Thursday, 16 May 2013
"Mountainous Landscape with River Valley and Abbey at Evening Light",
Carl Gustav Carus, one artist whose work is exhibited at the "De l'Allemagne" exhibition
"De l'Allemagne - 1800-1939" is a major exhibition taking place at the Louvre through 24 June 2013. With over 200 works on view, the museum makes a significant case for achieving its goal: offering reflection on the main themes influencing and structuring German thinking in the announced period of the 19th century through to the eve of the World War II. These artworks are in conjuction with presentation of Germany's great writers and thinkers, especially Goethe. Most of the art has never been shown in France, and the breadth of the period covered is without precedent.
Nevertheless, the German coordinators (principally the Centre Allemand d'Histoire de l'Art, or CAHA) and certain critics have judged that the exhibition has been diverted from its original goal, to present a dark image of Germany, one possessed by its own mythology and the idealization associated with the Nazi Party and the War.
Indeed, there are questions to be raised by the choices the curators made. It seems odd that the Bauhaus and Die Brücke movements are significantly missing. How could this period be represented without showing Kandinsky? Kirchner?
The Figaro of 14 April 2013 cited a letter to Die Zeit from Henri Loyrette, President and Director of the Louvre and one of the two exhibition curators. He said that he was "surprised and deeply hurt" and "shocked by openly franco-phobic remarks" made in the German publication. "The accusations aiming to make one believe the museum sought to give a sinister vision of Germany are totally unfounded... We had no other objective than to bring about discovery of the richness, diversity and inventiveness of German painting from 1800 to 1939."
The CAHA doesn't quite see it that way, however. In response to the media storm in Europe since the exhibition opening on 28 March, it has published a press release on its site stating its position, of which I translate extracts below.
"Originally, it was proposed to us to show in Paris a variation on the exhibition 'Weimar Classicism - A Culture of Sensuality'...so it was with pleasure that we responded to the idea of Henri Loyrette...to fill out our project and develop with our Louvre colleagues an extended and more general exhibition...Over the past year the CAHA took, as it should, a lesser role in the material organization of the exhibition.
We nevertheless trusted in the certainty that the guidelines we had developed together would not be altered at all. The CAHA did not participate in writing the catalog, it was not associated with preparing the press kit, nor the writing of the ... exhibition informational notices and audioguides, although several times we proposed our involvement, as a partner, in carrying out these various tasks.
It was only at the openings for the press and the public that we could see the exhibition for the first time in its entirety. We were surprised especially by the texts guiding the visitor through the rooms; they suggested a close collaboration between certain complex question from art history and idea and various events and political currents, taking for leitmotif the Apollo/Dionysius dichotomy. In the same way, the composition of the last room, the final design of which was never discussed with the CAHA, astonished us. While we did indeed clearly find in the exhibition's first sections the project we had agreed on together, taking as central thread some of the major issues Goethe dealt with and their influence up to modern art, we nevertheless had to recognize its absence in the last room and in the texts accompanying visitors on the exhibition circuit. Thus we learned unfortunately just before the opening that the sections we had proposed on Expressionism, the Bauhaus, the positive utopia of crystalline formations and the study of clouds had been renounced.
At first we decided not to express our concern and dismay, to not spoil the exhibition's success; with the impressive series of major works it showed, it could indeed cause the public to discover the many facets of art in Germany. It was only after having been directly contacted by critics considering that the exhibition had an unfortunate tendency to give credit to the "Sonderweg", the "solitary path" German art took, that we said that in all honesty we could not and would not assume responsibility for this turn that the exhibition seemed to have taken in parts, and in which we played no role."
A presentation of German art as tormented, dark and dangerous, as the German conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says?
"It's the opposite of what we were trying to do", says the Louvre's head curator of the painting department.
"De l"Allemagne, 1800-1939"
From March 28 to June 24, 2013
Hall Napoléon, under the Pyramid
Combined ticket (permanent collections + exhibition): €15
Open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Night opening until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays
+33 (0)1 40 20 53 17
Thursday, 09 May 2013
Keith Haring, December 1984, © Tristan Jeanne-Valès
In France in 1984, the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris, otherwise called the MAM, was organizing an exhibition featuring the French artist Robert Combas, the American Jean-Michel Basquiat and another American that many of the French had never heard of at the time: some guy called Keith Haring.
A young photographer called Tristan Jeanne-Valès showed up at the MAM and found Haring and Combas busily at work spray-painting the museum stairwell, and the night before "Figuration Libre France/USA" was to open, caught the Haring hard at work in the Alma-Marceau metro station. In his interview with Raphaël Fresnais of Ouest France, Jeanne-Valès related the reaction of the French of the time to the then still relatively-unknown artist as he drew his signature figures on the wall: "He started at one end, then, in two hours, he had filled the entire space. Some people passing by were saying: 'Who's the crackpot?'"
Keith Haring, circa 1988, Greenwich Village fête
Keith Haring went on to be an international pop art icon, his images becoming a recognizable part of twentieth-century language, in the collections of major museums worldwide. Close to other icons of the time such a Madonna and especially Andy Warhol, he eventually died of AIDS in 1990. The Keith Haring Foundation today administrates a program to give grants to help children with AIDS.
Almost 250 of his pictures, from canvases to subway walls, are on exhibit at a MAM retrospective held at Le Centquatre. Including about twenty monumental works, this is one of the largest shows of his work. The exhibition seeks to bring out the profoundly political content of his body of work.
Keith Haring: The Political Line
Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris
10 am - 6 pm
Late closing Thursday, 10 pm
Full price: €11
Reduced price: €8 (over 60, teachers, the unemployed, large families)
Half price: €5,50 (young people 14-26 + people on the minimum wage)
Free for the under 14s
5, rue Curial - 75019 Paris
Tuesday-Sunday: 3 - 7 pm
Monday, 06 May 2013
The recent Dali exhibition (from 21 November to 25 March) at the Pompidou Centre was an enormous success, as expected: for 198 days of exhibition, there were 7,315 people entering the show daily, for a total of 790,000 admissions.
This means that the 2013 Dali show was only ranked second after the number one ranking exhibition in the Centre's history: the 1979 Dali show, with 840,662 visitors.
For the record, the third most frequented Pompidou exhibition was Matisse in 1993 (734,896 admissions), and the fourth, the Kandinsky show in 2009 (702,905 admissions).