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Art exhibitions in Paris, autumn-winter 2012

© The Art Institute of Chicago

From guaranteed crowd pleasers – Dali at the Pompidou, Hopper at the Grand Palais – to the quieter pleasures of Raphael at the Louvre, Canaletto at the Musée Mailllol and tea at the Guimet musem of Asian arts, Paris’s museums are pitching as hard as ever for the passing tourist trade and the local culture vultures this autumn and winter. Here’s a look at some of the season’s art shows.



  •  Dali, 21 November-25 March 2013, Pompidou Centre: A chance to see the works that have decorated a million students’ bedrooms in the original oil and canvas – or in sculpture, photo and film form. Dali was often criticised for hamming it up, liking money and taking “provocative” political positions, the organisers note, but maybe they were all part of his oeuvre. Was Salvador Dali a performance artist avant la lettre? Did he mix art with science? Will the Pompidou be able to cope with the crowds? Will the museum shop make a fortune?
Click to start the slideshow
  • Gerhard Richter, 6 June-24 September, Pompidou Centre: The artist who won notoriety with his paintings after photos of Germany’s Baader-Meinhof gang in prison is now 80 years old and a recognised modern master. From "photo-paintings" to abstraction, from grisaille and monochrome to colour charts, 160 works look back at his extraordinarily varied oeuvre … plus a lecture by art critic TJ Clark and an iPad version of the catalogue.
  • Edward Hopper, 10 October-28 January 2013, Grand Palais: Did he do other paintings apart from that one of a couple in a coffee shop at night? Yes, indeed! And here’s gallery full of moody views of gloomy streets in provincial America, tired city folks slouching through their little lives and the occasional sunlit nude. Plus Hopper lived in Paris! Not for very long but, what the hell, it’s a local link.
  • Bohèmes (Bohemias) 26 September 2012–14 January 2013, Grand Palais: You don’t get more topical than this! But one doubts the planners did it on purpose. As the French government gets in hot water over clearing Roma camps, a look at how the romantic myth of the gypsy led to the romantic myth of artistic Bohemia. Works by Van Gogh, De La Tour, Degas and its own soundtrack – gypsy jazz, Balkan beats, opera - on CD and downloadable. No absinthe in the café, however. Zut!
  • L'Art en guerre (Art at war),France 1938-1947, de Picasso à Dubuffet, 12 Octobre 2012-17 February 2013, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris: How did the thousands of artists who’d flocked to what was then the capital of modernism adapt to war, invasion and occupation? More than 400 works by more than 100 artists, including Picasso, Braque and Dubuffet, reflect the gathering gloom of the phoney war and the strictures of Nazi rule. Even materials had to change, especially in the internment camps where many found themselves, as Roger Payen’s representation of a prison cell in a matchbox illustrates (see slideshow).
Night shadows by Edward Hopper, 1962  (Grand Palais)
Night shadows by Edward Hopper, 1962 (Grand Palais) © Philadelphia museum of art
  • Chaim Soutine, 3 October-21 January 2013, Musée de l'Orangerie: The king of impasto has already been honoured by a very thorough retrospective (in 2007) and a joint show with Amadeo Modigliani (this year) at the privately run Pinacothèque de Paris. Now the state sector gets in on the picture. The 22 paintings from the beautiful Orangerie musuem’s own collection – portraits, landscapes and a lot of meat, all in the master’s distinctive tortured style – form the basis of a show that calls for a fresh look at a painter “still misunderstood in France”. 
  • Raphael, the later years, 11 October-14 January 2013, Musée du Louvre: Much later, apparently. The exhibition covers the years 1513-1524, at the end of which period the Renaissance master was already the late Raphael, having died in 1520. Perhaps his “faithful assistants” Giulio Romano and Gianfrancesco Penni feature more heavily than the show’s title might suggest.The organisers promise 100 paintings, drawings and tapestries, some never before seen in France, from the collections of nearly 40 museums.
  •   Le cercle de l'art moderne (The Modern Art Club), 19 September-6 January 2013, Musée du Luxembourg: Back in the days before Le Havre was bombed to bits in World War II, Georges Braque, Raoul Dufy and other lesser-known artists hung about the channel port. In 1906 they joined several collectors to found the Cercle de l’Art moderne. Debussy played to them, Apollinaire recited his poems, Renoir and Monet were exhibited. Ninety works, exhibited in the museum attached to the French Senate, give an idea of the collections and follow the artists’ careers.
  • Van Gogh, Dreaming of Japan and Hiroshige, Travel as art, 3 October-17 March 2013, Pinacothèque de Paris: A public raised on Maurice Pialat’s or Vicente Minelli’s films or Don Maclean’s syrupy song may find it hard to believe that Japanese art, with its “serenity’ and “interior peace”, influenced the temperamental Dutchman, the organisers worry. So they give us a chance to see some if his paintings, whose composition shows the influence of the zen masters and, in a separate show, the prints of 19th-century print giant, Hiroshige, whose work was well-known to Vincent.
A priest asking local people his way by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1838-1842 (Pinacothèque)
A priest asking local people his way by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1838-1842 (Pinacothèque) © Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden/Musée national d’Ethnologie, Leyde
  •   L'Impressionnisme et la mode, 25 September-20 January 2013, Musée d'Orsay:  The 19th-century art museum dips into its massive collection of impressionist works (again) to examine how Manet, Monet etc painted clothes.

  • Victor Baltard, 15 October - 13 January 2013, Musée d’Orsay: A look at the work of the architect who designed the cast-iron and glass structures of Paris’s Les Halles market, destroyed in one of history’s greatest acts of urban-planning vandalism in the 1970s (although one of them was transported to Nogent-sur-Marne if you want to see it).
  • Aux sources de la peinture aborigène, 9 October-20 January 2013, Musée du Quai Branly: Aboriginal artists from the Papunya community in Australia became developed a style that attracted international attention in the 1970s. Paris’s Seineside museum of non-European art  shows 160 paintings and 100 other objects in its Jean Nouvel-designed gallery.
  • Canaletto à Venise, 19 September-10 February 2013, Musée Maillol: Where else? But the organisers say this is the first time an exhibition has been entirely devoted to Canaletto’s depictions of La Serenissima. “Masterpieces from around the world”, will be on show, as well as the apparatus the painter used for a little technical help.
  • Canaletto-Guardi,14 September-14 January 2013, Musée Jacquemart-André: There are some Canalettos left, however, and 25 of them have found their way to this museum-in-a-mansion to be placed alongside that other great Venice painter, Francesco Guardi, and a few others whom you, like me, may not have hear of.
  • Alice Springs, 5 September – 4 November (dates changed), Maison européenne de la photographie: June Newton took the name of the Australian outback town as a pseudonym when her husband, world-famous photographer Helmut Newton, taught her the craft while struck down by flu in Paris in 1970. Portraits of Yves Saint-Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Billy Wilder and Diana Vreeland, not to mention Hell’s Angels, feature in a look of 40 years’ work.


Also showing:

  • Rodin, la chair, le marbre, 8 June-3 March 2013, Musée Rodin: Yet another way of looking at Rodin at the beautiful museum that used to be his Paris home.
  • Nicolas Poussin et Moïse. Histoires tissées, 22 May-1 December, Galérie Des Gobelins: The former royal tapestry works shows 10 tapestries based on paintings by French old master Nicolas Poussin and the less well-known Charles Le Brun, together for the first time since they were woven in the 1680s.
  • Autour du Chat Noir, arts et plaisirs à Montmartre (1880-1910) 13 September-13 January 2013, Musée de Montmartre: The local museum in Montmartre celebrates a 19th-century artists’ hang-out (you'll recognise the poster) with works by Toulouse-Lautrec, Vuillard, Steinlen etc with music of the place and time.
  • Le thé à Guimet - Histoire d'une boisson millénaire 3 October-7 January 2013, Musée des arts asiatiques Guimet: Everything you could want to know about the history of tea – with artworks, tastings and ceremonies – at the exquisite museum of oriental art.
  • Paris, vu par Hollywood, 13 September-15 December, Hotel De Ville De Paris: Photos, models of sets, costumes and posters from the 800+ Hollywood films that feature Paris on show at City Hall.



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