What's on in Paris in Fall/Winter 2000

Stargonaut
On-Line Galler
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Browse the rooms like in real life and discover contemporary artists.
Méditerranée
Exhibition from 21st September, 2000 to 15th January, 2001
Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 3, avenue du Général Eisenhower
Paris 8th
Entrée Clemenceau,
Open: from 10:00 to 19:15
Wednesdays until 22:00
Closed: on Tuesdays, and 25th of December 2000. On 24th and 31st December will close exceptionally at 17:00 hours.
Metro: Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau or Franklin Roosvelt
Price: 50 Francs (7.62 Euros) and 56 Francs for reservation by phone .
bookings in advance:
Phone 0 892 684 694 phone between 10:00 and 13:00 hrs. Paris time, or book at l'Office du Tourisme de Paris, 127, avenue des Champs-Elysées, 78008 Paris.
Editorial Collection

The Mediterranean
From Courbet to Matisse
'The Mediterranean Sea and its Riviera has attracted some of the greatest painters of the world, amongst them Courbet, Renoir, Monet, Cézanne, Signac, Puvis de Chavannes, Bonnard, Dérain, Munch, Marquet, Matisse, Picasso, Braque and Dali. The Grand Palais has brought together ninety masterpieces on this theme from private collections and museums across the globe.'

This extraordinary exhibition is on view from 21st September 2000 to 15th January 2001, in Paris' Grand Palais.

The fascination of some of the greatest artists with the Mediterranean Sea remains a mystery. Is it the attraction of poets to the unattainable beauty? They weren't in search of the picturesque or easy composition. It is not a taste for the oriental or antiquity that attracted them to the 'Big Blue'. Some rational explanation would have the painters follow on the footsteps of writers such as Georges Sand who fell in love with the Mediterranean while staying in Toulon, or Guy de Maupassant's depiction of the Gulf of Grimaud and of Saint-Tropez.

Was it the "impossibility of painting this undefinable blue" as the author Colette put it that challenged them to try their hand at it?

Cézanne, a native of Aix-en-Provence, found refuge there to be out of range of his father's disapproval and discovered the "vegetation that doesn't change since it is mostly made up of Pine and Olive trees that keep their leaves". In his pictures the Pine trees embrace the Mediterranean blue with 'fugue' while the houses and the mountains provide solid building blocks for his post-impressionist objective masonry. The royal blue of the noble sea seen from his rugged provincial view-point at Estaque conveys far more than his theories, the complexity of his personality or the uniqueness of his mind.

"I struggle and wrestle with the sun, and what a sun... you can paint it with gold and precious stones", Monet wrote to Rodin from Antibes! Used to the rapidly changing nature of the north and it's more subtle tones, he felt worried with what he was doing: "It is so light and luminous, you just swim in the blue air. It is frightening!". But he did manage to find his element in the 'Mistral', this wind that bends the trees and chases the clouds and adds drama to the otherwise serene landscapes, perhaps too quiet for Monet's dynamic taste.

The distinctness of the Mediterranean colors, their still luxury and the sculptural vegetation were in fact a challenge for these artists who came mostly from the north. The Mediterranean scenery became the ideal laboratory for these artists of the middle of the 19th century, replacing the traditional voyage of the Romantics to Italy or the Orient.

The mysterious attraction continues with Matisse and his Mediterranean seen through the windows of his appartment in central Nice.His 1905 'La Sieste' or 'Interior with violin" show his profound interest for the window scenes that are a passage from the interior to exterior, that enigmatic passage between mind and matter. His 1869 allegory "Luxe, calme et volupté" named after Baudelaire's poem renders with perfection his view of the paradisiac 'dolce vita' of the Mediterranean Riviera where life seems to have come to a halt, where the olive trees are immortal and the sea joins heaven and earth with one 'forget-me-not' blue brush-stroke, while the clear sky allows you to see all the way to the milky way and beyond.

Was it the fragrance of the lavender or the majestic mountains? Or simply the gentleness of this melodious sea (note the magnificent and sparkling portraiture of the Mediterranean by Paul Signac). Perhaps it was the people's faces weathered like the pink rocks...But if they were patient and found the way to their hearts they may have been rewarded with the oceanic generosity of the Mediterranean.

It is, therefore, little wonder that all these artists passionately sought, cherished and portrayed the Mediterranean Sea and the culture it has engendered for centuries. And their work is shown to advantage in this exhibition organized around nine themes: discovery of the Mediterranean landscape; the shore; the rocks; the mythology; through the trees; villages; ports, fishing and sailing; luxuriance; and openings onto the sea.

Art Lovers' Paris

September/October 2000








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