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Art exhibitions in Paris, October 2018 - January 2019

Birds and insects, Joan Miro
Birds and insects, Joan Miro Grand Palais

Playful, colourful but with an underlying serious intent, Catalan artist Joan Miro's work is the subject of a major exhibition in Paris this winter. Also from Barcelona - Pablo Picasso, who's at no less than three museums. Plus Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, Austrian Egon Schiele, American Jean-Michel Basquiat and, going further back in time, Caravaggio in Rome and various artists in Venice.


Joan Miro, 3 October 2018 - February 2019, Grand Palais. With Catalonia in the news, one of its greatest artists, Joan Miro, is at the Grand Palais. Nearly 250 paintings, sculptures and drawings are on show. He hung out with the Paris-based surrealists but developed a style that was all his own, creating a vocabulary of personal symbols for his brightly coloured paintings and ceramics. At first glance his works are playful and full of joy but there’s a darker undercurrent that adds depth.

Venice at the Grand Palais trailer

Also at the Grand Palais: Magnificent Venice, 24 September 2018 – 21 January 2019. Tiepolo, Canaletto, Vivaldi, Farinelli, Bordoni – the early 1700s were Venice’s cultural golden age, although things went down the canal later in the century. This show seems to be a little wide-ranging but the Grand Palais is sufficiently proud of it to issue a fast-paced promotional video. Michael Jackson: On the Wall, 23 November 2018 – 14 February 2019. In politics, this would be called populism – a show that “explores the cultural impact of Michael Jackson’s stardom and musical work on the world of contemporary art from the 1980s to the present day”. Warhol, for example, although Jeff Koons’s Michael Jackson and Bubbles is, thankfully, absent.

Acrobat with a ball, Pablo Picasso
Acrobat with a ball, Pablo Picasso Musée d'Orsay

Picasso. Blue and Rose, 18 September 2018 - 6 January 2019, Musée d’Orsay. A crowd-pleaser if ever there was one –Picasso’s moody harlequins and extra-pink nudes from 1900-1906 are shoe-horned into the Orsay’s remit “under the prism of his belonging to the nineteenth century”, as its website explains.

Seated Harlequin, Pablo Picasso
Seated Harlequin, Pablo Picasso Kunstmuseum Basel

Picasso. Masterpieces! 4 September 2018 – 13 January 2019, Musée Picasso. The Picasso museum has managed to hang onto at least one rose-period harlequin and features it on the poster for a show that boasts “some of [Picasso’s] greatest works, some of which will be shown in Paris for the first time”.

Le Petit déjeuner, Juan Gris
Le Petit déjeuner, Juan Gris Centre Pompidou

Cubism, 17 October 2018 - 25 February 2019, Pompidou Centre. There’s Picasso again at the Pompidou, but in the more demanding cubist period. The austere style he forged along with Georges Braque, Juan Gris and others put the modern in modernism, accommodating painting to a fast-moving world where photography took over the (relatively) literal portrayal of reality. It’s still surprising when you realise that this daring formal adventure started in 1907, to finish about 10 years later, bringing techniques like collage into the galleries and paving the way for abstraction.

The Forest, , Alberto Giacometti
The Forest, , Alberto Giacometti Fondation Giacometti, Paris © Succession Alberto Giacometti

Giacometti, 14 September 2018 - 20 January 2019, Musée Maillol. The Swiss artist best-known for his long, thin, tortured-looking sculptures shares space with contemporaries and predecessors, including host-artist Aristide Maillol. For those who remember the Giacometti blockbuster at the Pompidou a bit of variety among the big-footed stick men is welcome. It allows the real virtues of his sculptures to be apparent and the few drawings on the walls illustrate what a great draughtsman he was. One of the guest artists – represented by just one work – is Germaine Richier, an almost exact contemporary of Giacometti, who is far less well-known. In an age with a penchant for saving women artists from obscurity, can we expect a full-on exhibition of her work any time soon?

Judith Beheading Holofernes, Caravaggio
Judith Beheading Holofernes, Caravaggio © Gallerie Nazionali di Arte Antica di Roma. Palazzo Barberini F

Caravaggio in Rome, 14 September 2018 - 20 January 2019, Musée Jacquemart-André. A habitual street-brawler who fled Rome after being convicted of murder, was jailed in Malta but escaped and finally died on his way back to the Eternal City, the painter of "full-lipped, languorous boys”, as one critic put it, is due for a biopic. The life-story aside, the art is extraordinary. Actually, only about half of the paintings here are by Caravaggio himself and of the guests only Jose de Ribera and Annibale Caracci are anywhere near as good. But what Caravaggios! A rosy, naked adolescent Saint John before-becoming-the-Baptist being ogled by a ram, Saint Jerome in a chiaroscuro old age and Judith taking special care not to splash her dress while beheading Holofernes in a portrayal that brings to mind the French word “castratrice”.

Scavenger, Paula Rego
Scavenger, Paula Rego Musée Maillol

The cruel stories of Paula Rego, 17 October 2018 - 14 January 2019, Musée de l'Orangerie. The title suffers in translation but here is one of those women artists whose reputation has now caught up with her male contemporaries - Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and David Hockney in her case. Her figurative work reflects female experience, as well as referring to her Portuguese origins, in unforgettable images that mix the literary with folk references and personal drama. She is afforded the honour of an exhibition in the beautiful Orangerie on the Tuileries gardens and it promises to be a real treat.

Riding with death, Jean-Michel Basquiat
Riding with death, Jean-Michel Basquiat © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Egon Schiele, 3 October 2018 – 14 January 2019, Fondation Louis Vuitton. Two separate exhibitions of painters who both died young. Basquiat’s high-end graffiti have been frantically fashionable since he was taken under Andy Warhol’s wing in the 70s. They are now riding the crest of the art-market wave, their value at auction having risen 1,880 percent since 2000. Schiele goes back a bit further – to turn-of-the-20th-century Vienna, where psychoanalysis was born and the Austro-Hungarian empire was decaying. There are 110 of his agonisedly erotic nudes, self-portraits and cityscapes at the Vuitton flagship.

Sarah Bernhardt, Alfons Mucha
Sarah Bernhardt, Alfons Mucha Fondation Mucha, Prague

Alfons Mucha, 12 September 2018 – 27 January 2019, Musée du Luxembourg. There are more echoes of the declining Austro-Hungarian empire at the museum by the Luxembourg gardens, too. As well as designing art-nouveau posters, magazine covers and illustrations in Paris, Moravian-born Mucha was a cultural nationalist committed to Slav cultural revival. Should do wonders for takings in the museum shop.

Poster for Madagascar
Poster for Madagascar Musée de Quai Branly

Madagascar, 18 September 2018 – 1 January 2019, Musée du Quai Branly. Art from the melting-pot island off the coast of Africa. Sculptures, paintings, photographs, furniture, jewellery and contemporary art that show the influence of centuries of arrivals from the Middle East and south Asia as well as the continent next door.

Poster for Persona Grata
Poster for Persona Grata MacVal

Persona Grata, 16 October2018 – 20 January 2018, Musée National de l’Histoire de l’Immigration and MacVal. As crowded boats sink in the Mediterranean and activists are prosecuted for helping migrants enter France, the newly opened immigration museum joins the contemporary art museum in nearby Val-de-Marne to show works on exile, hospitality and rejection. Among them, a French flag whose paint never dries and a documentary on Calais.

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