initiates from Congo Bassin

Initiations through secret societies in Africa were often necessary to change positions inside tribes or to transit from childhood to adult world. The rites of passage needed the use of numerous artworks, statues, masks, costumes, head-dresses and protective objects, of which a large selection are presented in this amazing exhibition.

Paris, Musée Dapper: www.dapper.fr

Until July 20: The Treasure of Naples, The Jewels of San Gennaro

For the first time outside Italy, the jewels of San Gennaro will be presented be on public view. This is one of the biggest collection of jewels in the world, equivalent to the crown jewels of France or the UK. This collection belongs neither to the Italian state or to the Catholic Church but the people of Naples.

Paris, Musée Maillol: www.museemaillol.com

Until July 20: Plains Indians

The symbolic scenography by Jean-Michel Wilmotte reveals the everyday life of Plains Indians as well as their strong links to nature through the display of aesthetic artefacts, belonging to Sioux, Comanche, Pawnee, Blackfoot or Cheyenne tribes.

Paris, Musée du Quai Branly: www.quaibranly.fr

Until July 27: “Les Fêtes Galantes” from Watteau to Fragonard

With around sixty fabulous paintings, this exhibition shows the whole history of the ‘Fêtes Galantes’, a new groundbreaking style developed by Watteau in the early years of the 18th C., depicting in idyllic scenes the charming games of love. Watteau’s followers, Pater, Lancret  or Saint-Aubin introduced in their scenes a few touches of reality whilst others, like Vernet, sometimes used paintings to show exotic characters. Finally the ‘Fêtes Galantes’  – after a century of success – ended in a blaze of glory with Boucher and Fragonard.

Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André: www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com

Until July 27: Gobelins Royal Manufactory in the Age of Enlightenment

During that period which was the golden age of the French tapestry, the Gobelins Royal Manufacture became  the leading one in Europe, producing more than forty different series of tapestries in less than one century. Many great painters of the time including Boucher, Van Loo, Coypel and Oudry created the gigantic tapestry cartoons needed, of whom some will be on display with thirty tapestries being chosen for their exceptional state of preservation.

Paris, Galerie des Gobelins: www.mobiliernational.culture.gouv.fr

Volubilis BronzeUntil August 25: Splendours of Volubilis, Antic Bronzes

At the beginning of 1st Century AD, Volubilis, capital of King Juba II was the most beautiful city of the Roman Northern Africa. Found in the ruins of Volubilis, this collection of high quality bronzes, now belonging to Morrocco, shows how in antiquity, bronzes were travelling through the whole Roman empire.

Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône-13, MUCEM: www.mucem.org

Until August 31: Once upon a time was the Orient Express

The history of the Orient Express train which linked Western Europe to Middle East, evokes fabulously luxury journeys for the upper echelons of society. SNCF – the French railway company – has loaned a locomotive, 3 original carriages and a dining car from the Orient Express to be displayed in the middle of the IMA museum courtyard. And inside the museum the exhibition of objects, documents, poster, photos or short movies remembers the importance of this train creating a “desire of Orient” and opening the way to huge scale tourism.

Paris, IMA, Institut du Monde Arabe; www.imarabe.org

Until September 21: Mapplethorpe-Rodin

For the first time an exhibition brings to life the similarities of two artists who, at first sight, had really nothing in common. Rodin was a sculptor, Mapplethorpe a photographer. Rodin loved women, and Mapplethorpe was attracted to men. And Mapplethorpe was born more than a century after the birth of Rodin. But the exhibition of a selection of 50 sculptures by Rodin and a hundred photos by Mapplethorpe, shows the incredible connection between their works. The two artists have a same vision of the beauty of form of the human body, male or female and the same ideas of perfection.

Paris, Musée Rodin: www.musee-rodin.fr

dragonflies by Lalique

dragonflies by Lalique

Until November 11: The Aquatic World of René Lalique

The new exhibition in the René Lalique Museum presents more than 120 art pieces from Lalique including drawings, jewels, glass and crystals pieces showing how the aquatic fauna and flora has inspired the creativity of the artist who represented in his master pieces as well fishes, dragonflies, seaweeds and frogs, as imaginary beings, mermaids, nymphs or fairies.

Wingen-sur-Moder, 67-Alsace, Musée Lalique: www.musee-lalique.com

Until 2015 January 5: Klimt and Vienna at the Quarries of Lights

Inside the fabulous underground quarries of Baux de Provence the theme of the amazing lightshow, chosen this year, is Klimt and Vienna, offering visitors a tremendous vision of a “century of gold and colours”. A great soundtrack comes with the thousands pictures of masterpieces by Gustav Klimt and also by Egon Schiele and Fridenreisch Hundertwasser whom works have been inspired by Klimt. For spectators it’s an impressive dive inside the world of the artists, the paintings being casted all around onto every wall and even onto the ground.

Baux de Provence, 13-Bouches-du-Rhône, Carrières de Lumières: www.carrieres-lumieres.com

Until 2015 October 18: “Tattoo-makers, Tattooed”

An exhibition that explores the almost unknown universe of tattooing with more than 300 pieces showing its ancestral use through ages and countries, showing its two main aspects, beauty in body-art and symbol of a societal membership.

Paris, Musée du Quai Branly: www.quaibranly.fr

New and permanent

Musée Soulages in Rodez

On May 31, the Musée Soulages will open as the first museum dedicated to a living artist, Pierre Soulages who is 93 years old. More than 500 pieces and documents have been donated by the artist and his wife Colette. The collection is centred on the creation of the amazing stained-glass windows of Conques and on his printed works. The first exhibition, lasting until October 5, will gather 30 “Outrenoir(s)” coming from the main museums and art foundations, and personally chosen by the artist himself.

Rodez, 12-Aveyron, Musée Soulages: www.musee-soulages.grand-rodez.com









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