A few weeks ago I wrote about the spectacular cave paintings in France, often said to be the origins of art. For anyone interested in the other end of the time-scale, more contemporary art, and more comfortable settings, Paris is certainly the place to visit. This year, 2010, there are some great shows on the programme for art lovers visiting Paris, including Lucian Freud, Claude Monet and even Yves Saint Laurent. And, as is always the case for Paris, not only do you get to see some great art, but it is also exhibited in some great buildings, oozing history and tradition.
The prestigious Grand Palais, a large glass exhibition hall that was built for the Paris Exhibition of 1900, is kicking off their year with a high-profile exhibition by Christian Boltanski, a French artist of 65 often said to be obsessed with death. His sculpture titled Personnes (People) features a giant crane, which he says is the finger of God, picking through mounds of old clothes to the noisy sound of heartbeats in a metaphor on destiny and death. “It will be very cold, I hope. I asked them to turn the heating off,” he said recently. “The body must feel lost. It’s part of the work.” An equally thought-provoking show at the same time, but at the Mac/Val arthouse in the suburbs, entitled Apres (After) explores the afterlife, where ghostlike creatures ask the visitor “How did you die?” or “Did you suffer?”
‘Turner And The Masters’, an exhibition which opens at Le Grand Palais in February juxtaposes paintings by the 19th century artist JMW Turner alongside older works by artists who inspired him, such as Canaletto, Rembrandt, Watteau, Titian, Poussin and Rubens. Later in the year Le Grand Palais stages an exhibition dedicated to Impressionist master Claude Monet — bringing together more than 200 of this favourite artist’s oils.
The MusÃ©e d’Orsay, which was once one of Paris’s main train stations, has some great shows lined up. Opening 19 March, until 27 June) is Crime and Punishment, which explores the aesthetics of violence. Co-curated by Robert Badinter, who as France’s Justice Minister abolished the guillotine, the exhibition will feature works from the heady post-revolutionary days of 1791 through to 1981, when France banned capital punishment. There are also exhibitions of works by the painter Meijer de Haan (1852-1895, exhibition: 15 March – 13 June) who is known from his somewhat mysterious portraits painted by his friend Paul Gauguin; Jean-LÃ©on GerÃ´me (1824 – 1904, exhibition: 19 October 2010 – 23 January 2011) and Heinrich KÃ¼hn (1866-1944, exhibition: 19 October 2010 – 23 January 2011)
In March the Pompidou Art Centre will host the first major Lucian Freud show in Paris in more than two decades. The 60 works on display will include his well known portraits and nudes, as well as his much lesser-known naturescapes and drawings.
Over 100 works of the graffiti art icon and New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, a friend of Andy Warhol’s who died aged only 28 in 1988, will be on show from October at the Paris Modern Art Museum. The first ever retrospective of Yves Saint-Laurent, who died in 2008, will be on display at the Petit Palais from March. The exhibition will feature around 300 models, drawings, documents and films at a show curated by two of France’s top fashion historians.
This year France and Russia celebrate an official year of friendship, there are cultural events throughout the country and the capital to mark this year. For example, the Louvre museum will exhibit from March to May an exhibition entitled Sainte Russie that brings together over 400 works, most of which are on loan, that tell the story of Russia’s Christian history from the 9th to the 18th century.
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