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Art exhibitions in Paris, February-September 2017

Auguste Rodin, Masque de Camille Claudel
Auguste Rodin, Masque de Camille Claudel
Text by: Tony Cross
10 min

Paris pays ample tribute to Auguste Rodin 100 years after his death, Vermeer and the genre painters throw light on Dutch interiors, Watteau and Fragonard cohabit with ecclesiatical Baroque, Karel Appel is still wild and Eli Lotar is still weird in a bumper season of exhibitions in Paris this spring and summer.


Rodin the centenary exhibition, 22 March-31 July 2017, Grand Palais. Nowadays you get celebrated on the centenary of your death as well as your birthday - if you put your imprint on history, that is - and the giant of late 19th-century sculpture surely deserves to be fêted as often as possible. Paris obviously has to make a special effort to mark the occasion. Auguste Rodin looked back to Michelangelo and classical sculpture, while opening the door to 20th-century art. The Grand Palais shows 200 of the master’s works plus some by just a few of the artists he has influenced – Brancusi, Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti, Beuys, Baselitz and Gormley.

The Rodin museum's packaged mini-Kiss
The Rodin museum's packaged mini-Kiss

Rodin Kiefer, 17 March-22 October, Musée Rodin. The Grand Palais show leaves the poor old Musée Rodin, which has presumably supplied many of the works for the blockbuster, playing second fiddle. Its website puts on the Ritz, with a guide to centenary exhibitions all over the world and excitable announcements of the creation of a two-euro coin (“Rodin in everyone’s pocket!”), a LOVE (shouldn’t that be Luurve?) evening on St Valentine’s Day and a special offer of a miniature reproduction of the luurvely Kiss, complete with kitschy packaging. Oh, and there’s a show. The charming little museum near Les Invalides invites German artist Anselme Kiefer, now installed in the south of France, to do whatever he wants in the exhibition hall. Promises to be interesting.

Johannes Vermeer, The Lacemaker
Johannes Vermeer, The Lacemaker

Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting, 22 February-22 May, Louvre. The Louvre strikes a slightly more sober note with a show of Dutch interiors. Johannes Vermeer’s extraordinary treatment of light, colour and domestic subject matter takes centre stage but the show seeks to portray him not as an isolated genius but as a competitor, inspirer and admirer of other artists of the Golden Age of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, Gerard ter Borch, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, for example.

Gardens, 15 March-24 July 2017, Grand Palais. Back at the palaces there’s a look at six centuries of garden-related creation, taking the form of a stroll round the grounds and showing paintings, sculptures, drawings, photos, designs and installations by artists from Dürer to contemporary conceptualist Wolfgang Laib. From the great Moghuls to the Maharajahs, 29 March-5 June 2017, Grand Palais, looks at Indian jewellery.

Slideshow: Boucher, Vermeer, Rodin, Lotar, Van Gogh, Kiefer ... What's on in Paris

Watteau to David, la Collection Horvitz, 21 March-9 July 2017, Petit Palais. The Petit Palais looks at two different aspects of French 18th-century art. Downstairs are works from America’s most well-endowed collection of French drawings with works by sybarites such as Fragonard, Watteau and Boucher – the promotional material leads on Miss O'Murphy’s buttocks - while upstairs La Baroque des Lumières, 21 March-16 July 2017, shows artworks from Parisian churches of the time, although sensuality doesn’t seem to have been completely banished thanks to soft-focus cherubs disporting themselves among the saints. 

Sérénissime! Venise en fête, de Tiepolo à Guardi, 25 February-25 June 2017, Musée Cognacgq-Jay. The 18th century in the Serenissima Repubblica de Venezia is illustrated at the Cognacq-Jay, thanks to works by Tiepolo, Longhi, Guardi and others. How they loved to party on the lagoon back then! Music, dance, opera, theatre, receptions for visiting potentates and, of course, the carnival were at their apogee in Venice’s last golden age, which was terminated by Napoleon in 1797.

Camille Pissarro, La Cueillette des Pommes (detail)
Camille Pissarro, La Cueillette des Pommes (detail)

Pissarro in Eragny, 16 March-9 July 2017, Musée du Luxembourg. Thanks to a loan from Claude Monet, Camille Pissaro bought a house in the Normandy village of Éragny-sur-Epte in 1884 and stayed there until his death in 1903. During that period he painted in the pointilliste style of Signac and Seurat but then returned to impressionism. With plenty of rural labour going on around him, Pissarro had a chance to reflect his anarchist politics in his work.

Beyond Stars. The Mystical Landscape from Monet to Kandinsky, 14 March-25 June 2017, Musée d’Orsay. The Orsay seeks to connect with an order beyond physical appearances … through physical appearances - in this case works by French symbolists like Maurice Denis and some of their mystically inclined contemporaries, such as Van Gogh, Gauguin, Klimt and Munch. The show being a collaboration with the Ontario Art Gallery, there are also 20th-century Canadian artists, such as Lawren Harris, Tom Thomson and Emily Carr.

Karel Appel, 24 February-20 August 2017, Musée d’Art Moderne. Dutch artist Karel Appel was a member of the wonderfully named CoBra group, founded in Paris in 1948. Like Jean Dubuffet’s Art Brut movement they aimed to rough up post-war art with a bit – well lots, actually – of spontaneity, experiment and primitivism. CoBra dissolved three years later but Appel and his colleague Asger Jorn raged on. The Paris city modern art museum has received a donation of 21 works from the Karel Appel Foundation in Amsterdam and is celebrating with a view of his career, culminating in a “little-known painting-testament” executed just before his death in 2006.

Eli Lotar, Aux Abattoirs de La Villette
Eli Lotar, Aux Abattoirs de La Villette

Eli Lotar, 14 February-28 May 2017, Jeu de Paume. Romanian-born photographer and filmmaker Eli Lotar is honoured in his country of adoption by a show of his surrealist-influenced work in the Tuilieries. His ability to find the eerie in banal situations still surprises.

Tokyo-Paris Masterpieces from Bridgestone Museum of Art, Collection Ishibashi Foundation, 5 April-21 August 2017, Musée de l’Orangerie. After the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s reprise of the Shchukin collection, the Musée de l’Orangerie stresses the collectors rather than the artists with a show of works bought by the Ishibashi industrial dynasty, of the Bridgestone tyre company. Our passion for burning the rubber allowed them to collect over 2,600 works – Monets, Caillebottes, Cézannes, Matisses, Picassos, Pollocks – and house them in a specially built museum in the heart of Tokyo.

From Zurbaran to Rothko, 3 March-10 July 2017, Musée Jacquemart-André. Another collector, this time Alicia Koplowitz, whose immaculate taste ranged from classical antiques to Louise Bourgeois via Goya, Picasso, Modigliani, Schiele and many more.

21 rue de la Boétie, 2 March-23 July 2017, Musée Maillol. Collector and dealer, Paul Rosenberg (1881-1959), has been written up by his granddaughter, Anne Sinclair, who happens to be Dominique Strauss-Kahn's ex-wife and is a well-known TV presenter and journalist in her own right. Rosenberg helped 20th-century Paris school greats such as Picasso, Léger, Braque and Matisse, on their artistic upwards trajectory. Being Jewish, he was forced to flee Paris in 1940. Those works that he had not sent abroad in anticipation of the disaster were looted by the Nazis, many branded “degenerate” and sold for foreign currency. Some of them are still missing.

African Routes
, Musée du Quai Branly, 31 January-12 November 2017. Chinese porcelain from Madagascar, Candomblé cults in South America … Paris’s non-European art museum aims to show that Africa does have history – touché Nicolas Sarkozy – and that it has been in contact with the world for thousands of years. Primitive Picasso, 28 March-23 July 2017, follows a well-trodden, if fascinating, road – Picasso’s relationship with the arts of Africa, Oceania, the Americas and Asia through his personal collection and a comparison with works by non-Western artists.

Art/Afrique, Mid-April-28 August 2017, Fondation Louis Vuitton. If you were thrilled by the Fondation Cartier’s Beauté Congo last year, which you should have been, you should love Les Initiés – works collected by businessman Jean Pigozzi since 1989 - Etre là – a look at the South African contemporary art scene – and Africa in the Fondation Louis Vuitton Collection – work by African-American artists and artists working outside their country of origin.

  • Zimoun, 25 March-6 August 2017, Centquatre;
  • Topor, à tombeau ouvert, 28 March-16 July 2017, Bibliothèque Nationale de France;
  • Shoah at bande dessinée, 19 January-30 October, Memorial de la Shoah
  • Autophoto, 19 April-1 October 2017, Fondation Cartier.
  • Musée Camille Claudel opens at Nogent-sur-Marne, 26 March 2017;
  • Long Night of Museums Nuits de musées, 20 May 2017;
  • Art Paris Art Fair 2017, 17 March-2 April 2017, Grand Palais.


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