What's on in Paris in Spring/Summer 2011


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Edouard Manet
Eté 1882
©Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Exhibition from 5th April to 3rd July, 2011
Manet, the Man Who Invented Modernity
What was behind the liberated brush-strokes of Manet? What makes him the man who invented modernity, as the exhibition aims to demonstrate?
A lot more lies behind an artist’s choice of anti-conformist and unconventional aesthetics than mere technique or style.  During the 1848 revolutionary days known as the ‘second revolution’ that, under the stimulus of liberals, ended the July monarchy and proclaimed the Second Republic, Manet was 16 years old. Instead of studying law, he preferred to enter the naval academy but failed the entrance examination twice, leading his parents to agree to his pursuing an artistic career. In 1850, Manet enrolled in Thomas Couture’s painting studio.  Although Couture was known to be a conventional painter, his oil studies in the exhibition are of astonishing modernity and show that Manet did not waste his time; he did appreciate his teacher’s sincerity of expression in the sketches and small paintings. His admiration for Delacroix and intellectual affinity with Baudelaire and Mallarmé would finally forge his character and shape his art. The collective portrait of Fantin-Latour ‘Homage to Delacroix’ designated the great colorist as a beacon for modern artists and authors, amongst whom featured Manet and Baudelaire. The transgressive brush-stokes of Manet, limited by a strong drawing, echo Baudelaire’s poems, so free in content and only just held together by an outline of rhymes.  Baudelaire even joined Manet in his outdoor sketching and encouraged him to not give in to the pressure of bourgeois criticism of his modernity. Manet’s modernity, deemed so scandalous by his contemporaries in paintings such as Olympia, Christ with the Angels and ‘Déjeuner sur l’Herbe’, show his open-minded conception of life, morality and spirituality. As Zola puts it, Manet chose to tell the truth and not idealize it.
Truthfulness is what he shared both with Courbet and with Velasquez. An adventurer at heart, Manet travelled widely to Holland, Austria, Italy and Spain, and rather than emulate each concept, he accommodated them into his own style as he did with the Impressionists. The “blend of energy and sobriety” that Zola lauded in defence of the Salon-refused Fifer — an almost caricatured face of a youth in a strict uniform — are tokens of his trip to Spain. Berthe Morrisot is perhaps the only woman for whom the romantic in Manet surfaced. ‘The Balcony’ inspired by Goya’s ‘Majas at the balcony’ reveals his love of contrast in portraying Berthe Morrisot as a real disillusioned modern-day heroine, in complete detachment from the other two sketchy figures of Antoine Guillemet and Fanny Claus. The mood of the Balcony was a description of himself: the rich bourgeois-born Manet in complete rupture with the bigoted values of his time, even if he is said to never have judged his contemporaries, at least in words.

Musée d'Orsay
62, rue de Lille/1 rue de la Légion d'Honneur, Paris 7th
Metro: Musée d'Orsay or Solférino

Open: 10:00 to 18:00
Thursdays until 21:45 and Sundays from 9:00 to 18:00
Closed: Mondays
Price: 8.50 Euros (Museum + temporary exhibitions).
Photography gallery, ground floor.

Information at 33 (0)1 40 49 47 50

Jane Morris by
Dante Gabriel Rossetti © Kelmscott Manor Collection, by permission of the Society of Antiquaries of London./RMN
8th March to
29th May 2011

A Ballad of Love and Death: Pre-Raphaelite Photography in Great Britain, 1848-1875 - Orsay Museum, Paris
Under the influence of the art critic John Ruskin, the Pre-Raphaelite painters and early Victorian photographers shared a common ground that was primarily inspired by Dante, Shakespeare, Lord Byron and above all Tennyson’s idealized medieval poems. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, prominent amongst whom John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Holman Hunt and Ford Maddox Brown, tried to break away from the dictates of the Royal Academy whom they deemed corrupted by the mannerism that followed Raphael’s classical compositions.  They adopted a more modern vision that took source paradoxically in the quattrocento, defined by bright colors and detailed and precise drawing. At the same time, photographers were experimenting with wet collodion to reach a true-to-nature precision in their photos. But some portrait photographers, such as Julia Margaret Cameron, through the glass negative technique of blow-up, obtained delicate yet imprecise pictures in obvious antithesis with Ruskin’s precept.
Raphael, whose classical style was decried, was nevertheless a source of inspiration for portraitists such as Rossetti who painted forever his favorite model and hopeless love Jane Morris (married to William Morris), for whom he even directed a series of photographic sittings by Robert Parsons. But it was the death of his wife, Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, for whom he felt intense love like a Dante for Beatrice or a Petrarc for Laura that was perhaps at the origin of his wish to immortalize beauty.
The same fascination with the love-life-death trio inspired Millais’ Ophelia (one of the few occasions Rossetti’s wife Elizabeth was allowed to pose for another artist). This masterpiece of the painter became a model for Henry Peach Robinson’s photographic illustration of the‘Lady of Shalott’ by Tennyson or his famous ‘She never told her love’ exhibited in 1858 at Crystal Palace. Victorian photographers followed the Pre-Raphaelites in their choice of historical, religious subjects or illustrating modern life subjects, but around the1880’s the former Pre-Raphaelite artists, and authors such as William Morris, Burne-Jones, Whistler or Oscar Wilde transformed the movement; they moved towards a cult of ‘beauty’ and not that of ‘beauty and goodness’ as Ruskin had preached. Contemporary photographers emulated the art of painting and became the source of the ‘pictorialist’ movement, a term coined by Henry Emerson in his ‘Photography: a pictorial art’, suggesting that photography is an art in its own right. His own photos tended towards truthful naturalism defended in his ‘Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art’.

 

Musée d'Orsay
62, rue de Lille/1 rue de la Légion d'Honneur, Paris 7th
Metro: Musée d'Orsay or Solférino

Open: 10:00 to 18:00
Thursdays until 21:45 and Sundays from 9:00 to 18:00
Closed: Mondays
Price: 8.50 Euros (Museum + temporary exhibitions).
Photography gallery, ground floor.

Information at 33 (0)1 40 49 47 50

Spherical Expansion of Light by: GinoSeverini
©RMN/ADAGP/.
Muson-William-Proctor Arts Institute, Museum of Art
27thApril to
25th July 2011

Gino Severini, Futurist and Neoclassic
Gino Severini can be considered both an Italian and a French artist. "The cities to which I am strongly attached are Cortona and Paris: I was born physically in the first, intellectually and spiritually in the second."
His art embraces several artistic movements of the 19th century. From Pointillism (1905 to 1910) he moved to Futurism (1911 to 1915) and tried his hand at Cubism (1916 to 1919) and later from 1920 to 1943 he made a roundabout return to representational art. Initiated by Giacomo Balla to ‘Pointillism’, he moved to Paris in 1906 to get nearer it’s source, the Divisionist painter Georges Seurat. When in Paris, his neighbour Raoul Dufy introduced him to Scientific Divisionism. His first Divisionist works are urban views similar to the 1887 Van Goghs with a lighter touch and palette.  The ‘Pink Dancer’ is Futurist in essence and Divisionist in the rendering of the sequined dress. In 1911 he became a member of the Futurist group and one of the first to sign the manifesto of 1910.  The ‘Pan Pan Dance at Monico’ of 1912 carried the energy emblematic of the new movement, preferring to paint moving crowds, busy cities and scenes of recreation. Later on in 1914 at the invitation of Marinetti, he produced pictures of war, famous amongst which is his 1915 ‘Armoured Train’. Breaking away from Futurism in 1916, he took active part in the Cubist movement in France until 1919. Juan Gris became a friend in life and style. The still lifes with collages of real life elements subtly realized according to geometric calculations using the ‘Golden Section’ were the fruits of this epoch.  It is in this period that after many theoretic studies on the relationship between art and mathematics he published his book ‘From Cubism to Classicism’ premonitory of his move from ‘destructured’ Cubism to constructive figuration.  His figurative works ‘Jeanne’s maternity’ as well as figures inspired by harlequins and the ‘Commedia dell’arte’ of which the Montefugoni frescoes for the Sitwel family are an example of this period, show a re-construction of the real integrating the geometric and the abstract.
His mosaic work for the church of Tavannes and Saint Pierre of Fribourg is an ultimate phase of his art. He embraced vast areas of creation with an avant-garde curiosity and a mind to rationalize after methodical analysis that finally convinced him to return to representational figuration as the ‘return to order’ movement suggested.

Musée de l’Orangerie
Jardin des Tuileries
75001 Paris
Metro: Concorde
Open: every day 9:00 to18:00,
Closed Tuesdays, 1st May & 25th December
Price: 7.50 Euros
Phone: 01 44 77 80 07