Our List: A Cornucopia of Spring Museum Exhibits to See in Paris

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Our List: A Cornucopia of Spring Museum Exhibits to See in Paris
Spring has finally sprung and with it, many fantastic exhibits are opening in Paris with something for everyone. If you are a fan of the Impressionists, Picasso or the treasures of ancient Egypt, this list will have you covered. Many people want to avoid the museums and the crowds on a short visit to Paris, but a few of these should not be missed and will even be a once in a lifetime chance to see. I will let you in on a little secret: find the late night opening and go that evening. You will avoid the crowds and afterward seeing the show, sit on a terrace and enjoy a glass of wine thinking about all the beautiful things you just saw. In the mid 19th century a group of artists came together to create their own independent exhibition dedicated to their new style of painting. Their paintings received harsh criticism and were rejected from the Salon, the gathering of the best French art every other year. Manet, Monet, Pissarro and others banded together and exhibited in the studio of Félix Nadar on the Boulevard des Capucines; they would be known as the Impressionists. Today we are lucky enough to see these works in the Musée d’Orsay and many special exhibits. One of the most anticipated exhibits of the season is at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, La Collection Courtauld, featuring the collection of British entrepreneur and art patron Samuel Courtauld, who founded the Courtland Institute of Art and the Courtland Gallery in England. He collected paintings from the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th, with many of the most recognizable paintings in French history. Over 60 paintings are on French soil for the first time since the late 1950s, including Manet’s Un Bar aux Folies Bergère, Cézanne’s Joueurs de cartes, Gauguin’s Te Rerioa, Renoir’s La Loge, Monet’s La Gare Saint Lazare and Van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Jane Avril at the Entrance of the Moulin Rouge will have you dancing the cancan all the way through the exhibit. Do not miss the upper levels of the museum that has a wonderful view over the trees. The exhibit runs until June 17, open Tuesday-Sunday until 8pm, and 9pm on Fridays. They also have an app that you can download in advance. Another famous collector of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art was Emil Buhrle. The German born, Swiss industrialist began collecting art in 1951. His collection would grow to 600 paintings including works by Manet, Pissaro, Monet, Degas, Sisley and Renoir, plus Post-Impressionist Cézanne, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Gauguin. The Musée Maillol gathers more than 50 pieces of art, the first time seen together in Paris before they are placed into their permanent location at the Kunsthaus in Zurich. Much of Buhrle’s collection was accumulated during the Second World War. Buying pieces from what he thought was reputable art dealers, Buhrle would later find out they were looted works of art. Once he found out, he hired somebody to gather the provenance on every piece he purchased. Buhrle tracked down the rightful owners, returning the pieces, and in turn, many owners sold the pieces back to him. This exhibit is a feast for the eyes. As a young man, Buhrle said, “If I were ever to adorn my walls with paintings by the masters, my choice would be Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas and Cézanne.” That he definitely did and luckily shares with all of us. The Musée Maillol is open every day from 10:30-6:30pm, Friday until 8:30pm. They also have an app to purchase and download in advance. On the heels of the Impressionist movement, Post Impressionism was beginning to form. The father of the movement Paul Cézanne– along with Van Gogh, Gauguin and Seurat– led the way. Neo-Impressionism, Les Nabis, Pont-Aven School and Symbolism are all under the Post-Impression umbrella and can be seen in some exceptional exhibits this spring. French artist Paul Sérusier ventured outside of Paris in 1888 to join Paul Gauguin in Pont-Aven. Under the guidance of Gauguin, he would paint– at the age of 24– his most famous piece– the centerpiece of the current exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay, Le “Talisman” de Serusier une prophétie de la Couleur. Landscape at the Bois d’Amour in its pure abstractionism with its high use of yellow and touches of red and blue all with darker edges, as is the Cloisonnism style. Maurice Denis wrote in 1903 in The Influence of Paul Gauguin, “How do you see this tree? Said Gauguin in a corner of the Bois d’Amour. Is it really green? Then use green, the best green on your palette. And that shadow which is rather blue? Don’t be afraid to paint it as blue as possible.” Upon Sérusier’s return to Paris, he would give the painting, which for some time was thought to be painted on the back of a cigar box lid, to Maurice Denis. The painting would be renamed The Talisman and would become the symbol of the new movement in art, Les Nabis. (We will see more of this at the Musée du Luxembourg.) The exhibit at the Orsay closes on April 28; the museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, Thursday until 9:45pm. The first exhibition in France devoted directly to the Nabis recently opened at the Musée du Luxembourg,…
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Lead photo credit : Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, At the Moulin Rouge the Dance. Image © public domain

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Claudine Hemingway had a deep love of Paris instilled in her at an early age from her beloved grandparents. Following in their footsteps, she is happiest strolling the historic cobblestones soaking in the architecture, art and history. Highly sought after to plan your Parisian adventure that ventures off the beaten path and digs deeper into the historic and secret Paris. Contact her at [email protected] to plan your trip. You can follow her adventure and daily Paris history lesson on Instagram @claudinebleublonderouge

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