What's on in Paris in Winter 2012

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Debussy, music and the arts
Musée de l’Orangerie
22nd February to
11th June 2012

Debussy, music and the arts
Claude Debussy (1862-1918) drew inspiration from symbolic and poetic art of his time.  “I love images almost as much as music”, he wrote in 1911.  He was most of all attracted to the poetic quality in artists such as Degas, Whistler, Turner, Redon and Claudel. 
His interaction with major musicians, poets and artists are evoked in the exhibition in the section dedicated to his scenic work. Examples are given of his tempestuous relationship with the author of his “Pelléas and Mélisande”, the playwright Meterlinck, as well as his “feverish” collaboration with the Italian poet D’Annunzio for the “Martyre de San Sébastien”, and his admiration for Léon Bakst the powerful decorator of Nijinsky’s ballet “l'Après-midi d'un Faune” (composed by Debussy on Mallarmé’s poem).
The exhibition puts in perspective Debussy’s work with the creative wave of his epoch in different areas showing how the resonance of his music had reached paintings such as ‘Air du soir’ of Cross, landscapes of Munch and Klimt, and decorative panels of Vuillard.  Present at ‘Mallarmé’s Tuesdays’, Debussy also became acquainted with Odilon Redon’s Symbolism and Edgar Degas’ silent music in his ballet pastel scenes, as well as the Nabis symbolist Maurice Denis with whom he collaborated on the ‘Damoiselle élue’, based on Dante Gabriele Rossetti’s poem.
The duo with Monet’s ‘Nympheas’, where Debussy’s music will be diffused in the Orangerie museum’s setting, should give the visitor a unique and unforgettable experience.

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

Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso...
The adventure of the Steins
Grand Palais
5th October 2011 to 22nd January 2012

Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso... The adventure of the Steins
The Steins, an American family who settled in France in 1903, have imprinted their seal on the French art of the 20th century not only by collecting some of the most important Post-Impressionist art, but also with their cultured vision and open mindedness. The emblem of their influence being the portrait of Gertrude Stein by Picasso, a work that is regarded as the pivotal stone towards Cubism and a turning point in modern art.
“Their naked feet wear Delphic sandals. They raise scientific foreheads to the sky.” Appolinaire wrote about the Steins in 1907.
The exhibition is arranged around the three Stein siblings and their art collection: Gertrude, the avant-garde writer who lived with her brother Leo in Paris’ rue de Fleurus, and their elder brother Michael and his wife Sarah who resided in rue Madame.
The exhibition of the amazing Stein collection, which included works by Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, Manguin, Bonnard, Vallotton, Laurencin, Gris, Masson and Picabia, explores the root of their taste, which gave them the impetus to collect modern art. It shows the importance of their dominance on the aesthetics of their epoch that they forged by sustaining those artists both morally and materially.
Leo’s analytical view of modern art, and his exchange of opinion on the sources of modernity with the intellectuals of the epoch was crucial. He preferred, however, collecting the work of the elders: Renoir, Gauguin, Degas and Cézanne. He was so attached to his Cézanne apples that when he split with Gertrude in 1913, Leo wrote to Gertrude during the division of the collection ‘The Cézanne apples have a unique importance to me that nothing can replace… you can have everything except that”.
Gertrude’s friendship with a penniless Picasso in 1906 resulted in his famous portrait of her which took 90 sittings in a laborious style that synthesized Cubism and an emulation of African art. Gertrude endured this in Picasso’s Spartan ‘bateau lavoir’ studio while Fernande Olivier, one of Picasso’s companions, read the ‘LaFontaine Fables’ to warm the gelid atmosphere and help pass the time. In the end he rubbed out Gertrude’s face and painted it again from memory.  The finished work astonished Gertrude and others to a point that Picasso is said to have claimed “you’ll see, she will end up resembling the painting”.  Less anecdotal was her poetic approach of writing and it’s influence on Cubism, a style that left out commas and indulged in cubistic rhythmic repetitions.  Her love of art made her sleep in museums, but notwithstanding her eccentricities, the likes of Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway visited her nine to midnight, although the latter stopped visiting pretending to have heard strange “moaning” while he was waiting to be received. A commentary about Gertrude’s life and collection by McBride, an art critic from the New York Sun, was that she “collected geniuses rather than masterpieces”.
Sarah’s fascination with Matisse’s art and her suggestions have paved the way that streamlined the path of modernity that many amongst the artists chose.  From late afternoon into the night Sarah, nicknamed “Sally” by Jack London, and her husband Michael Stein received Apollinaire, Man Ray and Braques who hung the paintings that virtually wall papered their walls.
They began their collection with Matisse’s Fauvist ‘woman with a hat’ which they bought at the 1905 Salon d’Automne.
The exhibition makes a chronological tour of the Stein collections in eight commented sections where the specific personality and collection of each member of the Stein family is brought to light.


Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
3 Ave du Général Eisenhower, Paris 8th
Phone: 01 44 13 17 17
Metro: Champs-Elysées Clémenceau
Every day 9:00 to 22:00
Tuesdays 9:00 to 14:00
Wednesdays: 10:00 to 22:00
Thursdays: 10:00 to 20:00
During school holidays every day:
from 9:00 to 23:00
Closed: 18, 24, 25 and 31st December
Price: 8/12 Euros
Free for children under 13

Giacometti and the Etruscans
16th September 2011
to 8th January 2012
Giacometti and the Etruscans - Pinacothèque, Paris
An artist is the recipient of culture past and present and his mission is to pass it on to future generations.  However, the search for the origins of all that may have influenced him is not what is essential in his art: it is rather what he creates and puts forward that matters, even if he uses existing material or inspiration.  In an eminent artist such as Giacometti whose work bears the hallmark of past, present and future synthesized in one (walking men), this search for influence could prove pointless. Yet one is astounded by a small Etruscan sculpture from the 3rdcentury BC (Ombra della Sera), a haunting shadow of the past whose aesthetic expression is so akin to Giacometti’s elongated sculptures called ‘The Woman of Venice’ (1956), ‘Woman standing’ or his ‘Walking Men’(1960). This spindly man who struggles to reach a goal seems to be earthbound, almost incapable of overcoming the law of gravity. With Giacometti we have the choice of seeing the elongated exaggeration of his figures as a metaphor of the human condition: subject to all sorts of impediments, he nevertheless goes forward, only to find death as his ultimate destiny.
This series of sculptures is like recurrent dreams: the series of standing women, treelike figures destabilized only at their base by an inclination as if under the burden of fruit, are highly restrained, verging on being hieratic; by contrast the nude walking men, although stuck to the ground with their big feet, are struggling forward as if enduring a long march.  A woman has no need to search for a purpose for being; she carries life in her, therefore, she is and will be. But men, these pitiful walking skeletons or 'mummies', can triumph over death only through art (this is the time that God was proclaimed dead by philosophers and scientists). The bonding of an immortal art with the finite existence of man — this ambiguous creature condemned to an absurd life and meaningless death — mirrors the same mindset and attitude to life as in his model Jean Genet, who reciprocated by writing ‘L’Atelier d’Alberto Giacometti’.
Did the Etruscan ‘Ombra della sera’ carry a hidden allegoric meaning or was it stylized for some practical function? We do seem to underestimate ‘the primitive art’ that surely had a high degree of spirituality and undeniable human feeling and artistic expressivness.  This is an art that survived for centuries to haunt Giacometti with its mysterious beauty and incredible modernity. Being an art of the pre-Christian era, it did fit with the will of the 20th century artists to discard religious subjects or inspiration.  Yet Jean Genet sees a subterranean religiosity in Giacometti’s sculptures, even a mystical one when he wrote "There is no other origin to beauty than suffering, and Giacometti wants to discover this hidden suffering". Undoubtedly the little Etruscan sculpture was pivotal in Giacometti’s aesthetic path, even if during a trip to Italy in 1920 he also discovered the Futurists as well as ancient Egyptian art, and of course the Italian Cinquecento and the Renaissance. After settling in Paris in 1922 he met with André Breton and the Surrealists and was influenced by several other artistic movements such as Cubism as well as by other sculptors such as Lipchitz, Laurens and Archipenko.  But archaic and primitive art, celebrated in Paris during the 1930s, crossed his path again at the 1955 Exhibition of Etruscan Art in Paris.  The root of so many modern movements of his time, whether philosophical or artistic, was primitive art and his visit of Volterra’s Etruscan collection in the 1960s must have sealed this conviction and transformed his art.

Pinacothèque de Paris
28, place de la Madeleine

Metro: Madeleine

Open: 10:30 to 18:30
Wednesdays & Fridays until 21:00
Price: 10 Euros

75008 Paris
Giacometti and the Etruscans
16th September 2011
to 8th January 2012

see also
Berlin-Munich 1905-1920. Der Blaue Reiter vs Brücke
13th octobre 2011 to11th March 2012

Information at 33 (0)1 42 68 02 01