Rethinking Monet’s “Water Lilies”

French impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926) once said “My finest masterpiece is my garden.” He was referring of course to his garden in Giverny, where for thirty years he painted his famous “Water Lilies” (Nymphéas) exhibited at Paris’ Musée de l’Orangerie. The eight monumental panels—which Andre Mason called “The Sistine Chapel of Impressionism” —were commissioned by Paris and installed after the artists death in 1927. Now, the museum is hosting a new temporary exhibition “Water Lilies. American Abstract Painting and the Last Monet” (to August 20, 2018). Continue reading “Rethinking Monet’s “Water Lilies””

Delacroix Louvre Retrospective

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) is one of France’s most celebrated painters. Coming of age after the fall of Napoleon, he produced an extraordinarily vibrant body of work setting into motion a cascade of innovations that changed the course of art. His best-known painting, Liberty Leading the Peopleinspired by events of the July Revolution of 1830— is an unforgettable image of Parisians, having taken up arms, marching forward under the banner of the tricolor representing liberty, equality and fraternity. Continue reading “Delacroix Louvre Retrospective”

Willy Ronis Revisited

Black and white photography fans remember Willy Ronis (1910-2009) for his lyric post war photographs depicting working class Parisians of the Belleville and Ménilmontant neighborhoods. His photo book “Belleville Ménilmontant” is a beloved classic. Now, nearly a decade after his death, Ronis’ photographs are being exhibited back in Paris’ 20th arrondissement where many of the pictures were originally taken (at the Pavillon Carré de Baudouin until Sept 29, 2018). Continue reading “Willy Ronis Revisited”

Roman Cieslewicz Retrospective

Cieslewicz, Zoom contre la pollution d’oeil, 1971

“I wanted to leave Poland to see how my posters would stand up to the neon light of the west. I dreamed of Paris.” Roman Cieslewicz  (1930-1996) came to Paris in 1963 and quickly became one of France’s leading graphic artists. The Musée des Arts Décoratifs revisits this major figure in late 20th century graphic design with a retrospective Roman Cieslewicz, la fabrique des images (until Sept. 23, 2018).

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Images en Lutte

“Images en Lutte” at the Ecole Beaux Arts is part of Paris’ 50th anniversary commemoration of May 1968. The exhibition begins with posters made by Beaux Arts students who created an “Atelier Populaire” while occupying their school… until they got kicked out by the police. The workshop—Atelier populaire, oui. Atelier bourgeois, non—was an artists’ collective with no single artist signing work. In two months it plastered the city streets with about 800 silkscreen posters (with a run of 2000 copies each). Continue reading “Images en Lutte”

Icons of May 68

May 68 anniversary magazine covers

They painted slogans in the streets such as “sous les pavés la plage” and “soyez realiste demandez l’impossible.” Some carried Chairman Mao’s red book others took inspiration from Guy Debord’s  “La Société du Spectacle.”  Change was blown’ in the wind in May 1968 as students and workers took to the streets with demonstrations, massive general strikes and occupying universities and factories. For many “soixante huit” remains a major French reference point. And as Alain Geismar —one of the leaders of the time— later pointed out, the movement succeeded “as a social revolution, not as a political one.” Continue reading “Icons of May 68”

Plantu, Cartooning for Peace

Plantu self portrait

Jean Plantureux, better known as Plantu, has published during the last fifty years more than 25,000 drawings and cartoons in approximately 40 publications including Le Monde, L’Express, Le Canard Enchaine and Charlie Hebdo. Now the Bibliotheque National de France is paying tribute to this celebrated French political satirist with a mini retrospective “Plantu, 50 ans de dessins de presse” exhibiting 150 drawings, preliminary sketches and a couple of his sculptures (until May 20, 2018). Continue reading “Plantu, Cartooning for Peace”

“Morel’s Invention” Paris Exhibition

Pierrick Sorin “La dernière danse”

Paris’ Maison de l’Amérique Latine hosts an exhibition by fifteen international artists—photos, installations, holograms, video projections— inspired by Argentinian writer Adolfo Bioy Casares’  science fiction novel “Morel’s Invention or The Image Machine,” published in 1940 (to July 21, 2018). The book—a contemplation of image, reality, immortality and love— has influenced generations of artists from Garcia Marquez to Robbe-Grillet’s scenario for “L’Année Derniere à Marienbad (1961).  Continue reading ““Morel’s Invention” Paris Exhibition”

Henrik Saxgren “Ultima Thule”

Hunter at Herbert Island in the Thuleregion in Northwest-Greenland.

Paris’ Denmark House is showing Henrik Saxgren’s stunning documentary photographs of Arctic Greenland (to May 17, 2018). Saxgren’s photos depict the life of sea hunters in the northernmost Greenlandic settlements. Documenting life in the harsh arctic wilderness he accompanied them on hunts on sea ice and travelled hundreds of miles by dog sled. The result is his latest book “Ultima Thule” and the exhibition at the Danish cultural center. Continue reading “Henrik Saxgren “Ultima Thule””

Robots & Artists at Grand Palais

ORLAN and Orlanoide

Art meets technology with “Artistes & Robots” at the Grand Palais (until July 9). The exhibition, featuring mostly European artists, opens with Jean Tinguely’s mid-1950s “Metamatics” (machines that make paintings). Among the techno pioneers the exhibition includes Nam June Paik’s iconic pseudo robot, “Olympe de Gougs,” an assembly of 12 wooden television sets, 12 color monitors and a laser videodisc player. It was commissioned by Paris for the bicentenary of the French Revolution in 1989. Continue reading “Robots & Artists at Grand Palais”

Jean Fautrier, Matter and Light

“Tete d’Otage, No. 4,” 1944. Fautrier

Paris’ Museum of Modern Art revisits French artist Jean Fautrier (1898-1964) with a major retrospective of his paintings, drawings and sculptures (to May 20, 2018). He is not well known outside France. But in Europe he is considered one of the most important precursors of “art informel,”  a style which developed parallel to American abstract expressionism. In his famous series – Hostages (1943-1945), Objets (1955), Nus (1956), Partisans (1957) – the painting material itself becomes a major subject of the work. Continue reading “Jean Fautrier, Matter and Light”