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Art exhibitions in Paris, spring-summer 2013

Rmn-Grand Palais/Gérard Blot/Adagp

After winter blockbusters – Hopper at over 780,000 visitors, Dali still going – Paris’s museums have calmed down a bit in the new year. The biggest name with a solo exhibition is adoptive Parisian Marc Chagall, unless you count New Yorker Keith Haring, whose celebrity has yet to stand the test of time. Here’s a look at some of the exhibitions in Paris this spring.


Chagall entre guerre et paix, Musée Du Luxembourg, 21 February-21 July: Born to a Jewish family in Belarus in 1887, Chagall knew about war and peace, the sub-title of the exhibition. He quit the Russian empire for Paris in 1910 and survived 20th-century anti-Semitism and two world wars, fleeing to the US during the second. His paintings may have been pretty but that doesn’t mean they didn’t reflect the drama of his times. The exhibition in the stately gallery next door to the French Senate and the Jardin du Luxembourg aims to “illustrate the key moments in Chagall’s life and work”.

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REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Dali, Centre Pompidou, continues till 25 March, so you might be able to squeeze in. Then there’s … Soto, 27 February-20 May: Jesús Rafael Soto (1923-2005) a Venezuelan who came to Paris and was famous for his pénétrables, collections of hanging tubes through which the viewer can walk. Very ‘60s.

L'ange du bizarre. Le romantisme noir de Goya à Max Ernst, Musée d’Orsay, 5 March-9 June: The title namedrops Francisco de Goya and Max Ernst but, suspiciously, the museum uses a slightly dotty picture by Swiss/British über-romantic Henry Füseli in its publicity. The show promises to take us to the dark side of romanticism – the horrors of war (how much Goya will there be?), spectres, witches and demons (Fuseli, Géricault …), an awful lot of literary references and the first expressionist films. Go, you Goths!

New Frontier II. American Art Enters the Louvre. The origins of American genre painting, the Louvre, 19 January-22 April: How many titles does an exhibition need? And only the last really explanatory. The Louvre gets rugged, thanks to a partnership with three US museums. Trappers wrestle with bears, boatmen wrestle with Mississipi mud in the works of artists such as George Caleb Bingham, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait and Eastman Johnson, who won hearts and dollars by translating 19th-century American experience into the style of European genre painting.

Lucas van Leyden copper engravings, until 24 March, Petit Palais: A niche show from the great early renaissance Dutch painter and engraver. There may even be a bit of early genre to compare with the Louvre’s Americans. Plus Félix Ziem – J’ai revé le beau, 14 February-4 August 2013: French 19th-century orientalist Ziem got about a bit – Venice, Constantinople, Algiers and churned out the works for enthusiastic patrons. The Petit Palais has got hold of nearly 200 oils and watercolours, as well as sketchbooks “and one ink drawing”, which it claims “reveals a more intimate aspect of the artist, whose excessive output ultimately compromised his spontaneity”.

Les Mille Et Une Nuits, until 28 March, Institut du monde arabe: And, while we’re on the subject of orientalism, the elegant Arab world institute indulges a few Western fantasies in its look at the legacy of the Arabian Nights in art, film, poetry, as well as looking at its Indo-Persian origins and its continuation in Arab-speaking culture.

Adrian Paci. Vies en transit, 26 February-12 May, Jeu de Paume: Born in Albania, working in Italy, Paci uses his own and others’ lives as the raw material for videos, installations, paintings, photos and sculptures. Migration, globalisation, memory are his themes. Plus Laure Albin Guillot, l’enjeu classique, 26 February-12 May: Born in 1879 and dead in1962, this French female photographer snapped nudes, Paris’s historic monuments and tubes of medicinal cream. They’re all here, along with her “micrographies décoratives”, matter rendered apparently abstract through the microscope.

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Dynamo, Un siècle de lumière et de mouvement dans l’art 1913-2013, 10 April-22 July, Les Galeries nationales du Grand Palais: After Leviathan, Anish Kapoor returns to the magnificent Grand Palais but this time in the company off dozens of other abstract artists in a show that promises to look at a century of light and movement in art. A lot of lines, a lot of light. You, the spectator, are supposed to be at the centre of their works. Plus Art Paris Art Fair, 28 March-1 April, La Nef du Grand Palais: The annual contemporary art bash with Russia as guest of honour (diplomatic relations allowing).

Linder Sterling, 1 February-21 April, Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris: The artist who designed the cover for the Buzzcocks single Orgasm Addict gets the first-ever retrospective of her 40-year, Manchester-born career. An “uncompromising and unrelenting feminist approach” has gone through “ increasingly complex and sophisticated forms” not only in art but also in fashion, music and dance, organisers say.

Keith Haring, The Political Line, 19 April-18 August, Centquatre: In collaboration with Paris’s Musée d’Art Moderne, this building in north Paris, which formerly housed a funeral directors, scoops a show of the well-known US artist, who died in 1990. It is unearthing

Not to be missed
Mountains emerging from fog, Caspar David Friedrich U Edelmann, Städel Museum, ARTOTHEK

the “political” (in scare quotes in the original) aspect of his stick men waving their limbs around and will bring pictures on canvas, tarpaulins and subway walls (?) to the French capital.

Eugène Delacroix. Winter Flowers, Othoniel, Creten, until 18 March, Musée Eugène-Delacroix: Tucked away in a Left Bank back street is a museum devoted to French romantic Eugène Delacroix. A big name, of course, but this show is pretty micro, being limited to his paintings of flowers – not necessarily the great man’s USP – accompanied by works by contemporary artists Jean-Michel Othoniel and Johan Creten.

Eugène Boudin, Au fil de ses voyages, Musée Jacquemart-André, 22 March-7 July: Boudin, was one of the first artists to take his easel out of the studio to capture landscapes in situ. Camille Corot, who’s a bit more famous than him, called him the “king of skies” and he was a friend of Claude Monet, who’s a lot more famous. Celebrity aside, Boudin’s oils, pastels and water colours were a step on the road to impressionism, capturing light on beaches, seas and grazing cattle. For the first retrospective since 1889 many works have been flown in from the US as well as from the Boudin museum in Honfleur, like composer Eric Satie.

Les Macchiaioli 1850-1877, Des impressionnistes italiens?, 10 April-22 July, Musée de l’Orangerie: A look at a group of Italian painters who descended on Florence in the late 19th century and, turning their backs academicism, took to painting outdoors in a style that exploited light, shade and colour and earned the pejorative nickname of “patchers” (rough translation). So Italian impressionists – why the question mark? Well, some say they had different aims. Go and judge for yourself.

Off  the beaten track:

HEY! modern art & pop culture/Part II, 25 January-23 August, Halle St Pierre: Paris’s lively museum of outsider art, lodged in a former covered market at the foot of Sacré Coeur, continues a collaboration with the magazine HEY! to exhibit works issued from the collision of strictly non-mainstream artists with pop culture. About 60 artists “challenge the hierarchical borders that separate great art and popular culture”. In the age of Jeff Koons, you may not think those borders are still in place. Be prepared to be surprised.

Beloved Hair, Trophies and trifles, 18 September-14 July, Musée du Quai Branly: A look at hairdos from tropical forest-dwelling Papuans to Versailles-dwelling Marie Antoinette, taking in some startling urban African creations. Susan Owensby visited the show in September - listen to her report.

Sahel digital art, to 14 April, Le Comptoir Général: Digital art on your computer screen, your tablet, your phone … Here’s some from the desert, including supporters of the Tuareg rebellion in Mali. Listen to Alison Hird’s report.


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