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Art exhibitions in Paris, September 2015-January 2016

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), Le verrou (the lock).
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), Le verrou (the lock). © Rmn-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Daniel Arnaudet

There’s sex next door to the Senate, over 100 Warhols at the Paris modern art museum, Picassomania at the Grand Palais, Wilfredo Lam at the Pompidou, the Louvre looks into its crystal ball and the Year of Korea at some smaller museums in the Paris art exhibitions that see out 2015.


Fragonard in love, suitor and libertine, Musée du Luxembourg, 16 September 2015-24 January 2016. Sexy stuff at the museum by the Luxembourg gardens. Jean-Honoré Fragonard was the most notoriously saucy artist of the notoriously saucy 18th century. There’s carnality in the countryside, sensuality in the salons, and Useless Resistance in the bedroom (it’s a pillow fight, actually). Of course, all this is connected to philosophy, literature and the Enlightenment meeting English sensualism (say what?). Véhrrry Frrrench.

Splendour and Misery. Pictures of Prostitution, 1850-1910. Musée d’Orsay, 22 September 2015-17 January 2016. More sex, this time of a commercial kind. Manet, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Munch, Picasso and19th-century Salon painters depicted the “splendour” of high-class demi-mondaines and the “misery” of street-walkers, according to the Orsay. This is the “irst major show on the subject of prostitution”, it boasts.

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Andy Warhol en New York (1964). © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./ADAGP

Warhol Unlimited, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2 October 2015-7 February 2016. Paris’s modern art museum may be a bit overshadowed by the flashy and centrally situated Pompidou Centre but it’s fighting back bravely with a show of 200 works by none other than Andy Warhol. It includes the first European showing of Shadows, 102 silkscreens executed in 1978-79 that will cover 130 metres of wall, in its entirety. But they’re not art, according to their creator, "You see, the opening party had disco. I guess that makes them disco décor." They’re supplemented by some old stand-bys - some Electric Chairs, some Jackies, some Flowers and a few Maos.

Picasso Mania 07 Octobre 2015 - 29 Février 2016, Grand Palais, Galeries nationales. Staying with the big names, the Grand Palais has Pablo Picasso … but not so much works by the man himself as other artists “responding” to him. As well as Warhol, they include Number One Picasso Fan David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Roy Lichtenstein. Also at Grand Palais Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842), 23 September 2015-11 January 2015. Although the organisers say she was the equal of Quentin La Tour and Jean-Baptiste Greuze, nobody has ever got round to organising a retrospective of Marie-Antoinette’s official painter in France until now. The show goes on to New York and Ottawa after Paris.

Suzanne Valadon, Maurice Utrillo, André Utter, à l’atelier 12, rue Cortot, 1912-1926, Musée de Montmartre. 16 October 2015-15 February 2016. Talking of undervalued women artists, Suzanne Valadon, an artist’s model who became a painter herself under the tutelage of Edgar Degas, shares a show with her husband, André Utter, and her (perhaps at one time overvalued, now rather ignored) son, Maurice Utrillo at the charming little museum in the heart of Bohème-turned-bourgeois Montmartre.

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Pablo Picasso - Mousquetaire assis tenant une épée (1969). © Succession Picasso 2015/photo Béatrice Hatala

Fantastique! L’estampe visionnaire de Goya à Redon, Musée du Petit Palais, 1 October 2015-17 January 2016. Over the road, the little palace is fantastic, in the sense of fantasy. Prints from the French national library’s collection by masters such as Goya, Delacroix, Redon and Doré portray imaginary beasts, weird landscapes, dreams and nightmares (you can count on Goya for them). The triumph of noir, the organisers claim.

Wilfredo Lam, Centre Pompidou, 30 September 2015-15 February 2016. Cuban modernist Wilfredo Lam, one of the few Latin American artists to win a truly international reputation in the 20th century, gets a retrospective at the Pompidou. More than 400 works show off his style, in which Picasso meets the Afro-Cuban legacy. Lam died in Paris in 1982. Also at the Pompidou Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, 23 September 2015-1 February 2016. Video, photographs, space installations from an influential figure on today’s art scene.

Séoul-Paris-Séoul, les artistes coréens en France, Musée Cernuschi, 16 October 2015-2 February 2016. This year is the Year of Korea in France, although you wouldn't think it to look at the big museums. But the elegant museum of Asian art shows the work of pioneers of modern art in South Korea and that of others working today.

Korea Now ! Design, craft, mode et graphisme en Corée, Musée des Arts décoratifs.
19 September 2015-3 January 2016. The decorative arts museum does the same for Korean design, fashion and graphics.

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Chéri Samba, "Picasso" (2000). © Chéri Samba

A brief history of the future, Musée du Louvre, Hall Napoléon. 24 September 2015-4 January 2016. Jacques Attali is something of a polymath. He’s advised president François Mitterrand, run the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and written over a dozen books (where does he find the time?). One of those books, A brief history of the future inspired this exhibition, which asks contemporary artists, including current art star Ai Wei Wei, to react to “noteworthy works from different eras” look at empires, world orders and the “polycentric world we live in today”. Sounds fun, in a heavy-duty intellectual sort of way. 

Chefs-d’œuvre d’Afrique. Dans les collections du musée Dapper, Musée Dapper, 30 September 2015-17 July 2016. The museum boasts that it has some of the most important works of African art in its collection and it has brought them out of the basement for this show. They are remarkable for their quality, variety of provenance and age, the organisers say. Masks, statues, altars, weapons, artefacts used in initiation ceremonies, in honouring ancestors or in fertility rites will be displayed.  

Sepik - Art from Papua New Guinea, Musée du Quai Branly, 27 October 2015-31 January 2016. Over 200 sculptures from the north of PNG, where humans have lived in the Sepik valley since the first millennium BCE, pay tribute to the ancestors in both public and “secret” ways.

  • Villa Flora. Les Temps enchantés, Musée Marmottan. 10 September 2015-7 January 2016. Works by Bonnard, Cézanne, Giacometti, Maillot, Matisse and many more, who hung out in this Swiss village.
  • Florence. Portraits à la Cour des Médicis, Musée Jacquemart-André. 11 September 2015-25 January 2016 Portraits from 16th-century Florence by Pontormo, Bronzino, Salviati …
  • Hey! modern art & pop culture/Act III, Halle Saint Pierre 18 September 2015-13 March 2016. The third in a series of shows at Paris’s museum of outsider art.
  • Fiac, 21-25 October 2015. Paris’s huge modern art fair takes over the Grand Palais and the Champs Elysées.


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